Now that Halloween has passed we are stoked for the holiday season to officially begin! One of Julie’s favorite childhood memories during Christmas time was attending The Nutcracker ballet many times over the years. When we were invited to attend a screening of Disney’s new film based on the ballet: The Nutcracker and The Four Realms we couldn’t wait to get a jump start on the season. We were hoping this would be a new title to add to our list of must watch movies every December. The cast was stocked with a lot of big names and the visuals looked stunning. Read on to see what the verdict was on this latest fantasy film (don’t worry there are no spoilers!)
Official film synopsis:
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.
Nutcracker and the Four Realms starts off with a snow-covered victorian England at Christmas. We are introduced to Clara (Foy) and her family who are trying to celebrate their first Christmas Eve after the loss of their mother (why must so many Disney movies be missing a parent?). They attend a Christmas Eve party held by her Godfather (Morgan), who provides gifts for all the children to find. In what feels similar to an Alice in Wonderland or Chronicles of Narnia moment, Clara is suddenly transported to a snowy forest to find her present (a key that belonged to her Mother). This starts her journey through a new world built upon inspiration from the ballet such as candy, snow, and toys while meeting people such as a Nutcracker Soldier, Mice and Fairies.
The Christmas lover in me was super excited for this movie. I couldn’t wait to see how the original ballet story could be expanded upon. There were likable characters (such as smart and strong Clara), and the fantastical scenery and lavish costumes were beautiful. So many colors, lush fabrics, and over the top sets! I loved that they kept some inspiration from the original ballet with a Russian style castle, familiar songs and some beautiful dance numbers. But when the credits started rolling I ultimately felt let down. There was a very slow start and far too many moments that drug on, with a story that just didn’t pull me in. The story was predictable but at times left me with questions. I met many characters I didn’t even care enough to remember their names (not to mention Keira Knightley’s sugary voice was super annoying). There were a few touching moments, or somewhat funny lines, but in the end I didn’t seem to care for the characters like I should, and the movie was just plain mediocre. I would probably watch it again if I were channel surfing on TV busy doing something else, but unfortunately this isn’t the new holiday classic I was hoping to want to add to my collection.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms started off quite slowly, as in the first 30 minutes or so it was struggling to keep my attention. After that, the pace sped up enough to keep my interest but that was about it.
This movie reminds me of Alice in Wonderland or other visually stunning movies but unlike those films, the Nutcracker lacks the story to accompany the beauty. The acting is well done considering the material they had to work with but I just couldn’t get invested in their stories. I understand that Sugar Plum (played by Keira Knightley) was probably supposed to be a little over the top but her character was quite annoying. There also seemed to be some forced comedy to help lift the plot.
I am hesitant to give this movie a low rating because while I didn’t enjoy it, I also really can’t say it was a terrible movie. I partially chalk this up to something that wasn’t really my thing. However, there were aspects that just didn’t quite meet the Disney storytelling standard that I can’t overlook. Between this movie and a Wrinkle in Time, I am getting nervous that Disney is relying too much on visual effects. With Pixar’s ability to tell a story and them being under the same umbrella, clearly Disney should be able to do better.
This movie is best for: anyone who wants to enjoy some beautiful visuals. If you are looking for an engaging story it probably will bore you. Kids might like it, but as far as adults you will most likely be underwhelmed.
View the official movie website.