The Nutcracker: The Untold Story (BLU-RAY)

The Nutcracker: The Untold Story

On Blu-Ray: 
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Running Time: 
110 Minutes

The music for the songs in this film are adapted from the works of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, who composed the music for the ballet "The Nutcracker".

The Nutcracker: The Untold Story is the brainchild of director Andrey Konchalovskiy whose career includes a lot of obscure films he wrote and or directed; the titles I’ve heard of are The Odyssey and Tango & Cash. So going in I thought to myself that this was going to be your run of the mill Nutcracker tale. Boy was I wrong. Sure, I’ve never committed the play or any of the films to memory but I doubt this was what the original creator had in mind.

The film follows Mary, a young girl whose Uncle, um, Albert Einstein, comes over and gives her a toy Nutcracker. The toy comes to life and the two go on an adventure where they meet the villainous Rat King who is a cross between Andy Warhol and Adolph Hitler. The Rat King hates the sun and wants to block it from the sky by having his rat army (which coincidentally appear to be Nazi’s) collect all of the toys from the children and send them to “smoke factories” where they will be incinerated. I’m seeing a scary trend here. Aside from these disturbing visions the Rat King truly is a monstrous villain, at one point threatening to bite off Mary’s fingers one by one. When he gets angry his face morphs into something kids might find a bit freaky. There is also a lot of borrowed qualities in the film from other films like Alice In Wonderland (Mary is pulled through a mirror and falls down a deep hole into a new world) and The Wizard Of Oz (the Rat Kings minions fly around like the witches flying monkeys). On top of everything the original music for the play gets a re-write by Sir Tim Rice who slums it in sing song numbers with Nathan Lane and John Turturro. Its just a whole lot of awful. Still the film looks amazing at times with its hybrid live action CGI template.

Turning the Holocaust into a kids Nutcracker movie (it makes me cringe just to write that) is bizarre but nothing says bizarre more then when the films color scheme is exacted by a page torn directly from Schindler’s List. Colors are decent at the beginning of the film but when Mary and NC head off to the other world and the Nazi rats come popping up from everywhere Konchalovskiy dips the film into a muted gray world. The last remnants of real vivid color come in the shape of a bright red coat and some bright yellow roses. Detail and definition are pretty solid for the release but colors stay relatively muted, plus the cheap looking CGI waltzes look a bit corny. The only time the CGI really works is when NC is transitioning from toy to boy or a crazy helicopter ride happens in the film. Black levels struggle a bit, which is also common ground when using green screen in most cases, but if you somehow find yourself a fan of this film you won’t be disappointed by the picture quality. Audio quality comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 which does a pretty fantastic job of making the Nutcracker world sound larger then life.

~The Making of The Nutcracker: The Untold Story

AJ Garcia
Review by AJ Garcia
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