Parents drop like flies but the divine, downtrodden Ella (Lily James) and her noble-hearted Prince Kit (Richard Madden) live to see another day in "Cinderella," a winsomely lavish live-action adaptation of Disney's 1950 animated feature. Broadening the backstories and relationships of its characters while otherwise remaining true to the revered original material, director Kenneth Branagh (2014's "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit") and screenwriter Chris Weitz (2007's "The Golden Compass") have fashioned a remake that holds up enormously well—and may even be slightly preferable since they have refocused their attention on the title heroine and cut down on the cartoon's padded antics involving helpful rodent sidekicks Jaq and Gus-Gus. Moving away from the occasionally garish CG creations found in 2014's "Maleficent," this superior effort proves heartfelt and technically dazzling in equal measure, its bewitching landscapes and fantastical happenings more comfortably blending with the human actors. Those ill-fated parents, though; between Ella, stepsisters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera), and Prince Kit, live mothers and fathers are in fretfully short supply by story's otherwise chirpy end.
When her beloved mom (Hayley Atwell) passed away when Ella was just a child, she and her merchant dad (Ben Chaplin) trudged on together, making the best of a sad situation. Ella was happy for him when, years later, he delivered the news that he would be marrying fellow widower Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and moving her and daughters Anastasia and Drisella into their home. When tragedy strikes once more, Ella is left alone under the nonexistent care of Lady Tremaine, a vindictive, status-obsessed woman who aims to save money by firing the help and turning her stepdaughter into their cook and housekeeper. When word comes that a grand ball is being held for the people of the village where the royal prince will choose a bride, Ella is determined to attend in the hopes of reuniting with the dashing young man she briefly met in the forest days earlier. What she does not expect is that the charming gentleman she ran into is actually the prince himself, and the unexpected night of magic and hidden identities she is about to have could very well change the course of her life.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review