Looks like we’re starting the Christmas season really early once again. So it might be the wrong time to release The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Disney’s latest holiday fantasy, to try bringing young viewers into this well-known source material. But if you’re a fan of E.T.A. Hoffman’s 1816 story or Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, look somewhere else.
What’s the Story: On Christmas Eve while attending a ball, young and intelligent Claire (Mackenzie Foy) is gifted a locked egg by her deceased mother and wonders into a magical yet strange parallel world where she must find a missing key to possibly save the four realms from destruction.
Honestly, I had no intention of actually checking out The Nutcracker. All of the trailers looked lame and it ponders why Disney wanted to respin this timeless holiday classic. There have been many interpretations, including one with Nazis (you read that right). But boy, the regret I had while sitting through this 100-minute hollow mess should’ve been spent wisely.
This is one of those times where we have two directors credited: Lasse Hallström (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?) and Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger), who held the reshoots. With that in mind, whoever directed doesn’t capture a sense of feeling when it’s the story about The Nutcracker. The tone couldn’t be found anywhere to moments where it goes from foppish to creepy in a middle second. Going into first-time screenwriter Ashleigh Powell’s incoherent script doesn’t matter at this point since it has no emotional attachment found. Also, it has a plot that doesn’t provide anything new and, of course, we have another Disney product where the mother is dead.
The story itself is hard to really pinpoint what’s even going on. There is a Nutcracker soldier (a wooden performance from Jayden Fowora-Knight) and a bunch of filler to make the length of the adventure stronger. The world building surrounding not Narnia was ultimately bland. This makes Alice in Wonderland or Mirror Mirror look like No Country for Old Men.
Foy is trying her best to work off whatever this is. Some might recognize her from Twilight, but I personally know her best from Interstellar. But even though she was perfectly fine, it didn’t feel like she was able to carry the entire movie when we have a lead heroine we’re supposed to care about coming off as “meh”.
But are the production value worth it? Not really. There’s nothing in here that’s visually pleasing. Sure, the art direction and the costume design seems pretty enough, but absolutely stood out in my mind. And the CGI looks very impressive with the mouse king made out of rats and obvious green screen.
Keira Knightley plays the Sugar Plum Fairy in this and I felt embarrassed for her. This performance she’s given is cringe in all the right factors with this weird squeaky voice that actually made me unintentionally laugh, twice. She ate a piece of her hair (made out of cotton candy). Funny? Not in the slightest.
Anything else that I consider good? James Newton Howard’s score is serviceable enough.
Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren aren’t given that much to do, especially Freeman who there’s for an easy paycheck.
And it’s been a while to consider a movie really boring. Yes, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is in fact boring. It became less investing in what’s on screen and how impatient I was becoming with every given moment as I started to drift in-and-out at one point. It wasn’t until the second act where I started to think of everything like knowing if I used the bathroom, will I miss anything important.
This doesn’t provide with a lot of dancing that many would assume, but we do have two sequences, one in the middle and the other during the credits, of famous ballerina Misty Copeland actually dancing, and it’s worthwhile. Then again, sitting through the actual ballet would’ve been better.
Similar to Disney’s earliest disappointment this year A Wrinkle in Time, this most definitely belongs in the “Live-Action Disney Big-Budget Barrel, in which movies like this that cost so much will be a failure in terms of box office numbers and critics. Though it didn’t have any potential when it cost almost $150 million. I smell a flop coming our way.
In the end, I felt nothing while sitting through The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Nearly everything about this trainwreck isn’t engaging and you have to ponder who Disney made this movie for in the first place. This doesn’t feel like it tailor-made for kids or adults in a case they will feel bored. If you wanna take your kids to the movies anytime soon, save your money to see anything better than this. Hate to say this, but is one of the worst Disney worst I’ve paid to see in a few years and one of the worst movies of 2018, which doesn’t come as a surprise.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms truly lacked a sense of imagination and wonder in what appears to be a joyless, boring uninteresting waste of time from Disney. Grade: D
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