The Nutcracker and the Four Realms review
With each holiday season, we're reminded of stories like A Christmas Carol,How the Grinch Stole Christmasand even A Visit from St. Nicholas. The story of the Nutcracker is another one often seen. Though originally starting as a novel titled "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King", most people remember it as a ballet that was composed by Tchaikovsky. A lot remember either performing in it or having a six year old that performed in it. It has little nostalgia value to me, but I can't deny that the image of the Nutcracker has become synonymous with Christmas. So why haven't there been more adaptations?
"The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" suffers similar problems of other fairy tales in which it contains elements that wouldn't adapt well in a visual format. Much of the ballet, if you were to chose that story, focuses on the dancing, with the plot really taking no more then about fifteen minutes. It's possible that the storytellers at Disney could take the tale and make it something better. The story of "The Snow Queen" took several tries before it was made into Frozen. Let's see if Disney can find the magic to make The Nutcracker and the Four Realmsa strong toy.
During the Victorian era in London, young Clara (played by Mackenzie Foy) is a very smart, clever girl who would rather read and study science then go to parties. Her father insists that she, and her siblings, go to her godfathers Christmas Eve party. Before they go, they all receive late Christmas presents from their late mother Marie. At the party, Clara goes to her godfather Drosselmeyer (played by Morgan Freeman) to open her present, a metal egg with an inscribing "Everything you need is inside", but tells her it's a part of her mothers wishes.
While searching for her present, she is lead into a mysterious forest where she encounters a nutcracker, Captain Phillip (played by Jayden Fowora-Knight). Upon hearing that she's the daughter of Marie, he takes her to a palace where she discovers is the center of an enchanted kingdom covering four realms. The Sugar Plum Fairy (played by Kira Knightly) thinks that the key to opening Clara's gift is within the grasp of Mother Ginger (played by Helen Mirren). Clara comes to discover that not all is as appears and that she needs to take her mothers place as queen to save everything.
The idea of taking The Nutcracker and the Four Realmsand turning it into an Alice in Wonderland/Narnia story is not a bad idea. But despite good intentions to modernize it, it falls on it's feet. This is a film equivalent of a gingerbread house; nice to look at, but completely hollow on the inside. To start with, the movie is very pretty to look at (even if it goes overboard with the CGI imagery). When it needs to look magical, it's magical. When it needs to be scary, it can be nightmare inducing. When it needs to look like Christmas, I want to go there.
But that’s where the film stops for me. My main problem is the story itself, which is not only a copy of the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland, but offers no morals except to "BELIEVE IN YOURSELF". Not only is it incredibly lazy, but in the case of the main character, did she really need that? The opening shows Clara happily operating an invention of her own, but mentions she's too sad for Christmas. Huh…what? The other characters like Mother Ginger, Sugar Plum Fairy, and the Nutcracker simply say the same lesson over.
Im sure a lot of parents will still want to take their kids because it's still a good lesson. Let me just say that when I went to the theater, the family filled autitorum contained more silence and people fussing in their seats. I too was fussy as despite being only an hour and a half, it feels too long and drawn out. Pacing is another problem as a lot of it seems more focused on world building then establishing character. Even that fails because it looks so theatrical and plastic, that I can't imagine anything living in this place. You know your Nutcracker is in trouble with when a ballet dance happens, the Sugar Plum Fairy explains the story within the dance rather then letting the intelligence of the audience figure it out.
I'll give this one broken nutcracker out of five. While it may not be the worst, it's certainly one of the more "sloppily put together" movies Disney has put out. I love the Christmas season and hate to see a holiday film wasted on something that's not invested in itself. At this point, your six year olds Nutcracker ballet will be more entertaining then this mess. This sugary mess is a definite skip.