Cinema Dispatch: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

TNAT4RCD0

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston

It’s not often that Disney just let’s something slide under the radar like this.  Every Marvel movie and Star Wars episode gets a HUGE marketing push (even the comparatively small Solo got more coverage than a lot of other movies), their animated films are almost always guaranteed to be at the top of the box office, even something as out there as A Wrinkle In Time was pretty omnipresent prior to its release.  With this film though it’s like they want to sneak it out as fast as possible which, given what we saw in the trailers, is probably a good call and even more reason for critics like me to make sure it gets it’s turn in the spotlight!  We may love Disney for a lot of things, but they’ve had their share of horrible mistakes and I’m not in a lenient mood this year!  Does this retelling of the classic tale turn out to be a Disney Blunder on the scale of Treasure Planet, or did they simply not know what to do with the greatness they had in front of them?  Let’s find out!!

Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) is the daughter of a wealthy English family who is not having a very good Christmas, mostly due to her mother (Anna Madeley) having died the previous year, and her father (Matthew Macfadyen) is insisting they at least put up appearances and go the Christmas ball as tradition dictates.  Oh and she has a brother and sister (Tom Sweet and Ellie Bamber), but who cares about them.  ANYWAY, Clara goes to the party in a rather dour mood and sees her kindly godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) who makes clockwork novelties and presumably lost one of his eyes when a cuckoo clock got too close, but more importantly he seems to be the only one who understands Clara as she too has an affinity for mechanical devices.  However, there’s one that still eludes her which is a locked mechanical egg that she got as the last gift from her mother, and when Drosselmeyer sees it it’s clear that SOMETHING must be done!  Okay, see if you can follow me on this.  First, he sets up an elaborate gift giving system for the kids where very long strings are tied to a pole in the courtyard with each child’s name on one of the strings, and they have to follow said string to the gift.  Clara’s string apparently winds all through the house which leads to a… magic door I guess that takes her to the fantasy world of THE FOUR REALMS that’s populated by nutcrackers, fairies, and mice.  Well it’s certainly a good thing that none of the other kids mistook her string for theirs, though even if I was dutifully following a string with my name on it, I’d AT LEAST start to question something when it starts snowing and we’re no longer in the middle of the city, but I guess I’m not young enough to get the whimsy of being out in the cold without a jacket.  The string by the way leads to a key which could be the one needed to unlock Clara’s mechanical egg thingy, but alas it is taken by a mouse that runs off into THE FOURTH REALM which is a place of fog, dead trees, and clowns.  After meeting up with a nutcracker solider (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and making a valiant effort to chase after the mouse who took her key, she eventually retreats back to the big castle just outside THE FOURTH REALM where all the rich people are partying, the guardians of the GOOD realms are residing (Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, and Richard E. Grant), and Clara’s mom is apparently still crowned as queen despite being dead for over a year which we soon learn is even LONGER in Fantasy World Time!  So with that, Clara is given the royal treatment but has to take on great responsibility in her mother’s absence to… I guess eradicate THE FOURTH REALM which is so obviously evil while also getting that key back and finally uncovering whatever secrets her mother left in that egg!  Will Clara be able to overcome whatever challenges face her once she goes back into THE FOURTH REALM?  What are the rulers of the other realms planning to do once Clara fulfils her duty, and will she be able to return to her old life?  Is it just me, or did almost NONE of that have to do with The Nutcracker!?

TNAT4RCD1
“And THEN we signed the peace treaty with the dragons of marshmallow mountain which allowed trade ships to travel down the chocolate milk river.”     “uh huh.  That’s nice…”

Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”

Cinema Dispatch: Bohemian Rhapsody

BOHEMIANRHAPSODYCD0

Bohemian Rhapsody and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox

Directed by Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher

The day has finally come, hasn’t it?  Over thirty years since his death, several failed attempts, and this one being mired in controversy because of who Fox decided to helm the damn thing, we FINALLY have ourselves a Queen and Freddie Mercury biopic.  Like I said in my trailer talk, I’m probably in the majority of Queen fans in that I know the songs and see them as one of the biggest and most influential bands out there, but know very little about them outside of that.  I know a little bit about Freddie and that they did the soundtracks for Flash Gordon and Highlander, but anything else (including who the other bandmates are) is a total mystery to me.  Therefore, this is the kind of movie that’s PERFECT for me as well as millions of other people!  Hook us with the great music and the solid performances, and then tell us all the details we should know about them and let us leave the theater a little bit smarter and with a renewed interest to buy any number of those CD collections or to splurge on iTunes!  However, with a rather ho-hum trailer followed by similarly ho-hum reviews, is this truly the Queen biopic we’ve been waiting for, or was something missing (other than the director) to make this a true masterpiece?  Let’s find out!!

If you don’t know already, Farrokh Bulsara, i.e. Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) was your typical young adult in the seventies.  Work a crappy job, write a few songs on the bus, and drink the night away listening to the local talent.  One night however, he manages to convince one of the bands into letting him join and soon enough they form the band Queen; composed of Mercury, Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello).  From there, we watch Mercury’s relationship to Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), fights with record executives (Mike Myers), and his burgeoning bisexuality as well as relationship with his handler Paul Prenter (Allen Leech).  However, with individual egos, crushing discrimination against homosexuality, and the looming AIDS crisis, will Freddy manage to keep it all together or will he succumb to his worst tendencies to find some measure of fulfillment and happiness?  Oh, and I’m sure the other guys have their own thing going on.

BOHEMIANRHAPSODYCD1
“Play it again, uh… you!”     “What the heck!?”     “No time for talking!  Just keep playing… Buddy?  Is it Buddy?  No wait, Steve!”

Continue reading “Cinema Dispatch: Bohemian Rhapsody”

Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #10

STHIDW10-0

Sonic the Hedgehog (the comic book series) and all the images you see in this recap are owned by IDW and SEGA of America

We’re back with another issue of Full Metal Sonic Jacket which begins where the last one left off; namely with SUPER Neo Metal Sonic getting Sonic and Knuckles acquainted with the concept of unyielding terror as he proceeds to beat them harder than Neil Pert in a drum factory.  We’re talking Perfect Cell levels of unbalanced power gain which is certainly a decent way to up to the stakes as even Sonic’s mouth can’t really save them this time since Super Neo Metal Sonic is making sure it’s being used for… other things.

STHIDW10-1
“Tell me, Sonic.  How does the dirt taste?”     “MMHHHHHFFFFFF!!”     “Really?  I heard differently on Yelp.”

Continue reading “Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) – #10”