This last weekend, I went and saw the latest film from Walt Disney Pictures. It was released on November 3, not long before two highly anticipated films also come from Disney, namely Ralph Breaks the Internet and Mary Poppins Returns. These two films, both sequels, have gotten tons of hype from fans. This means that many people may have overlooked or not bothered to see this The Nutcracker and the Four Realms which, unfortunately, may have been the right decision despite Disney’s incessant marketing which will try to tell you otherwise.
As the film opened, I could not help but be reminded by Disney’s A Christmas Carol. Film critic Alonso Duralde also noted this similarity in his review. The opening sweep over London is almost an exact copy. Being a fan of Disney’s A Christmas Carol, it disappointed me to see such an obvious steal from another Christmas film from the same studio, no less. Speaking of the visuals, that was the one thing that stood out. It seemed that the look of the film was the main focus as they made it. The rest of the film is such a mess that, in the end, the visuals don’t really matter.
Of course, the main question you are probably asking is this: How does it adapt the original story and the ballet? The answer is: it really doesn’t. Of course, there are little snippets of the Tchaikovsky music and a few moments of ballet (which are quite beautiful), but nothing more. The world created here for the film (aka the Four Realms) is a conglomeration of Narnia, Oz, and Wonderland, though not as good as any of them. Neither The Four Realms, nor much else of what happens at all, comes from the original story but rather is an invention of the writers of the film.
The characters that stay include the Sugar Plum Fairy, played by Keira Knightley, and Drosselmeyer, played by Morgan Freeman. Knightley’s performance is cringeworthy to say the least and Freeman (speaking with an jarring American accent as opposed to the rest of the cast) is underused. The rest of the performances are forgettable, including Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger, who also has very little screen time.
It is clear what Disney was going for here: a family Christmas film that may one day be a classic. Unfortunately, I just don’t see that happening as they have created an overblown film that is beautiful, but empty.