The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

November 12, 2018

Well, gosh I wanted to like this one, being such a fan of the Nutcracker ballet as I am. But the word I keep coming up with to describe it is “facile.” There just isn’t a whole lot there past the spectacle.

I did like the spectacle. This is a beautiful movie. I really liked the idea of steampunk engineer Clara.

But I kept feeling like this really wasn’t about steampunk engineer Clara, she was mostly a cog inserted into this machine of tropes (sorry for the strained metaphor there). The idea of portal fantasy is built into the Nutcracker ballet, so it wasn’t necessarily a bad idea. But did it have to look so much like Narnia, and Alice in Wonderland? A ticky-box story dutifully going through the motions.  Also, something based on the Nutcracker — the ballet, not any of the previous versions of the story — needed to have a lot more of Tchaikovsky’s music and a lot more dancing. This had one small ballet interlude with Misty Copeland which was really lovely but was clearly shoehorned in.

Why was this called the Nutcracker, even? The first character Clara meets in the Four Realms is a soldier on guard duty. She immediately calls him a nutcracker for no apparent reason — why is he a nutcracker and not just another toy soldier? Don’t know. He becomes her sidekick and does sidekick things through the whole movie. So…. why is this called the Nutcracker? I guess because we use some of the music?  All the previous versions center on the nutcracker doll who comes to life, who needs to be saved, who is actually a prince, etc. etc.  None of that is here. Which makes is all just weird, you know?  The big-name actors are all marvelous, but this is all mostly pantomime.  Less a story than an undisguised attempt to cash in on a holiday tradition.

Oh, and Clara’s mother is dead, because Disney still has trouble telling stories that don’t have dead mothers in them.


2 Responses to “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”

  1. Larisa Says:

    We dubbed it the Tale of the Dueling Drag Queens. And made a bet there will be a sequel.

  2. Tim Says:

    Totally agree with your assessment. Very pretty but not much else.
    The reason she calls the guard the nutcracker is that her brother got a nutcracker as a present earlier in the movie in the identical uniform. I didn’t much care for the ballet scenes as they seemed so out of place. In retrospect, perhaps if they’d had more dancing in the movie, the ballet parts would have fit better.

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