Film review: ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’

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Thanks to Disney, we got a chance to see an advanced screening of ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.’ Check out our review of the film below!

Review by: Chloe Palka

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.

 

 

Reviewer’s thoughts: 

Halloween is just barely behind us, but already the first movie of the holiday season is here: Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Starring Mackenzie Foy (whom you might remember as Breaking Dawn’s Renesmee), Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren, The Nutcracker is a dazzling new take on the classic story – that yes, also features some of the iconic Tchaikovsky score.

Young Clara (Foy) doesn’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing she needs… no, not YOU. She needs a magical, one-of-a-kind key to unlock a silver egg that contains a priceless gift from her late mother. Following a golden thread leads Clara to the key, but it soon disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. Here, Clara discovers the four realms, which are inhabited by a nutcracker soldier named Phillip, a group of mice, and holiday toys come to life (including the regents who preside over each of the realms). Clara and Phillip must enter the frightening fourth realm to retrieve the key and restore harmony to the unstable land.

Where The Nutcracker’s strength lies is undoubtedly its aesthetic. Every frame is stunning, from the snow-covered Victorian London where we begin to the mysterious realms – and that’s not even touching on the costumes. THE COSTUMES. Clara herself has an impressive wardrobe for both pageantry and field missions, while the regents of the Land of Flowers (Eugenio Derbez), the Land of Snowflakes (Richard E. Grant), the Land of Sweets (Keira Knightley), and the fourth realm (Helen Mirren) are each over the top and impossible to look away from. The crowning jewel is the nod to ballet, which plays the role of a Fantasia-esque interlude in the middle of the film and is performed by the magnificent Misty Copeland.

Now that we’ve established how gorgeous this movie is, let’s talk about the rest of it. There are a lot of ups and downs. As intriguing as the various realms are, we barely get to see them – which seems like a wasted opportunity for spinoff material at the very least. Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and Clara’s friendship is charming and heartwarming, but removing the love story between Clara and the nutcracker soldier denies viewers of an interracial relationship here. The story has themes of female empowerment, self-confidence, and not taking things (especially one’s family) at face value, but doesn’t do too much of a deep dive on any of these. The end result is something that is both SO MUCH but also not enough – not unlike one of Sugarplum’s (Knightley) sweets.

That said, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is still a fun family watch that’s a good kickoff to the holiday season. The music – both new and familiar – will make your heart soar, and the visuals give a new definition to the phrase “eye candy.” As much as we’d have liked to see more depth from the story, which does make strides towards a progressive message, we can’t deny it has style.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is in theaters now.