Up until now there have been no notable film adaptations of E.T.A Hoffman's two hundred year old Christmas classic. The Nutcracker has long existed as a Yuletide ballet, but by adding four additional "realms" Disney are determined to put their own spin on the 1816 tale. However, fitting into the modern Hollywood trend whereby every odd blockbuster must be plagued by studio issues even The Nutcracker and the Four Realms has been torn between two very different directors. Set in Victorian London on Christmas Eve, a young girl named Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is transported into a fantastic and enchanting world divided into four different realms.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a magical, if early, step into Christmas. Whilst it may not jingle all the right bells Disney have outdone themselves like never before with amazing and original production and costume design. This festive flick delivers magic that has been absent from Disney live-action since 2016's The Jungle Book, and even if the story leaves you a little flat emotionally you'll be swept away in the dazzling Christmas spectacle that sparkles in front of your eyes. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is very on the nose with its message, although whilst the plot has about as much zing as a stale fruit cake strangely none of that particularly matters as the product remains an elegant and easy going family adventure.
Remarkably the London setting is as chock full of entrancing visuals as that of the four realms, November blues are instantly diminished as the camera takes you through a sweeping aerial tracking shot across a snowy London. The Christmas Eve party - swathed in rich shades of red - cleverly keeps the audience invested in reality, not just the gorgeous fantasy world yet to come. You feel visually in touch with this film from the very beginning, there is never a dull moment as there is always something shiny to keep you interested. Disney even incorporate Tchaikovsky's iconic melody deep in the fabric of the Four Realms - it could've been utilised a tad more but what we're given will surely keep your Christmas spirits high.
Foy promises even greater things to come as the indomitable inventor Clara. The life lessons she supposedly learns throughout the film aren't established clearly enough but Foy powers through a moderately weak script. Kiera Knightley turns in a gloriously over-the-top performance as Disney's - erm - peculiar take on the Sugar Plum Fairy. This cotton candy chomping pixie is pulled off by Knightley with enough unusual moments for us to appreciate what she's trying to do.
Helen Mirren is a wasted talent as Mother Ginger and it's a shame that the Nutcracker is such an inconsequential character in a film titled The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Sometimes it draws uncanny comparisons to Alice in Wonderland and Narnia, but the magical Nutcracker and the Four Realms impresses with glitzy Christmas set pieces. Though it definitely lacks substance, it's sweeter than sugar and (despite its seven year old girl demographic) this merry adventure appeals to the whole family.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms:
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.