The hype leading up to the release of Disney’s Cinderella has been massive and anti-climatic at the same time. I remember hearing the announcement of the movie and waiting on the proverbial edge of my seat for the first poster from the film, only to deflate when it was just a large image of the iconic glass slipper. It was a lovely slipper and a beautiful poster, but I wanted more. After seeing the movie, I have to say, that poster actually set the stage pretty well for what was to come.

Cinderella is not a bad movie. It’s actually a really good movie, in a lot of ways. The sets are both fantastic and fantastical; you feel like you’re watching a fairytale come to life, but not in a comical, over-the-top kind of way. The direction, courtesy of Kenneth Branagh, is great. And acting ranges from solid to really great (Helena Bonham Carter and Cate Blanchett steal the show, just as you would expect). The special effects are also impressive, taking Cinderella’s transformation scene to new heights.

But there are some things you should be aware of and okay with before you walk into a screening of Cinderella, if you want to really enjoy the experience:

  • Cinderella isn’t a reimagining or a new take on the classic tale. This is a straight-forward, so on-the-nose it might leave you a little cross-eyed adaptation of Cinderella. If you’re looking for an Ever After-esque take on the character or a Maleficent-style overhaul of the story, you will walk away sorely disappointed. If you’re looking for Disney’s classic take on the fairytale, just with live action humans acting it out, then you’re in for a treat.
  • If you love exposition, you will love this movie. There’s so much exposition in Cinderella that it almost feels like a Sony Pictures comic book origin story. Ella’s parents are both alive at the beginning of the story. Her mom is alive for a while into the movie. Her dad is alive for a while longer after that. The story of how Ella became the kind of woman who would willingly work as a servant in her own home is robust. Branagh and star Lily James were intent on making this movie about the characters and, for audiences, that means a lot of attention is given to developing Ella and her background. It’s actually cool to see this old school princess get a well-rounded backstory and personality, but prepare for a lot to happen before any word of the ball is spoken.
  • Cate and Helena don’t get enough to do. Not nearly enough. You’ll be frustrated about it, but you need to accept it from the get-go if you’re going to have a good time at this movie.
  • Prince Charming gets a name and a personality and he’ll actually charm you. Robb Stark Richard Madden plays the prince as Kit, a charming “apprentice” to the throne who falls for Ella when neither of them really know who the other is, in the woods, on horseback (as you do). He’s a little flat, and sadly, so is Ella, but there’s always the underlying twinkle of something there. The chemistry is good and Richard and Lily are appropriately earnest in their performances, which helps to make up for the lack of depth (despite obvious and noble attempts at the opposite) of the characters.

Disney’s latest take on Cinderella is the kind of movie that requires the right mindset. If you go in expecting it to be something it’s not (and, honestly, that it never claimed to be), you’re setting yourself up for boredom and disappointment. But if you go in looking to spend a few hours in a fairytale, you’ll have a magical time.