Are you a fan of The Nutcracker Suite? Does the ballet dancing there just so entrance you? Well, good news for you! Disney’s new movie The Nutcracker and the Four Realms does have ballerina Misty Copeland doing some of the dances from that classic ballet.
OK, there isn’t much of that, but it’s there. As for the rest of the movie, read on…
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is, probably, a loose sequel or something to the original. I’m not overly familiar with that story, but what I do remember doesn’t quite match up with what’s on screen here. After an opening with some so-so CGI, we meet Clara (Mackenzie Foy), the middle child in a family where the other two siblings apparently don’t matter much. She’s something of an inventor, good with machines and such, much like her recently deceased mother.
And Clara is an awful person.
Seriously, Clara goes on the quest that leads to the title location of the Four Realms, and the one thing that jumped out at me the most is she is really bad at reading facial expressions and figuring out how other people are feeling. She thinks she’s the only one hurting from the recent death of her mother, and somehow she can’t see that, you know, her father is just as hurt.
Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve and that means it’s time for the family to go to the annual Christmas party at her godfather’s house. That would be Morgan Freeman in what amounts to little more of a phoned in cameo. Clara goes off and ends up in the Four Realms where there is a war brewing between the banished fourth realm and the other three. The heads of the other three realms, Flowers, Snowflakes, and Sweets, are apparently helpless to stop the Fourth Realm that used to be known as Amusements. Now, it probably isn’t a surprise (and it’s unfortunate) in this day and age that the Realm of Snowflakes is useless, but yeah, Sweets and Flowers aren’t much better off against Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) and her creepy place full of mice.
I will say the Mouse King is a rather creative touch.
The heads of the other three are mostly useless, like the heavily-made up Eugenio Debez and Richard E. Grant, but there’s also Keira Knightly doing a very annoying baby voice as the Sugar Plum Fairy.
Oh, and despite getting his name in the title, the Nutcracker, also known as Captain Phillip Hoffman (Jayden Fowora-Knight), is Clara’s best ally and not the main character. And…why is he called a Nutcracker? Clara identifies him as one at once. He looks like a normal guy. His mouth isn’t extra large. He never cracks any kind of nuts (not even those, Watson). But…he’s known as a Nutcracker.
Yeah, I didn’t get that part.
Anyway, despite some really great production design and costuming if nothing else, this is one lifeless mess of a movie. Should I be that surprised considering it was directed by the oddball pair of Lass Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) and Joe Johnston (Captain American: The First Avenger, The Rocketeer)? Anyway, it’s a mess, and what little is worth looking at is Copeland’s dancing and the production, and Copeland also gets one of her dances narrated by the other characters in case anyone in the audience is too stupid to figure out what’s going on. 5.5 out of 10 bad CGI owls.