The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Disney mostly plays it safe when it comes to their films. From Marvel superheroes to Star Wars to their entire backlog of iconic characters, they’re in the habit of releasing blockbusters at the box office. Every once in a while they’ll take a chance that doesn’t necessarily become the instant hit they thought it would be. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a dazzling spectacle of lavish costumes and dancing, but it mostly misses the mark in every other department, resulting in a generic film that doesn’t live up to the Disney moniker.


Following the death of her mother, Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) receives an early Christmas present that she wanted her to have; a jeweled egg with a mysterious lock on it. With the help of godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) she travels to an alternate universe in search of the key where she learns that her mother was the queen, thereby making her the princess. Furthermore, there’s been a conflict over who be ruling over the four realms. Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley), Hawthrone (Eugenio Derbez), and Shiver (Richard E. Grant) have united against Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) who, with the help of the Mouse King, is trying to overthrow the kingdom. Only Clara can stop the fighting and unite the realms under one rule, but she must believe in herself before others can believe in her.


I want to start off by saying that The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is an absolutely terrifying film. Don’t let the fact that it’s a kids movie from Disney fool you. One of the “creatures” is a giant mouse that is comprised of a swarm of regular sized mice. It’s horrifying. There’s also a group of creepy clowns that act as Russian nesting dolls, with a smaller and creepier clown hiding inside each of them. I have to give whoever designed the film props because it’s the stuff of nightmares, not nutcracker dreams. Even Keira Knightley's use of a baby voice for the Sugar Plum Fairy is equally creepy as it is annoying. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is Return to Oz for a whole new unsuspecting generation.


Aside from terrifying kids and adults alike, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is otherwise generic, following the same clichés and tropes you would expect from a fantasy children’s tale in which the kid must rise to the occasion and save the day in the face of hardship. There’s nothing imaginative about it, with the exception of the costumes and set design. There’s a ballet sequence at the end of the first act, but even that feels like it was just dropped in because a film based on The Nutcracker must have a ballet somewhere, right?


The Nutcracker and the Four Realms looks magical at first sight but is completely forgettable by the time the credits start to roll. There’s nothing new or exciting about it that we haven’t seen before or done better. It’s a film that’s meant to capitalize on the holiday season, nothing more and nothing less.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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