I love Cinderella, and I have watched most Cinderella movies/plays/musicals I could get my hands on. It's why I was very excited to watch this film even though it's a children's fairytale - a fact I could see with my own eyes as the previous showing ended. I prepared myself to be disappointed, because how much could you do with a children's story that's been done a hundred times?
I was pleasantly surprised by Sir Kenneth Branagh, who I know best as an actor in Hamlet (and whom others might know as Gilderoy Lockheart). While faithful to the core story, this version included an emotional depth rarely seen in its older predecessors, unlocking the motivations in previously one-dimentional characters and turning them into people. See: appropriately evil stepmother Cate Blanchett.
It also succeeded in translating fantasy into reality by a rich and textured visual experience that, while looking vaguely historical, could never be mistaken as a period film. This film is magic, and I'm not just talking about the something that Helena Bonham Carter brings. While Cinderella and Prince Charming are nice to look at, the beauty of this film is the story and how the story was told.
And it was told well.