The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Director: Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston
Writer: Ashleigh Powell
Based on: E.T.A. Hoffmann‘s novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, as well as the ballet based on this story by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Tom Sweet, Meera Syal, Ellie Bamber, Matthew Macfadyen, Morgan Freeman, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Helen Mirren, Jack Whitehall, Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Keira Knightley, Misty Copeland, Max Westwell, Aaron Smyth, Sergei Polunin
Seen on: 26.11.2018

Clara’s (Mackenzie Foy) mother passed away not too long ago, but her father (Matthew Macfadyen) has one last Christmas present from the her for Clara and her siblings. While her siblings’ presents are rather self-explanatory, Clara gets a golden egg that’s supposed to open, but doesn’t. Her godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) is the one who made it, so Clara hopes that at his annual Christmas party, she might find more answers. Indeed, he leads her to the key, but before she can reach it, Clara finds herself transported into a completely different world – a world her mother apparently knew intimately. Clara meets the soldier Philipp (Jayden Fowora-Knight), as well as the regents of three of the four realms of that world. Quickly she is deeply involved in the politics of the four realms.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is nice, but doesn’t really come together. Nevertheless, it is entertaining and cute in an entirely unimpactful way.

The film poster showing the main characters in very colorful outfits.

If you want a Christmassy movie for older kids, you could do worse than watch The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. It definitely feels very Christmassy, it looks nice and has a great costume department. Mackenzie Foy is a good lead. So the film has many things going for it. But in many ways, it just wasn’t enough.

Like they gave Clara a black love interest – Philipp – which is absolutely great, we don’t get enough interracial couples in mainstream stuff. But then they don’t actually dare to really go there, staying in the land of implications and nods instead of just letting them have a kiss.

A young girl (Mackenzie Foy) surrounded by dressed up people.

Or they lean a lot on Tchaikovsky’s ballet version and they even got Misty Copeland and Sergei Polunin there to dance – and then there are barely any dance scenes in the film and Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music is downgraded to samples in a completely unexciting soundtrack which is an absolute fail.

They also mixed a little bit of Narnia and Alice in Wonderland into the story, as if the original story wasn’t fantastical enough. It didn’t bother me, but I wondered if it was really necessary.

I don’t know if the film feels so cobbled together because they had to have reshoots with a different director, or if the troubles that made them have reshoots in the first place just couldn’t be solved, but to me it felt like it wanted to be too many things for too many people while not comitting to anyhting in particular. And while the result of that is entertaining enough, it doesn’t make for a particularly good film.

A young girl (Mackenzie Foy) and a soldier (Jayden Fowora-Knight) walk through a crowd of courtiers.

Summarizing: cute, but not really good.

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