Most notably, the Disney-created "mother's new dress" sequence is downright horrifying as depicted by Walt and his artists. The abject cruelty is so deeply felt, the evil is more demonic that many of the other Disney villains, like Maleficent or the Evil Queen. It's physical and psychological abuse. In the new film, the actions are less pronounced and a little less dark, but it does produce the same emotional effect nonetheless. Maybe it was too intense to be done with live actors.
Speaking of the actors, they are hand picked for perfect roles. It's clearly Cate Blanchett's movie to dominate, and she is a slam dunk, adding a twisted, bitter reason for her evil -- a counterpoint to Cinderella's way of handling adversity. The stepsisters are still comical, and the mice are there, too.
I would have loved it if we could have heard Helena Bonham Carter sing "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" and Lily James sing "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" on the soundtrack. But the background music by Patrick Doyle is sweeping, elegant and just as magnificent as the scenery.
The castle is the visual centerpiece. Interestingly, the digital graphics are so convincing that one wonders just how elaborate the set had to be. Never mind -- they filled Pinewood's James Bond stage with grandeur.
One major story change was introducing Cinderella to the Prince early. This also happened in The Muppet Special, Hey Cinderella, in which she thought he was the palace gardener. Cinderella also encountered the prince early in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical version. It's a fine way to work the prince into the story more than he is in the animated film (princes were notoriously difficult to animate). It also comes as a bit of a relief to the viewer, as the opening sequences are filled with tragedy.
It must be pointed out that there is one other live-action Cinderella that compares favorably with this version, in that it opens up the story, adds political intrigue and actually takes the tale beyond the shoe fitting. This is the Sherman Brothers' exquisite musical, The Slipper and the Rose. Featuring one of their most sophisticated scores, this isn't quite as elaborate as the 2015 version, but it is highly recommended.
Blu-ray is a welcome medium to capture all the filagree, ephalets and taffeta and curliques.. There are also a few generous behind the scenes bonus features but no audio commentary (good grief!)