Editor’s note: We’re happy to have our good friend Ebenezer Ponce write this review as a guest contributor.
Official synopsis of film from Disney:
All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world.
It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.
Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, and inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale.
- Even though the green screen for it is pretty bad, the world of the four realms looks pretty good. It does look like something that is from another world with the nutcrackers, the flower people, the snowflakes, the mice, etc. It leaves a sense of awe and inspiration…
- …Which leads do the costume and background designs. While some of them I wish were better thought-out (i.e. the snowflakes), there are some creativity with some of the costumes help sell the world that is different from ours. The background designs look otherworldly as I mentioned before. Overall, the movie succeeds in making a fairy tale-like world through costumes and background design.
- The biggest stand-out for this movie is the music. Considering they used the original Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky, this should not be a surprise. Throughout most of the movie, the music has a very classical feeling to it, and even its original music has the same feeling for the most part. It makes me want to listen to those classical music when I come home watching this movie.
- The main actress, Mackenzie Foy, gives an underwhelming performance. Many scenes where she is supposed to be serious, she shows more of a dull and slightly unsurprised reaction. I know she can do better than this thanks to her role in Interstellar, but her performance here does not do her any favors.
- What also does not help is that most, if not all, the characters are uninteresting and two-dimensional. When the movie starts, the characters are slightly interesting at first, but as the movie progresses, they start to become flat and predictable. When I say they are two-dimensional, the characters do not have any interesting traits other than the surface level ones. One character is dutiful, and that is it. Another character is sweetly charming, and nothing else above that. The one slight exception is the villain due to her motivation, but I argue that the said motivation is not deep, but immature in a bad writing sense. If the characters are not interesting nor compelling, I will barely care for them if at all.
- The pacing is slightly rushed. While it is noticeable in the first half of the movie, the pacing does take its time to explore the world of the four realms a bit. When it reaches the second half, that is when I noticed that they are rushing it. The movie does not take its time to slow down a bit for the characters to react on what they are going through and contemplate what to do next. In other words, it does not have a sense of urgency, especially in the third act where I describe the climax as weak. Take your time; a few more minutes would not kill you (though it needs to fix its characters first).
I have not seen anything from the original source materials, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and The Nutcracker Ballet, so I will review this movie on its own merit.
Here is the gist of the plot: a girl living in her own ordinary world enters a magical realm where she is called to save everyone at that realm from an evil force that is trying to destroy it or take it over. Does that sound familiar to you?
If it does, that is because it is so many Disney films ever made like A Wrinkle in Time, The BFG, the live-action Alice in Wonderland movies, Tomorrowland, Oz the Great and Powerful, Tron: Legacy, The Chronicles of Narnia movies, I can go on.
What makes it worse for this movie is that it does not really do anything new or interesting about it. In fact, this movie is dull and predictable, especially if you have seen the previously mentioned movies. It is not an awful movie, and I am sure there will be a few people who might have some enjoyment, but I rather watch the Nutcracker ballet instead of this movie.
Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is in theaters on November 2, 2018.
Details (from IMDB) –
- Runtime: 99 minutes
- Rating: PG for some mild peril
All reviews are personal opinions and may not reflect the attitudes of other writers for DisneyExaminer.com unless stated otherwise.
These films have been screened prior to the release date for review purposes and therefore are viewed without charge courtesy of The Walt Disney Studios.