I’m not too familiar with “The Nutcracker,” but I admire some of its music. It started off as a book by E.T.A. Hoffman called “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” and then became the famous ballet by Pyitr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. And overtime, we’ve had a variety of film adaptations. The latest version, “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” is released by Disney, which usually has a strong power. “Usually,” because some of their fantasies like “Alice Through the Looking Glass” or “A Wrinkle in Time” tend to flop badly.
Directors Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnson have crafted an impressive team of costume designs and production designs, making the movie look beautiful; but inside, it’s quite a nuisance. It has annoying characters, silly CGI effects, and a boring tone. And it only ran for an hour and 38 minutes. That’s pretty short, if you ask me.
Mackenzie Foy is a wonderful young actress, and I suggest you check her out in “Interstellar” or her voice work in the English version of “Ernest and Celestine.” But she’s only good for her costume design, while she goes through the motions as Clara, a young girl, who lost her mother Marie (Anna Madeley), and struggles to regain the love of her father (Matthew MacFadyen). She receives a Christmas gift from her Marie, but she needs the key to open it. So, at the Christmas Eve ball, she turns to her godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), who leads her into a magical world.
The world features four realms, and three of them are at war with the fourth one. Apparently, her mother was their queen, she is their princess, and her subjects include a young soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), who becomes Clara’s servant, and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley, disguised by make-up and a goofy voice), who tells her the villains are a former regent named Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) and a bunch of mice forming the Mouse King. Clara is the land’s only hope for peace and prosperity.
“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” looks immaculate with its costumes and production values. The best come from the party-goers to the regents (also with Eugenio Derbez and Richard E. Grant). They look dazzling, based on the scenes they’re drawn in. And the best sets come in the snow, the giant clock, which is actually Drosselmeyer’s living room clock, and the castles. Aside from those features, there’s nothing unique about the movie.
The cast is mostly wasted and tired, with Mirren being the only sane actress. Even Freeman is underwritten and weak here. Again, Foy is a fine actress, but she doesn’t deserve to be tainted here, and neither does Knightley. I really hate dumping on wonderful talents, but I know they have to stumble and fall and get back up again.
The CGI effects are mostly cheesy. The worst comes when we see giant tin soldiers, who all look ridiculous and lame. And we get some cute mice here and there, but who cares? There’s too many of them. And the clowns, presented in the style of matryoshka dolls, are annoying at times. At least, they have no silly effects.
Let’s just forget about this, okay?