The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

2018-11-02 06:31
Mackenzie Foy in the movie The Nutcracker and the


All Clara wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip, a gang of mice, and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger, to retrieve Clara’s key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world


My mother was passionate about ballet growing up, while I was more into my hip-hop dance than the classical schtick. She took me to many shows, but the only one that I always loved seeing was The Nutcracker. The stage and costumes transported me to a land of Christmas and a beautiful frivolity that made you forget you were watching a stage show. There have been many versions of the Nutcracker story on-screen, but now Disney has twirled its magic on it for the second time (Fantasia was the first) to give us a wonderful world of whimsy, magical mechanical engineering and a mouse that might take Ratatouille’s reigning crown as Disney’s cutest rodent.

Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is going through a difficult time when she attends her godfather’s (Morgan Freeman) Christmas Eve party, but a present leads her to discover a land of flowers, sweets, snowflakes and dark amusement.

If you love the ballet, you’ll enjoy this movie. It pays homage to its dance roots perfectly with the help of the best dancer in the world - Misty Copeland. If you’ve never seen her dance, it’s worth watching this film (and its end credits) just to see her bountiful grace and skill with en pointe.

The classical Nutcracker music is also weaved into the intricacies of the world created by Disney as well as the story, and the stage design and splendid costumes all stick very closely to the stage world of the Nutcracker. Special recognition should be given to Sugar Plum’s outfit, played a little too sweetly by Keira Knightley but still enjoyable. That pink masterpiece was just dazzling to look at, and Knightley, of course, knows how to WEAR that dress for maximum effect. It’s all pulled together perfectly by one single moment when she reaches up to her hair and grabs some candy floss to eat, and this just completes the whole persona.

And then there’s the Mouse King, which has been changed from its usual giant rat size down to the most adorable mischievous thing with giant ears you’ve ever seen - but this doesn’t mean he’s not a little villainous. He does somewhat give the game away early on with a cliché twist that even a toddler can see coming, but it’s still worth it even though the giant mass of mice to form a giant king might give you a few nightmares.

What is interesting is the directors that helped shape The Nutcracker. Originally it was just Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, Cider House Rules, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape), but there was almost a month of reshoots that was done by Joe Johnston (original Jumanji, Captain America, Honey I Shrunk the Kids), and both decided to share the directorial credit. They are stalwarts in the industry with impressive titles behind them, but you don’t see much of either style in Nutcracker. They did well in crafting Foy into a strong Clara, as well as guiding green newcomer Jayden Fowora-Knight, who plays the pivotal Nutcracker, although his role is quite small compared to previous renditions. He’s quite a charmer with a hint of sweet naivety, and would be interesting to see what he does next. 

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is very obviously a Disney film, with some similar stylings to that of the modern Alice in Wonderland series, and while the story is unimaginative and predictable, its beauty is what will entertain the audience. Ballet lovers will be enthralled by it, and the younger generation will fall in love with Nutcracker anew that luckily isn’t Barbie.

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