Many will know this classic Christmas tale and despite their age, The Nutcracker holds a special place in the hearts of many generations of fans. From Tchaikovsky’s infamous and wondrous musical composition for the Nutcracker ballet, to the many remakes in modern ballets across the globe- Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston may have some big (ballet) shoes to fill. Will it be a success?
Clara, a young girl (Foy) is looking for one thing, a key. A magical, unique and peculiar key that will be the answer to unlocking a box gifted to her by her late mother. However, before she can do this, she must attend the annual Christmas ball with her father (Matthew McFadyen) hosted by Clara’s godfather, Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), who may have the key needed to unlock the priceless gift. In order for her to find it, Clara must venture down a mysterious, dark and unknown passageway leading to a snowy landscape that transports her into a unfamiliar parallel universe.
Let’s just say that the potential is evidently there: the set production, CGI and special effects, and also the promising cast (Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and Richard E. Grant) where Mackenzie Foy plays the ideal and thoughtful heroine protagonist, not to forget the obvious storyline The Nutcracker- a story loved and adored by many generations- it’s clearly all there for the taking. The movie’s visuals are highly impressive and the acting calibre of the cast is exceptional, also not to forget the alluring, vibrant and innovative costumes and passable narrative. But some factors lead to the film’s potential as rather short lived.
Despite the film’s title based on the ballet The Nutcracker, there isn’t actually that much ballet featured in the film. Prima ballerina Misty Copeland is brought to the film, showcasing around 5 minutes of a ballet dance interlude with a few twirls here and there, shedding a light to the world ballerinas relish in…. At the end credits. For ballet fanatics or even ballet novices, this is deemed not enough showtime; especially for a story that revolves around the art of ballet.
With a similar essence to The Chronicles of Narnia, the plot thickens and not in a good way… characters are brought into the story only to vanish unexpectedly, leaving many plot holes. The dialogue mismatches some parts of the plot and doesn’t blend at times, making the characters lack in chemistry and development.
On the brighter side, Harlequin (Jack Whitehall) brings a comedic tone to the film as a guard at the Palace of the Four Realms, the lavish costumes and Keira Knightley’s extravagant pink hair, but on the other hand, some scenes portray anything but a family film an some children may find some elements rather frightening.
In the end, the film’s visuals are exceptional and pleasing to the eye alongside the magical world that Clara is welcomed into. However, the visuals can only go so far and it is questionable that the aesthetics may have outweighed the overall story and plot.