The Nutcracker and the Four Realms - 2018
Director(s): Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston
Writer(s): Ashleigh Powell
Cinematography by: Eduard Grau
Editor(s): Jay Rabinowitz
Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley,
If you haven't been paying attention to the box office, you may have missed the fact that Disney now owns Hollywood, with at least four of their movies appearing in the top ten grossing films of the last three years. A number sure to increase in the coming years, they currently have five in the top ten of this year, with two juggernauts waiting to be released. This success is due to their Marvel / Star-Wars movies, but a huge factor has been their live-action adaptations. Naturally, they are feeling bulletproof, and it is early November, and Disney sees it as the perfect time to release a Christmas movie with their live-action adaptation of every kid's favorite ballet, The Nutcracker... and the Four Realms.
The story follows a young girl from London, Clara (Foy) as she ventures into a magical land, where she pursues a conning small mammal through a forest only to be met by unique characters along the way. No, this is not Alice in Wonderland, she also fights an evil queen and save the realms from her evil grasp. So, it's different. Also, Clara turns out to be of royal blood and the person everyone has been waiting for to banish the evil from the land. No this is not Chronicles of Narnia.
I am a bit confused as to who this script (Powell) was aiming for as their target demographic. At times, the dialogue and the sequences are goofy and cartoony, replaying the same story bits and jokes as countless movies of the past. But it also has some very dark and creepy sequences that even the kids sitting next to me complained about during the screening. Tie that to the fact that there is a lot of sexual humor coming from the awful character of Sugar Plum (Knightley) in where she is very turned on by wooden soldiers, the bigger, the better. Cool. When you add all the elements up, you get a hodgepodge of nothingness that barely qualifies as a movie, and it sparingly caught the attention of the kids in my theater, nullifying the “it is a kid’s movie” defense people love to use when a movie is simply bad.
Quick note: I did enjoy, as I always do in a Disney movie, the set design (when it wasn't a CGI mess) and the costume design. They were beautiful and the score, while rarely used effectively, was a treat to the ears.
The characters are barely one dimensional, even though they exist in a four-realm world. We get the prototyped "chosen one" protagonist in Clara, despite Foy's best attempts, and I see a bright future in her, her character is just simply there. I liked that she had some power over her journey and was given intellect as her weapon, but you see everything coming from a mile away that your eyes glass over waiting for her to catch up, leaving you not caring about her at all. Nobody knows why Helen Mirren is there, including her and for the love of me I cannot recall a single scene from her character. The worst is Keira Knightley as Sugar Plum. Look do not get me wrong, Knightley is a great actor, see Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina or Atonement for proof, but in this movie, she is just unbearable. She delivers most of her lines with a high pitch tone that a cartoon would cringe at, only to change to a deeper "sexier" tone when talking about how hot wooden soldiers are to her. It was a lot to deal with, especially when you add the eye-sore CGI sequences.
Quick note: I did enjoy the ballet sequence woven in the story line.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is an out of placed holiday movie, with a plot ripped from better family films, and a mixture of hollow, soulless, uninteresting characters that disappear into the CGI mess of the world they inhabit. The humor fluctuates from the kid's spectrum to the adult's spectrum never fully landing on either side, creating an experience where everyone in the family is blankly staring at the screen wondering "who is this for?". The answer to the question, as the box office suggests, no one. Maybe Disney isn’t bulletproof. Set designers are why I love movies.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is currently playing in theaters. Save your money.
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