Saturday, 10 November 2018

The Nutcracker and The Four Realms (2018)

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.pngDirector: Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Starring: Mackenzie Foy, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Misty Copeland, Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Matthew Macfadyen, Charles "Lil Buck" Riley, Anna Madeley

A retelling of E. T. A. Hoffman's short story, which is most notable for being told as a ballet, The Nutcracker isn't an obvious candidate for a big budget blockbuster adaptation. The benefit of the doubt is deserved, as Disney famously had success turning The Pirates of the Caribbean ride into a billion dollar franchise. Despite the changing of directors and notable rewrites, the behind the scenes changes don't affect the final product (here's looking at you, Justice League), but there's little which stays in ones mind.

Dealing with the loss of her mother, Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is left with a final present, a locked box in the shape of an egg. While attending her godfathers annual Christmas party, she finds her way into another world entirely, composed of four realms. With the help of a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), Clara must venture into the fourth realm, ruled by the ominous Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to find the key to the box, and restore peace to the four realms.

In her biggest cinematic role since Interstellar, Mackenzie Foy delivers likeable work in the lead role. Attempting to cope with her mothers passing, while trying to do what's right in an entirely new world, she pours her all into Clara. The remainder of the cast do a serviceable job, but only two manage to stand out. Keira Knightley is clearly having a blast, hamming it up underneath a Mollie Sugden wig, while speaking with a voice that seems affected by helium, and claiming men in uniform sends quivers through her. In quite the contrast, Richard E. Grant looks miserable through his icicle fringe and frozen sausage fingers.

The biggest compliment can be served towards how visually wonderful it is. The luxurious set design is pretty to look at, while the costumes are tremendously crafted, adding to this reality. This makes it unfortunate how it goes into such an uninspired slog, which teeters between being derivative, and baffling. No matter how much exposition is told through a ballet performance, or how many times we see a giant robotic Helen Mirren, it all promptly exits ones mind after initial viewing. 

There's fun to be had in some of the unintentionally absurd moments within The Nutcracker and The Four Realms. It's just a shame the rest fails to stick in the mind.

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