THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS review by Ronnie Malik – Disney reinvigorates a classic

THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS review by Ronnie Malik – Disney reinvigorates a classic

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Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston

Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Tom Sweet, Meera Syal, Ellie Bamber, Matthew Macfadyen, Nick Mohammed, Charles Streeter, Morgan Freeman, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Helen Mirren, Omid Djalili, Jack Whitehall, Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Keira Knightley

Rating: B

In the magical world of Disney, many fantasy tales are brought to the big screen to delight and tantalize moviegoers all over the globe. For this holiday season Disney movie buffs are going to escape into a world of wonder in a repackaged version of a Christmas classic… The Nutcracker. The creative team at the Mouse House is adding a new spin to this beloved story in the film THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS.

Clara (Mackenzie Foy), a brilliant upcoming inventor of sorts, is reluctantly getting ready for a party on Christmas Eve. Along with her father (Matthew Macfadyen), her sister Louise (Ellie Bamber), and her little brother Fritz (Tom Sweet), the family are all heartbroken over a recent loss. Clara’s mother passed away and no one in the family is all too ready to get into the holiday spirit. Just before the party Clara’s father presents each child with a gift left by their mother. Clara’s gift is a beautiful egg that can only be unlocked with a key that for some odd reason is not included. The inquisitive young girl’s intuition tells her that her godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) will have the answer to the mystery key that she needs. Drosselmeyer, in effort to help Clara what she seeks, presents his ward with a present that sends her into a journey within an alternate reality.

In the parallel world, Clara meets a Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a noble Nutcracker who stands guard to protect his kingdom. Together Clara and Phillip embark on a journey to a neighboring kingdom and learn of three realms – The Land of Snowflakes, The Land of Flowers and Sweets, and The Land of Amusement. The harmony between the realms is disrupted because The Land of Amusement is at war with the other two realms. Sugar Plum (Keira Knightley), a light-hearted fairy who presides over Flowers and Sweets, explains that Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) and her army of terrifying mice must be stopped from using The Land of Amusement to conquer the other two realms. There is much in store for the trusting Clara who sets out to find her key that she knows will not only open her egg but also unlock the secret to stopping the war.

THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS is a visual splendor. This latest Disney production is an explosion of color that is sure to please the eye of anyone watching. The CGI effects are simply amazing and the creatures from the animal kingdom in the movie are so life like you almost believe mice and birds auditioned for their roles. There is a chase scene through a dark forest between Clara and a nasty little mouse that is incredibly well done and such a blast to watch.

One of the best scenes in the film is with the appearance of Misty Copeland performing as the ballerina princess that explains the story of the realms through her ballet. Copeland along with the other dancers are mesmerizing as they jump, leap and spin across the screen in a fashion that only the best of the best in ballet can accomplish. There are many close ups of Copeland in full pointe that will make most of us who have never tried ballet cringe while appreciating the difficulty in which such a graceful dance is performed.

Up and coming actress Mackenzie Foy is the perfect Clara. She brings a certain angelic ethereal quality to the role and displays complex emotions of a child grieving the loss of her mother. Foy is someone to keep an eye on and my prediction is that we are going to see this budding actress grow and develop her talent in many more films to come. Helen Mirren does what she does best – breathe life into her character and always giving a memorable performance no matter how big or small her role. Keira Knightley is scene stealer as she brings forth many different dimensions to Sugar Plum’s complex personality. Knightley also gets some of the best dialogue in the film and delivers her lines with a finesse that will make audiences fall in love with her character. Sadly, Jayden Fowora-Knight doesn’t stand out when playing alongside the other powerhouse actors. His performance, often flat and wooden, is probably not what the filmmakers had in mind when he was cast as The Nutcracker and some may question why he was not directed to bring more passion and life into playing a hero.

The pacing of the film feels off at times and the storyline losses steam as it comes to a crawl in several places, so the excitement for the production dies down quite a bit. What should have been an exciting action adventure/fantasy is a little disappointing as the movie losses much of its momentum. THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS has elements of past fantasy adventures like NARNIA, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and an all-time favorite THE WIZARD OF OZ. The diverse cast adds a nice does of flavor to this new adaption of an old story. A far from perfect cinematic experience, this effort is a fantasy film that will still make for a delightful holiday treat the whole family can enjoy.


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