Darien News film critic Susan Granger reviews the new movie version of "Cinderella:"

Based on Charles Perrault's 1698 "Cendrillon, or the History of the Glass Slipper," this live-action extravaganza re-imagines the romantic folk tale for the 21st century.

As the story begins, 10 year-old Ella (Eloise Webb) is living happily with her merchant father (Ben Chaplin) and devoted mother (Hayley Atwell), who urges her to "have courage and be kind."

Years later, after her mother's death, Ella's father marries haughty, mean-spirited Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) who has two vain daughters: Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger).

After he dies on a business trip, now-grown Ella (Lily James) is treated like a scullery maid and banished to the attic where she befriends the house mice. But she doesn't lack self-esteem, as evidenced by her chance encounter with Prince Kit (Richard Madden) while riding her horse in the forest.

Eager to see his son married, the ailing King (Derek Jacobi) hosts a ball, inviting all eligible women in the land. But the only way Ella can attend is with the help of her Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), who weaves the necessary magic, transforming Ella's tattered pink gown into butterfly-encrusted blue.

There's the familiar fantastical pumpkin coach, glistening glass slippers and frantic flight at the stroke of midnight -- with the Prince in dogged pursuit.

Faithfully adapted by Chris Weitz and Aline Brosh McKenna, it's impeccably cast and eloquently directed by Kenneth Branagh, who emphasizes the importance of courage, kindness -- and forgiveness.

FYI: Lily James and Sophie McShera co-star on PBS's "Downton Abbey," in which Lily plays aristocratic Lady Rose while McShera is the ambitious kitchen assistant Daisy. And Richard Madden is notable as HBO's "Game of Thrones" King of the North Robb Stark.

While three-time Oscar-winner Sandy Powell creates sumptuous costumes, Dante Ferretti's production design dazzles, Patrick Ledda's visual effects entice and Haris Zambarloukos`s cinematography is impeccably idealized, it's a shame that Disney didn't include more of the memorable "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" music from its own whimsical 1950 animated version.

Adding to the overall enjoyment, this film is preceded by the animated short "Frozen Fever."

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Cinderella" is an elegant, enchanting 8, with the song "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" over the end credits.

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