The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is visually gorgeous. But it presents its story like a serenade with repeated missed beats.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Synopsis
Young Clara Stahlbaum is devastated by the death of her mother, Marie. She is also confounded and disappointed that Marie’s final gift to her is a locked egg-shaped box. Eager to discover the secret within the mysterious box, Clara seeks out her inventor godfather, Drosselmeyer, when attending the latter’s party on Christmas Eve. Drosselmeyer agrees to help but tells Clara to first return to the party. Later, while hunting for Drosselmeyer’s Christmas gift to her, Clara is magically transported to a fantasy world. There, she learns her mother was once the queen of a magical kingdom.
Prior to watching, I was puzzled as to why this came out about Halloween instead of before Christmas. I mean, the Nutcracker Suite is still a Christmas classic, isn’t it? Modern retelling/sequel, or not?
Thereabout half an hour into the movie, the reason became clear. Christmas is but the fuse for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and once that purpose is achived, the big day is shoved aside. This, I should highlight, isn’t necessarily bad; it was largely the same in the ballet too. The problem though, together with Christmas goes the rest of the magic. Once the actual story starts in earnest, it’s one sleepy trudge till the end. Not even Keira Knightley’s delirious performance managed to save the show.
What went wrong? Oh dear, so many things. The backstory, crucial to understanding what’s going on, is spottily presented. You never do know for sure what the eggnog is happening till the final third. And even then, many things still do not connect.
The Nutcracker Soldier, the secondary hero of the tale, is also, well, just plain vapid. Full of uninteresting and unfunny dialogue. Frankly, quite lacking in heroic charm as well.
And then there’s the curious lack of magic, in what is very ostentatiously a magical land. I’m aware that flashy magic was also absent in the ballet, but given this is a cinematic tale, why the decision to omit that? Why the emphasis instead on science and clockwork wonder when the Nutcracker is beloved as a story built on magic? Perhaps this was the Disney’s concept of a creative retelling. To me, unfortunately, it was just boringly dry. Dry, and very sleepy too.
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