The astonishing (and rarely commented upon) financial success of Tim Burton’s live-action adaptation of Alice in Wonderland – it was the 8th highest-grossing film of all time when it finished its cinema run – made Walt Disney Pictures pause for thought. Having resisted the urge to make live-action versions of the various intellectual properties they had successfully made into animated features, the idea of squeezing even more money out of similar ventures gradually took hold. Hence last year’s impressive re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty in the form of Maleficent, and now this new version of Cinderella – with an Alice sequel already wrapped, Jon Favreau set to start filming The Jungle Book and Bill Condon currently casting Beauty and the Beast, this is something we should all start getting used to.

Mind you, if they’re all as charming as this that would be no bad thing. This story is as old as the hills, but Disney have taken many elements from their own Cinderella animated film from 1950 and commendably updated them to fit more modern sensibilities. Some of the more sexist elements of the tale have been re-worked (though not all), the “ugly sisters” are no longer referred to as such as their ugliness is internal, and there is a very noticeable effort made to include characters from ethnic minorities. This last point is probably due to director Kenneth Branagh (who has commendable history with such), who also does a superb job mounting things on an impressively grand scale. His mostly excellent adaptations of Shakespeare have shown Branagh very capable of presenting old-fashioned stories to a much wider audience, and he outdoes himself here with a colourful, finely-cast film that pops off the screen and bodes well for Disney’s future efforts along similar lines.

A story we're all familiar with, but told with plenty of charm and commitment7
Excising most of the sexism from the 1950 version7
Subtly adjusting things so it's not quite as white-centric8
Kenneth Branagh's underrated eye for visual detail8
We're going to be getting a lot more of these...7
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
7Overall Score

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