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Capone says avoid Andrei Konchalovskiy's THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D at all costs, which shouldn't be too difficult…!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. Where to begin with this nightmare that is likely to become a cult classic around Christmastime every year for people who enjoy the equivalent of torture porn for kids. Now, I'm a great admirer of director Andrei Konchalovskiy (MARIA'S LOVERS, RUNAWAY TRAIN, SHY PEOPLE, DUET FOR ONE, and his crowning achievement TANGO & CASH), but his take on THE NUTCRACKER (which he adapted with Chris Solimine) defies all explanations and good taste. I'll fully admit, I don't know the actual Nutcracker story, but I'm fairly certain it didn't include Albert Einstein in its character list. At least the setting is appropriate: Vienna in the 1920s. Young Mary (Elle Fanning) lives with her parents (Richard E. Grant and Yuliya Vysotskaya) and younger, obnoxious brother in a stately manner. There's a huge Christmas tree in their living room, but when mom and dad go out for an evening's celebration, the children are put in the care of their wacky Uncle Albert (Nathan Lane). Now, I couldn't swear that this character is actually called Albert Einstein in the movie, but he looks like Einstein, is called Albert, and he sings a song about relativity. But does that mean that this Christmas-celebrating family has a Jewish uncle? Best not to ask such questions in this movie, lest your head begin to pound furiously. In case you were wondering, Lane's Uncle Albert is also the film's comic relief, especially with his hilarious exaggerated Austrian accent. And yes, I did say that Lane sings a song. Here's where things start getting bizarre. You see, this isn't the ballet version of THE NUTCRACKER. However, Tchaikovsky's score is used in this movie with lyrics (!) added by THE LION KING songwriter Tim Rice, with a funky fresh beat tossed in just to make sure the piss truly saturates Tchaikovsky's corpse. Fuck me. What other atrocities are there? Oh yes. When Mary's Nutcracker doll starts talking, it tells her that all his friends call him "NC." The doll is voiced by Shirley Henderson, but weirdly enough, when NC comes to life as The Prince, he's played by child actor Charlie Rowe. But these story and songs issues are nothing compared to the moment when The Rat King (John Turturro) enters the picture. I'll give Turturro credit, he does not half-ass this performance even a little. He is committed to making his performance memorable, even if it is awful. With his rat teeth, which occasionally expand into a terrifying were-rat face, and whiskers, Turturro plays his man-rat character as it should be played--like Hitler. His mission is to keep Vienna eternally dark. To do this, he must find all of the toys in the land and burn them 24/7 to create a wall of smoke over the city, so his rat minions can live above ground (I guess rats don't like daylight). I guess opening up a steel foundry never occurred to him. The other odd thing is Frances de la Tour's portrayal of The Rat Queen, even though I'm pretty sure she's playing the King's mother. Ew. Of course, there's the slightest chance that the entire movie is taking place in Mary's imaginative dreamworld. You think? So, any sense of peril is pretty much undercut by us knowing that. And I don't want to give you the impression that THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D is done on the cheap. Quite the contrary, some of the special effects are pretty good; money was spent on this film, make no mistake. But as I listened to each actor use their own accents or watched a pile of toys aflame in a town square (like a book burning) or cried as timeless symphonies were turned into pop tunes, I started to realize that there was something even worse afoot. I've said this before, and I'll say it until people stop converting 2D films into 3D. This version of THE NUTCRACKER is about a city in darkness, and much of it takes place in pitch-black sewers under a city. I'm fairly certain this movie was not shot in 3D, because if it were it wouldn't look so horribly dim. I said this after I witnessed THE LAST AIRBENDER, and I'll say it here--stop cloaking your films in darkness on top of darkness. The key complaint about 3D is that it makes the screen look dark, so why artificially convert a movie set almost entire in darkness? The 3D simply isn't there when you do, you fucking idiots. But the 3D screw up only underscores a much, much bigger problem with THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D by Konchalovskiy. This film is so horribly ill-conceived that I am truly shocked it's being released at all. Weirdly enough, it looks like the movie is only being released (at least in Chicago) in theater outside the city limits. Hope you kids in the 'burbs like crap. If you're one of the great unfortunates who live within driving distance of this movie, please stay far away from it, for your own safety.
-- Capone capone@aintitcool.com Follow Me On Twitter



Readers Talkback
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  • Nov. 24, 2010, 1:52 a.m. CST

    Thanks Capone

    by D o o d

    you saved me 15 bucks.<p>and FIRST!

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 2:43 a.m. CST

    Although walt disney did the same

    by red_weed

    with sleeping beauty I'm sure this is much worse. Pop tunes? tim rice? buh. When the trailer came up out of nowhere on apple I thought something strange was afoot...

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 2:44 a.m. CST

    Saw Tango and Cash

    by damned-dirty-ape

    about two days ago for the first time in about 10 years. I'd forgotten what a terrible but great film it was. I don't think there have been as many plot holes and one liners fit into 90 minutes since. FUBAR!

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 4:53 a.m. CST

    never heard of this one

    by The_Crimson_King

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 4:54 a.m. CST

    talk about coming out of nowhere

    by The_Crimson_King

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 7:38 a.m. CST

    correction

    by davida4348

    there are no "symphonies" in the film.

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 8:36 a.m. CST

    "just to make sure the piss truly saturates Tchaikovsky's

    by CreasyBear

    corpse". Nice turn of a phrase there, Capone. I'll never watch this movie, but the reviews can be entertainment in and of themselves.

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 10:20 a.m. CST

    I only heard of this movie

    by frozen01

    cuz a friend in the city got a free pass. I saw the trailer and it looked TERRIBLE.

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 10:55 a.m. CST

    Tango & Cash: A Crowning Achievement

    by The Reluctant Austinite

    Wow, Steve, I don't think those words have ever been put in the same sentence by anyone ever. A see a Blu-ray blurb for you that will never go away. Giggle.

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Richard E. Grant - 'The Hallmark of Shite'

    by BiggusDickus

    Bloke used up all his brilliance, charisma and style in 'Withnail & I' and the poor fucker has been on the slide ever since...

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 11:41 a.m. CST

    Between the head-scratching trailer...

    by WriteForTheEdit

    ...and this review, I've got to see this. Car-crash compelling, sounds like.

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 11:58 a.m. CST

    This definitely is a 'we'll make it cool to make money' move

    by Kamaji

    Everything I've seen in the previews looks 'forced.' It's like the tour guide in 'The Wizard' screaming, 'Sit down and have fun, dammit!!' Just another movie to throw on the pile of crappy releases from 2010 (this has really been a dismal film year for me).

  • Nov. 24, 2010, 12:06 p.m. CST

    I think this review is secretly an advertisement...

    by army_of_me

    ... for this movie. It sounds so deliciously bad.