Now Showing: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms


Photo Credit: Laurie Sparham

Richard E. Grant is Shiver, Keira Knightley is The Sugar Plum Fairy, Eugenio Derbrez is Hawthorne and Mackenzie Foy is Clara in Disney’s THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS.

Christmas has arrived a little too early with the anticlimactic release of Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.” Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the new film is filled with nonexistent character development, cliche plot and more than questionable acting.

Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is given a locked egg from her late mother, Marie Stahlbaum (Anna Madeley), on Christmas Eve. In an attempt to find the key to the gift, Clara is thrown into a parallel universe that consists of the Land of Sweets, Land of Flowers, Land of Snowflakes and Fourth Realm. Clara needs to find a way to protect all of the lands and regents from a villainous tyrant.  

The lack of realistic plot in the movie starts in the movie’s opening scenes. When Clara first arrives in the Fourth Realm in a Narnia-like style, she shows  no hesitation upon reaching her new surroundings. While watching, I couldn’t help but consider how mind-boggling it would be that any 14-year-old could be utterly unfazed when she stumbles upon a strange fantasy land.  

Throughout the film,  characters are loosely weaved together by fleeting moments of exposition. The bad character development makes the characters’ intentions unclear and only muddies the plot.

Nothing about the story of “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is interesting or creative. There are countless cliches throughout the film, but the most conspicuous is the theme. As the movie nears its climax,  Clara realizes that the thing she needs to defeat the film’s antagonist is herself. Even for Disney, the plotline was too corny for children or adults to enjoy, with the motivations of each character lacking dept. The atrocious characters would have been made acceptable if there was good acting; however, this film fails to deliver that as well.

Keira Knightley uses an obnoxiously pitched voice throughout the movie that makes her character more annoying than whimsical. She also had no facial expressions to accompany her over-the-top voice. The horrendous mix of an ear-splitting voice and a stony face makes the unenjoyable character more dreadful.

The movie also fails to deliver on good visual effects, which are usually expected of Disney. The CGI used looks sadly primitive compared to recent Disney releases like “Cinderella.”

The set designers purposely choose to use painted background for multiple scenes. This was used to give the film a more classic appearance. Instead of serving the intended purpose, the painted background makes the visuals confusing. The odd mix of advanced CGI and traditional painted backgrounds make the film look unfinished.

“The Nutcracker” is synonymous to Tchaikovsky’s ballet. The movie attempts to include the beloved ballet through a short exposition. In the plot, the ballet is a way for the citizens of the Four Realms to commemorate how their world was created. The inclusion of the ballet is awkward and idle. The ballet does not further the plot and is unneeded.

“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is a missed opportunity. The film could have raised Christmas spirit, but instead it makes the holidays seem like nothing more than a cash grab.