Is Disney's new "Cinderella," which opens this Friday, March 13, a little late to the ball? Given the current vogue for live-action adaptations of fairy tales -- a trend that Disney launched with "Enchanted" and kicked into overdrive with "Alice In Wonderland," "Oz the Great and Powerful," and "Maleficent" -- it's a wonder that "Cinderella" didn't arrive sooner.
The trend certainly makes good business sense; live-action fairy tales tend to be based on stories every child already knows, so there's brand familiarity, and they also tend to be public domain, so the screen rights are free. The hard part, though, is execution, generating a fantasy world and magical characters who live up to the versions we've all imagined to ourselves during bedtime readings. Digital effects have finally allowed live-action versions of fairy tales to be as visually imaginative as the Disney animated adaptations have been.
Then again, the history of cinema is full of live-action fairy tales that create wondrous worlds even with primitive effects achieved entirely through camera trickery or even 19th-century stagecraft. A little suspension of disbelief is all you need to enjoy these films, the best live-action fairy tales from a century of cinema.