By CORY WOODROOF

As the old axiom goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

As the old axiom goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

In an age where beloved fairy tales are held as anything but sacred, Disney Studios has bucked the trend of reshuffling classic stories with its newest iteration of “Cinderella.”

The story of Cinderella is one of the more popular in pop culture – one that has inspired plenty of reinventions, parodies and revisions. The Mouse House is responsible for its most iconic telling, 1950’s animated “Cinderella.”

Created under the watchful eye of Walt Disney himself, “Cinderella” has become, perhaps, the most beloved of its princess stories. Cinderella’s castle is even the focal point of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Mickey Mouse and company owe Cinderella a pretty big hunk of cheese for her contribution to the entertainment company’s success and iconography.

So, as the studio begins to dust off its classic animated tales in the era of big-budget, effects-heavy live-action remakes, “Cinderella” was just one of those properties it had to do justice.

The story of Cinderella, like most fairy tales, wears its heart on its sleeve and is wide-open for cynical criticism and chilly contempt. Thankfully, cynical criticism and chilly contempt have never been a part of the Disney brand.

Wisely, the studio has allowed the latest “Cinderella” to keep its innocent charms and heart-warming appeal, resulting in a winning product that, as many have noted, honors the old Disney magic that makes the brand so powerful and beloved.

Director Kenneth Branagh, probably best known for his acting and directorial takes on Shakespeare, shepherds this latest “Cinderella” film with as much care and consideration as possible. As a disciple of the Bard, Branagh has never let his grander features lack in pomp and grace, and “Cinderella” revels in its eye for drama and decadence.

The story here is a fuller telling of the animated classic, with more light shed on Cinderella’s backstory. A lot of time is spent in the film’s opening act with a happy Cinderella – at the time just Ella. The film gradually shifts Ella into her role as the put-upon housekeeper, under the scary supervision of her sadistic stepmother Lady Tremaine.

The rest of the film is pretty textbook Cinderella, but Branagh still manages to keep Happily Ever After a surprise, throwing in a few unique twists of his own to the story. His effort to make the film feel theatric delivers. “Cinderella” is the perfect story to infuse the magnificent melodrama of Shakespeare with, and like it was with 2011’s surprise Marvel hit “Thor,” Branagh’s eye for directing regal affairs remains intact.

Chris Wetiz’ aptly-written screenplay has plenty of Shakespeare-friendly wordplay and does a great job of pacing the familiar plot.

Lily James, a relatively new face on-screen, shines as Cinderella. A major part of the film’s success comes from the pitch-perfect casting of James as the title role. She exudes an elegance and eagerness that fits the role to a tee. Oscar winner Cate Blanchett also thrives as the Lady Tremaine. It’s just one of those scenery-chewing parts with which a premiere thespian like Blanchett can run victory laps.

Richard Madden is a fine Prince Charming, Derek Jacobi is superb as The King and one of my favorite up-and-coming faces, Nonso Anozie. does a fine job as the Captain, one of the Prince’s royal confidants. Helena Bonham Carter has a small role as the Fairy Godmother, but she makes the most of her time.

The great Sandy Powell designs some fantastic costumes for the film, adding to the grand display Branagh showcases. Patrick Doyle’s subtly beautiful musical score also amplifies the experience.

In other hands, “Cinderella” may have been just as lavish, but Branagh’s appreciation for the source material and Disney’s committal to ensuring its classic properties remain pure helps “Cinderella” rise to wonderful heights. It’s a special live-action adaptation that will stand tall in the face of other fairy tale adaptations.