Review: The Nutcracker and The Four Realms

The Nutcracker and The Four Realms
5 10

PLOT: A young girl (Mackenzie Foy) is left a mysterious locked jeweled egg by her late mother. Her quest to find the key to the egg leads her to a parallel kingdom her mother once ruled, but which is now in the midst of a war being waged between the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley) and Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren).

REVIEW: THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS is a fascinating curio for both what it is and what it isn’t. A curious mix of high art and commerce, the tell-tale shared directing credit held by Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston tells you all you need to know about the movie’s production. Here you have the director of THE CIDER HOUSE RULES being succeeded by the director of CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. All in what’s supposed to be a fantasy adaptation of Marius Petipa’s famous ballet. Clearly Disney had second thoughts about the movie they were making pretty late in the game and the finished product in incredibly fractured for a modest fantasy running a scant ninety minutes.

Hallstrom’s version of the film seems to have been a touch artier, with long ballet sequences involving dancer Misty Copeland and a lush score by James Newton Howard heavily skewed to Tchaikovsky, with conductor Gustavo Dudamel sharing equal billing. It seems like this was an attempt to bring the poetry of the ballet to the mainstream, but then, Disney turned around and made it into an action film, with the second half ditching ballet in favor of tin soldier armies, a whip fight and other silliness.

It’s too bad that THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS devolves into a clone of the Tim Burton ALICE IN WONDERLAND (or more accurately – the less impressive sequel) as the first part of the film isn’t bad at all. The tech credits are lush, with gorgeous cinematography by LA LA LAND’s Linus Sandgren and a capable cast. Things go awry once we get to the Four Realms, with Knightley’s high-pitched performance as Sugar Plum a shockingly over-the-top turn by a normally reserved actress and the voice is incredibly grating. Helen Mirren fares best, even keeping her dignity when cracking a whip at tin soldiers, while young Mackenzie Foy seems game for a fantasy adventure. Morgan Freeman also shows up briefly lending his usual grandfatherly charm (despite the recent controversy).

It all adds up to a messy ninety minute adventure, with it likely being too soft and slow for Disney’s usual fantasy audience, while older fans drawn in by the connections to the ballet will be turned-off by how silly it gets in the second half. It’s not a horrible film, with ingenious, stylish closing credits featuring more of Copeland’s solo dancing and a stylized, modern take on the ballet that has more energy than anything else in the film. Thus, it’s more of an interesting example of movie-making by committee than an all-out disaster, but I can’t help but think the fractured final product will be a rare miss for the house of mouse.

Source: JoBlo.com



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