The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Review
A curious child. A deceased parent loved by everyone. A mysterious package that could change her life. A mythical land unknown to mortals that is in danger of being destroyed forever. The child's destiny that involves saving this other world. If all this sounds all too similar to the Harry Potter films (or even the Narnia ones), it's because Disney tries its hardest to make a fantasy film that could hook young viewers and start a franchise that could rival the above blockbusters. But you know what they forget to put in Nutcracker and the Four Realms? Everything else that makes for a good film.
Clara is a teenager who has recently lost her mother (how recently is never defined) and on Christmas Eve, she is given a gift left behind by her mother for her. It's a locked box, the key to which is nowhere to be found. The search for it leads her to the land of the Four Realms, where she will discover everything that was missing from her life so far. Or so we're told.
Directors Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston think knockoff Harry Potter music and good production design (mostly VFX) are enough to cover for a lack of story, character development and world building. Even till the last frame, there was so much that I didn't know about these 4 realms, about Clara's infamous mother and how this place came to be.
Unlike the best fantasy films about magical lands, Nutcracker lacks an emotional core that is moving enough and to make up for the lack of writing there, it shamelessly exploits the dead mother legacy convention till it's depleted. That still doesn't change the fact that the plot is incredibly convoluted plot and the world is as hollow as the tin soldiers they factory-produce.
Even the ballet sequence, which is beautifully choreographed, is really badly edited together, so the weak backstory isn't even decipherable.
The performances never rise above the average either. Mackenzie Foy is actually the brightest spot in the film, earnest and eager to impress even with mediocre content. Kiera Knightley is poorly cast and gives a nail-gratingly annoying performance but she at least seems committed to the direction she takes for her character. The same can't be said for Helen Mirren, who looks as disinterested in the proceedings as a billionaire father's son does at his court hearing.
Lazy, unimaginative and uncaring towards the audience's money, this film would not be considered in any of the infinite possible realms in this universe.
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