The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is an American fantasy adventure film directed by Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston and is a reiteration of two short stories in “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker. The story follows the magical adventures of a young girl in Klara (Mackenzie Foy) as she seeks to unravel a gift left behind by her deceased mother.
Acting & Character performances.
Mackenzie Foy’s character Clara Stahlbaum didn’t have as much of an emotional impact on me as I would have wanted especially since the plot primarily pivots on her and her journey. The girl’s ideal purpose in the film is to find a key to a box of sorts that her mother left her which bears a special gift; it’s a quest that leads her to the unknown. Clara hence has to navigate her way through the situation she finds herself in and return to her world safe and sound having accomplished her mission. Foy’s delivery from an acting point of view was notable but the character she plays lacked intrigue and seemed all too similar to another Disney character from the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ stories.
Moving on to Kiera Knightley, I just don’t understand how she managed to sign up for this role. Yes, she has done Broadway acts in the past which I think, is one of the reasons she was chosen to play Sugar Plum Fairy on here nonetheless, her appointment to this role wasn’t befitting to her Hollywood stature; just saying. I found her character quite annoying and even though we get to discover in the 3rd Act that she has a hidden plan in the film, her motivations for enforcing that agenda felt lifeless and unrelatable.
Morgan Freeman is also here as Clara’s Godfather in Drosslemeyer; basically, he was just a plot device to kickstart the main agenda of the film and barely had any screen-time. Another superstar slash legend Hellen Mirren is in the mix as well and much like Knightley, she should not be in this film; her character Mother Ginger was somewhat of a loose emotional anchor to Clara but in the grand scheme of things, she didn’t add anything substantial to the plot.
The Plot, Merits and Demerits.
If there is one thing that Disney has mastered since time immemorial, it is most definitely tailouring their famous fairy tale narratives on the big screen in a manner that meets the needs and wants of their target audience. The company, for the most part, is running out of stories to tell with their most marketable ones e.g Cinderella and Snow White having been represented in media several times over the years and thus they are seeking new ways to keep their fire burning. Even though it means buying other famous cinematic franchises and bringing their stories on board or retelling their lesser known stories like the one adapted in this film, they don’t mind as long as the money is streaming in through ticket sales, DVD releases and merchandises.
Disney know that parents who grew up loving their characters will take their kids to see such movies because the toddlers for a fact will love them whether or not the plots adapted are interesting or not. The art of imagery/visual storytelling has always been a key ingredient in Disney on-screen adaptations and this flick is no exception; they know how captivating the colourful costumes and prosthetics, unimaginable worlds, the ball dances and the beautiful creatures can be to the eye. From a critical point of view, I can indeed say that these elements did not blind me from seeing how hollow and recycled the narrative was and that was a big let-down for me.
Furthermore, *there wasn’t a definitive conflict in the film aside from the one between Clara and her father which granted was good but it could have been much better if it was given more prominence. *The pacing of events is too fast; the film doesn’t focus on one aspect of the story enough and rushes to the next way sooner than expected. *The acting in general was so ‘meeh’; there were so many instances where I felt like I was watching a play and in case you didn’t know, I don’t particularly like plays; at least the one’s I’ve sat through.
There are some things to like about this movie though; only just. *There was some comedy i.e when certain guards can’t let Clara into one of the realms before asking her a few survey questions and before she even says the a word, they cut her short by saying ‘thank you!’. * As far as the music is concerned, Disney have always had a good track record in that with their films and this one doesn’t fall short of good music *Lastly, I liked the theme of transformation; a young girl stepping up to fulfil her destiny despite her age and lack of experience.
Well, I always knew what I was getting myself into before watching The Nutcracker and The Four Realms but there was always optimistic part of me somewhere that thought maybe this film will excite me. Newsflash! It didn’t. Nevertheless, you should at least give it a watch if you haven’t already because maybe you might have a different take on it. Feel free to air your views in the comment section below.