I was very excited to see this new high budget NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS movie, as I was a huge fan of the ballet as a child and collected nutcrackers every year for a while. There was much excitement to see how they were to expand on or tell the story in a new way, though I heard that supposedly this movie was based more on the original book “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” rather than the ballet.
The movie opened with the traditional Nutcracker’s “Overture” theme, which Hollywood has apparently brainwashed me over time to associate with the HOME ALONE movies. So it was quite odd to have that movie immediately put in my head as the movie began.
That aside, NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS started out STRONG. Everything was delicious to the eyes, and it was fun tumbling down the rabbit hole with Alice. I mean Clara, played by Mackenzie Foy. Morgan Freeman plays her Godfather, Drosselmeyer. Freeman of course, was great. Unfortunately, only the visual aesthetic remained consistent, eventually the story just kind of staggered and fell.
Part of the reason that happened was because they introduced a lot of fascinating characters, but opted to not develop any of them at all. This is so-and-so, and this is their position, but we learn little to nothing else about them. I would have liked to learn more about the land of the flowers, snow, and their their respective leaders (but we saw so little of them, I hardly even caught their names). I would have also liked to learn more about Mother Ginger, and Sugar Plum and the lands that they ruled over.
There were so many cool things in the story that were just kind of there and never fully utilized. It was as though I got a quick peek at a lot of things and half the movie was cut out.
I was very confused about just who the Nutcracker was from the trailers, and I think the IMDB was wrong back when I looked it up, because it claimed that some noname actor was the Nutcracker. As it turns out, it was Phillip, a nutcracker soldier played by Jayden Fowora-Knight that the title was centered around on. I would complain that the movie was hardly centered around the Nutcracker at all, but the original ballet was always about Clara and not him. Also, he had this odd highlight of gold on his upper lip, I understand that was probably just something to make him look doll-like, but it felt like his make-up job was unfinished and he needed another gold highlight elsewhere like his nose, cheeks, or eyebrows.
There’s a scene where we get to watch some ballet, which is to explain to Clara what happened in the Four Realms while their true queen was missing, but honestly it was so vague I didn’t get anything out of it. I think that explanation was supposed to be vague for the “twist” that comes later, but although it was beautiful, held little significance to the story.
This movie has a bad habit of not telling the viewer enough to follow or care about what is going on.I understand that they wanted to keep Clara in the dark about some things, but it doesn’t work for a viewing experience the way they handled it.
Clara learns that she is the daughter of the queen, and therefore a princess and now the new queen since her mother passed. She accepts this far too easily, and slips into her role as queen just as unnaturally. Here is where the movie just fell flat on its face. With no briefing or any real information given, Clara takes her soldiers into the woods to search for a plot device where many of her men are pulled into the ground and are as far as she knows, killed. She shows zero remorse for her actions.
THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS is without a doubt, beautiful. You will enjoy everything you see in this movie. The story unfortunately isn’t the greatest, so at the very least this will be an excellent movie to have play in the background at a Christmas party, or to keep your kids’ attention as some sort of automated jangling keys. I can’t say it was bad, but the story just didn’t really go anywhere interesting. You may see it and enjoy the visuals, but find it was rather forgettable. I feel like I’m saying this a lot about movies these days.