A review of a The Nutcracker & The Four Realms by Ahmed Zayani
I absolutely hate remakes, always have, probably always will. Unfortunately, in this day and age where nostalgia runs supreme, they are a sad eventuality. My issue with them is that they are more interested in capitalizing on an existing intellectual property rather then present something new & fresh. I would understand if remakes were made for questionable or mediocre films with fascinating subjects that deserve better treatment then what they originally got, but to take something that’s considered a classic and put a “fresh” coat paint on it to claim it as your own sucks to a whole new level. That being said, I am an absolute biased mark for all things Disney & have no qualms with there recent slew of live action remakes of their animated classics. I know that might make me sounds like a hypocrite but in my defence these remakes take on a whole different medium then the originals so they come off as being more complimentary to the classics rather than an attempt to overtake their legacy, at least that’s what I tell myself to help me sleep at night.
Directed by Lasse Hallstrom & Joe Johnston, The Nutcracker & The Four Realms is the latest epic fantasy from the House of Mouse & follows the recently orphaned Clara (played by Mackenzie Foy) who discovers a world of fantastical beings and whimsical lands that was ruled over by her late mother. Things, however, are not all sunshine & rainbows as the peace of the realms is put at risk by the nefarious Mother Ginger (played by Helen Mirren) and it is up to Clara and her band of merry misfits to save the day. The one thing that I kept thinking of throughout this film’s runtime is “who the hell is this film made for?” The film attempts to follow the same template as the earlier Disney live action remakes but it has no source material with the studio to derive from. It has The Nutcracker title but for the most part it strays heavily from the famed ballet so it’s definitely not targeting that audience. The film does bare a striking visual resemblance to the two live action Alice films, but while those were high octane energetic trips (albeit very flawed) this film in comparison felt very tired, boring, and forgettable, the kind of film that completely fades from memory the moment the lights come back on. This is quite unfortunate as the ensemble cast assembled here are rather capable with Keira Knightley being my personal show-stealer as the eccentric Sugar Plum who commanded the screen with her talents& mesmerizing beauty. Helen Mirren brought an extra dose of class to a film that to be honest is below her talent level and both Eugenio Derbez and Omid Djalili did fine with their limited roles though they both need to be selective with their roles (especially Eugenio who, despite his immense talents, got stuck this year showcasing duds like Overboard & Latin Lover) In fact, if there were any weak links in the cast it would be Mackenzie Foy who was so dull it really felt like she was hardening back to her debut role in the Twilight Saga, and Jayden Fowora-Knight who despite being cast in the titular role came off as nothing more than an afterthought. Also, why was Morgan Freeman in this film again? It honestly seems like he was cast simply to have a more recognizable face on the poster regardless if his role had any substance or not.
Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I wonder just who will find any entertainment from this film. Naturally, I would assume younger kids would eat this film up, but aside from a couple who got fired up during one creepy sequence with dancing clowns, most of the children at my screening (and there were lots of them) were bored out of their wits by the halfway mark. I can’t in good conscience recommend The Nutcracker & The Four Realms to anyone. Outside of a good cast, one beautifully creepy sequence, and a solid soundtrack that included an amazing original by Andrea Bocelli and his son Matteo there really isn’t much of note here. For a studio that gave us such memorable & magical productions as Disney, this entry is unfortunately very forgettable.
For more cinematic intel, follow Ahmed Zayani on @theahmedzayani
The Five: Favorite Disney Live Action Films
- 20000 Leagues Under the Sea
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
- Hocus Pocus
- Saving Mr. Banks