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!?