“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is an odd mix of fantasy that never really finds its voice. A bland “Wizard of Oz” knock-off.
This is a plot you know by heart. A young girl finds a magical, unexplainable world full of wonders and garishly costumed inhabitants. The world is in turmoil and the brave young girl must right the wrongs before it’s too late.
Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is the girl in question. Her mother has just passed away and she’s having a hard time dealing with it. Her father Mr. Stahlbaum (Matthew MacFadyen), a high-society type who is still concerned about appearances. The Stahlbaums have other children, but they apparently don’t matter in this story. It seems strange that Clara’s deceased mother and living father seem to care a lot more about her than the other kids.
It’s Christmas and the Stahlbaums are visiting the wealthy eccentric Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) who lives in a house that seems to exist solely to be in a movie with opulent set dressing. While all the other kids get trinkets as gifts, Clara is magically led to a magical land where nutcrackers are real.
Finding a magical world with fantastical creatures was done much better and with more thought in “Christopher Robin.” Here the land simply feels like a rehash of Narnia, but without C.S. Lewis’ source material to give it meaning.
Even Tim Burton’s sub-par “Alice in Wonderland” movies are better examples of childlike fantasy in comparison. Believe it or not, but “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” feels more corporate and more conflicted than Burton’s brash films.
The story simply drifts from one tired fantasy cliché to the next. The costumes are fun, but even they can’t help distract from the movie’s inability to piece together a reason for existing.
It’s innocuous enough for a brain-dead movie going experience. It’s colorful and wacky, so most kids might enjoy it. However, it lacks any sort of emotional heft that might give all the colors, and costumes, and sets any import. It’s just there going through the motions until the credits roll.
Bonus points for including ballerina Misty Copeland here though. In the one segment of the movie with emotional substance, Copeland tells the history of the land through ballet. There’s also a nice little “Fantasia” reference thrown in there for Disney fans.
Besides the ballet this movie feels almost as lifeless as a tin soldier.