The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
review by Bobby Blakey
Through the years there have been numerous takes on the famed Nutcracker story including ballets, movies, cartoons and more. Now Disney is bringing a new chapter to the story with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms starring Mackenzie Foy, Morgan Freeman, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Helen Mirren, and Kiera Knightly with Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston in the director’s chair. Could this new direction bring something new to fans of the famed story or will it be a nut not worth cracking?
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms follows Clara who wants a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. 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. I must admit I am not a fan of any of the Nutcracker stories, but tried to keep an open mind going in.
Visually this movie is stunning using bright vibrant colors and creative machinery to bring this world to life. I found myself instantly intrigued with the direction they looked to be going, but that is kind of where it began and ended for me. The story heads into an interesting direction initially, but sadly never offers all that much up for the rest of the film. It isn’t necessarily bad, but I just found myself really bored and despite the great visuals and often pretty cool uses of the steampunk style machinery. None of the characters were overly memorable outside of the use of the mice and rat king idea.
Fans of the ballet will no doubt enjoy it as it brings that element to the table with famed ballet dancer Misty Copeland stepping into the role of the Ballerina Princess. This was a small element to the film but serves a pretty big purpose. I give Disney props for trying to do something different with this story instead of the exact same thing that has been done to death, but it just missed the mark for me across the board. If you love all things Nutcracker then give it a shot as you will likely enjoy something here.
In addition to the film this release includes a discussion with American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland about her role as the enchanting Ballerina Princess, her personal history with “The “Nutcracker” ballet, and her inspirational and historic rise within the world of dance. Extras take viewers on the set of “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” to meet both new and reimagined characters, and discover how the Land of Sweets, Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and mysterious Fourth Realm were created to such dazzling effect. Deleted scenes provide a look at magical moments that didn’t make the final version of the movie.
Grab your copy of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms available now on Digital, Movies Anywhere, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™ and DVD from Disney Home Entertainment.