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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 12, 2018

Nutcracker & The Four Realms Movie Review: A Confused And Boring Christmas Movie That Will Never Be A Holiday Classic

WHAT’S HAPPENING to Disney? Their latest release, “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”, is just as sloppy and boring as their recent flop, “A Wrinkle in Time”. Based on ETA Hoffmann’s 1816 Christmas fantasy, “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”, which was immortalized by the classic ballet of Tchaikovsky, the main problem is in the screenplay that is just plain boring.

The story starts in the home of the Stahlbaum Family in Victorian London on Christmas Eve. Its members are grieving because their mother just died, but the dad (Matthew Macfadyen) and eldest daughter (Ellie Bamber) still want to celebrate Christmas like they used to do. The second sister, Clara (Mackenzie Foy of “Twilight”, “Interstellar”), is an inventor of sorts and is showing her latest gadget to the youngest child, their only brother (Tom Sweet).

As a Christmas present, Clara gets a gift from her late mom, an ornate egg-shaped box which says “Everything you need is inside”, but it has no key so she cannot open it. At the Christmas Eve party in her godfather’s palatial home, Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), Clara’s gift is the key to the egg box. But just as she’s about to get it, it is snatched by a mysterious mouse. She chases it and it takes her to a fantasy world, just like in “Alice in Wonderland”.

She finds a friend in a nutcracker soldier, Capt. Hoffman (Jayden Fowora Knight), who reveals to her that her late mom was the Queen of the Four Realms. She is welcomed as a princess by Sugar Plum (Keira Knightley) from the land of sweets, Hawthorne (Eugenio Derbez) from the land of flowers and Shiver (Richard Grant) from the land of snowflakes. Clara learns that the fourth realm belongs to Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) who Clara has to stop as she is at war with the other realms
To spice things up, we see scenes of a prima ballerina (Misty Copeland) dancing to the familiar and immortal “Nutcracker” music of Tschaikovsky in between scenes and there’s spectacular CGI special effects like a giant mouse which is actually composed of several hundred other mice. But they cannot save the fact that the film flounders, lacks energy and becomes so tedious it can lull you to slumberland.

Maybe the fact that the movie was originally directed by Lasse Hallstrom, who was replaced by Joe Johnston and had additional work by another uncredited director, made the movie a botched up, misguided, confused job that is definitely not magical but half baked. As they say, too many cooks spoil the broth. There’s a big major twist in the plotting that demonstrates how badly truncated the script is and the movie suffers greatly because of this.

The ballet scenes are good and the production design is great, but Oscar winning actors Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman are wasted in their respective roles. Keira Knightley hams it for broad comic effect as the Sugar Plum Fairy with pink cotton candy bouffant hairdo. Mackenzie Foy is kind of bland and cold as the lead star, so it’s hard to relate to her. As for the nutcracker soldier, we don’t want to sound racist, so we’ll not just make any comment at all. Will this movie be a holiday classic in the future like “Christmas Carol”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Miracle on 34th St.”, or even “Home Alone”? Definitely, a big no!
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