What a load of garbage. I have not seen a film so clunky, awkward, and confusingly bad like this since last year’s The Snowman. I hated this movie because it just made me so inquisitive the entire time. I know that I sound like I’m nonsensically babbling now, but hear me out.
I work at a movie theatre, and recently, I applied for a position in the projection department. I got it, and now I have a special perk: I get to see movies early. It’s called “screening”, and that’s basically where we just watch a movie at midnight Tuesday or Wednesday and make sure there’s nothing wrong with it before it’s shown to the public. This week I got stuck with The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (in 3D nonetheless). I wanted to, of course, see Bohemian Rhapsody instead, but beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.
Going into the film, I was very worried. Whenever I would see the trailer for this movie, I could sense that it was gonna be a HARD box office flop (as in, it would not profit any money), and I also believed it was going to be a really bad movie too. As of this moment, the film is projected to open with a gross of the low-to-mid $20 million range. If you compare that number to its $120 million budget, it looks like this film is going to lose Disney a pretty penny.
Let’s actually get into this film in depth. It starts off by introducing our main character, Clara (Twilight’s Mackenzie Foy), a genius inventor who is dealing with the grievance of the loss of her mother (classic Disney trope), when she goes to a party held by her godfather (sexual harassment accused Morgan Freeman). She brings him a gift that she was given by her late mother, a metallic egg that is in the need of a key to open. He leads her to a tunnel that takes her to the land of the Four Realms. There, she is greeted as a princess by the citizens, because her mother was their queen before she passed away. In this land, there are four realms, each with different types of citizens. There’s the candy one, flower one, ice one, and circus (?) one. And that’s it. It’s really hard to describe the plot to this movie because it bounces all over the place. It starts off as a weird period piece Christmas film (?) and then it turns into a Narnia rip-off, with a touch of The Santa Clause 2. This film is a complete, unguided mess.
We start this movie by introducing the characters, very awkwardly. Clara’s family has no connection with one another, and every time they talk it seems very cardboard and fake. Every performance seems handed in, especially the bigger name actors. Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and Keira Knightley apparently all needed some extra cash, and it’s very present in their performances. Each one of them phones their performances in, and they don’t add any emotional depth to the film. Mackenzie Foy is obviously trying very hard, but the faux British accent is somewhat distracting, and she delivers her dialogue with a stale demeanor. The one performance I was interested in seeing was Jayden Fowora-Knight as the titular character. It’s his debut film, and I was looking forward to seeing what he brought to the table. For the most part, he seems like a very charismatic actor, and I’m interested in his potential future roles. He does not bring anything to the table though, because the character is near pointless to the plot, and is given very little screen time. This is ironic because his name is literally in the title. It’s called The Nutcracker and the Four Realms and it has nothing to do with The Nutcracker himself. It has nothing to do with “the Four Realms” either! Most of the film is spent in the central castle, and Clara is only in the candy, flower, and ice realms for a shot or two. It’s such an unfitting title for a movie because it doesn’t accurately describe the film at all!
I’m going to try and list off some positive though because I’m an equal opportunist. The costumes are all very beautifully designed. They fit the setting of the film and they all look very detailed and pristine. I wouldn’t be surprised if the costume department receives an Oscar nomination for this. In the uncomfortably fit in ballet scene, Misty Copeland (renowned ballet dancer in real life) performs a very cool, shortened exposition dance, and her dancing is really extraordinary. Also, I saw it in 3D, and I’m not a big 3D guy, but I thought this film did it right. It didn’t have a bunch of crap flying in front of your face, but instead, it just gave the background more depth. But that’s it. Everything else is unbearable and horrible.
A thing to know about the behind-the-scenes of this film is that the film has two directors. Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston are both credited as the director, which is very unheard of. According to the Directors Guild of America, only one filmmaker can be credited as “director”. What happened here is that Hallström could not fit this film’s reshoots in his schedule, so Johnston came on to finish them. It feels like there are multiple visions for the film, where there should only be one.
Overall, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a complete mess. It is an uneven film that tries to take itself way too seriously in some parts, but also completely nonsensical in others. It’s a film where if you were to fall asleep for exactly one minute, you would wake up to find something completely different than what you were just watching. I hope that whoever greenlit this film is punished for their mistake, and I hope that no one has to suffer through it.