There are precious few films that can't be spoiled, but Kenneth Branagh's take on the immortal footwear centric fairy tale Cinderella may well be unspoilable – which may explain all the expanding pumpkins and cheeky CG mice on display. If you were hoping Disney's live action remake of their much loved animated feature was going to keep things traditional, prepare to get very excited indeed.
The script, written by Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass), follows the fortunes of young Ella (Lily James) whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and her daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera) into the family home.
But when Ella's father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully nicknamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. But despite their cruelty, Ella is determined to honour her mother's dying words to "Have courage and be kind."
Then of course there is the dashing stranger (Richard Madden) she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, Ella feels she has met a kindred soul. It looks like her fortunes might change when the palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella's hopes of once again encountering the charming Kit.
Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand in the form of a kindly beggar woman (Helena Bonham Carter) who, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella's life forever.
Branagh seems happy with the assignment: "It is impossible to think of Cinderella without thinking of Disney and the timeless images we've all grown up watching. And those classic moments are irresistible to a filmmaker."
Despite Emma Watson pulling out of the lead role, he's also pleased with the cast he's put together, with Lily James now filling the famous glass slippers. "With Lily James we have found our perfect Cinderella. She combines knockout beauty with intelligence, wit, fun and physical grace. Her Prince is being played by Richard Madden, a young actor with incredible power and charisma. He is funny, smart and sexy and a great match for Cinderella."
With Stellan Skarsgård (Melancholia), Derek Jacobi (Anonymous) and Nonso Anozie (The Grey) rounding out the cast, Cinderella will go to the cinematic ball on 27 March 2015.