I admit, as the mom of a tweenage daughter, I usually like my princesses to have a bit of feminist pluck. But you won't find that quality anywhere in Disney's new live-action Cinderella. This traditional adaptation of the oft-told fairy tale is as old-school as it gets, with a lovely, kind and passive heroine (played by Lily James of Downton Abbey fame) who saintly suffers the abuse of her evil stepmother (Cate Blanchett, stunning in haute-couture outfits) and her ridiculous stepsisters until her goofy fairy godmother comes along (a blonde Helena Bonham Carter, playing against type) and helps hook her up with a cute prince (Richard Madden). Directed by Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh, it's got a fine pedigree and is completely ravishing, from the lush production design to the divine costumes to the gorgeous cast, but it's never surprising.
And perhaps that's the point. Fractured or modernized fairy tales have been all the rage for a while now—Cinderella in particular has been reinvented multiple times to reflect a more contemporary outlook (see Into the Woods, the movie Ever After and the recent Cinderella musical on Broadway). So Disney makes quite a statement going back to the basics with no major twists, tweaks or politics. Whether or not you think that's the right message, the fact is, young kids are going to be clamoring to see Cinderella, especially since it's paired with a wonderful new Frozen short, which screens before the feature. So here's what to know before you go. Read more