The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: Film Review

The release of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms was a confusing one at first – it seemed like perfect festive fodder for Disney so it was weird it was being released with minimal fanfare at the start of November – but it all makes sense once you see it. It’s not awful by any means, it’s just forgettable fluff.

In a loose adaptation of the classic Nutcracker tale, Mackenzie Foy stars as Clara, who is given a locked egg-shaped box from her late mother. On her hunt for the key she stumbles upon the world of the Four Realms – which her mother created and became queen of. She learns of the unrest between the realms – run by Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley), Shiver (Richard E. Grant) and Hawthorne (Eugenio Derbez) and Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), who has been banished. Clara realises her key will help bring harmony to the realms and goes on a quest to find it.

The Nutcracker is just a bit meh. It is extremely pretty to look at but it’s very much a case of style over substance. I must admit I did enjoy the stunning visuals – the gorgeous setpieces and the impressive production design, costumes and make-up. They were all wonderful. But there’s not much going on story-wise. It is quite shallow, with minimal plot, thinly-drawn characters and a basic script. It also didn’t feel original as I kept getting thoughts of Alice in Wonderland and Narnia.

I liked Foy, I thought she really tried to give her Clara a deeper, emotional level despite what she was given. She also nails the British accent so she deserves kudos for that. Clara is smart, strong and brave, and a good character to lead a 2018 Disney movie. Knightley is very odd as Sugar Plum. She looked amazing but her high-pitched squeaky voice was incredibly annoying. However, she did really throw herself into the part and made me laugh the lot. She’s the main comic relief (and there’s not much), alongside the CGI mouse and Omid Djalili and Jack Whitehall as a pair of dim-witted guards. The other big names – Morgan Freeman, Mirren, Grant – aren’t in it as much as I’d hoped, and newcomer Jayden Fowora-Knight was a bit wooden as the Nutcracker himself, Captain Phillip.

I imagine kids will enjoy The Nutcracker – it is harmless fun, it whizzes along at a pace and is only an hour and 40 minutes long. It has some scares and laughs, some exciting action moments and a beautiful dance sequence by ballerina Misty Copeland. It’s just a shame that it was let down by the weak and confusing story and wooden script.

In cinemas now 

SEE ALSO: My pics from the premiere

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