I haven’t liked a live action Disney film for at least five years. But If you’re a parent looking for a good movie to take your kids to, I strongly recommend CINDERELLA.

British director Kenneth Branagh (who’s better known for Shakespeare than fairly tales) has made a highly satisfying CINDERELLA with a smart, updated screenplay, gorgeous cinematography, and terrific performances from Lily James as Cinderella and Cate Blanchett as her wicked step mother.

Cate Blanchett’s first appearance is a clear sign that this version of the fairy tale is something special.

Voice Over: Her stepmother to be was a woman of keen feeling and refined taste and she too had known grief, but she wore it wonderfully well.

After Cinderella’s father dies suddenly, the stepmother turns Cinderella into a servant for her and her two biological daughters.

Stepmother: It’s seems too much to expect you to prepare breakfast, serve us, and still sit with us. Wouldn’t you prefer to eat when all the work is done?

Lily James as Cinderella is a self possessed young woman who lives by her late mother’s creed: Have courage and be kind. And so she does her best to obey.

But she also takes time way riding her horse, and that’s how she meets the prince who doesn’t admit who he is.

Prince: My father’s teaching me his trade.

Cinderella: You’re an apprentice.

Prince: Of a sort.

Cinderella: That’s very fine. Do they treat you well?

Prince: Better than I deserve, most likely. And you?

Cinderella: They treat me as well as they’re able.

The prince is smitten, but they part before he even knows her name.

To find her, he hosts a grand ball with an open invitation to every woman in the kingdom.

Cinderella: It was my mother’s old dress.

Stepmother: It would be an insult to take you to the palace in those old rags. (She rips the sleeve of Cinderella’s dress.) You shall not go to the ball!

But, of course, thanks to her fairly godmother’s miracles, Cinderella does go to the ball in grand style.

Prince: It’s you, isn’t it?

Cinderella: Just so.

The happy ending is still a ways off. There is still the spell broken at midnight and the kingdom-wide search for the woman whose foot can fit into Cinderella’s lost glass slipper.

All of it is done with style and panache and the radiance of Lily James.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.