Monday, June 24, 2019

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

Movie Name/Year: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Length: 99 Minutes
Rating: PG
Production/Distribution: The Mark Gordon Company, Walt Disney Studios, Isobel Griffiths Limited
Directors: Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston
Writers: E.T.A. Hoffmann, Marius Petipa, Ashleigh Powell
Actors: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Misty Copeland, Dame Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Sweet, Anna Madeley

Blurb from IMDb: A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice.

Cat’s Point of View:
I have to grudgingly admit, I now understand why The Nutcracker and the Four Realms had such mixed reviews. There are so many points that could be made both in the pros and cons columns. I’ll do my best to corral my thoughts into some cohesion to hit the highlights.

Above all else, I’ve got to tip my hat to the effects teams, cinematography, and costuming department. The visuals throughout the film were simply stunning. I truly was transported to another realm – or few. I loved the stylized architecture and designed that echoed the renowned onion-domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Russia. Attention to detail was clearly at the forefront for this production. From waterfalls to snowscapes, the colorful realms between, and even a spooky forest; each setting effectively laid the foundation for the story and gave a feast for the eyes.

I couldn’t find fault with the acting, to be honest. I don’t give a flip that the roles of the godfather and the nutcracker were played by African American actors. I actually applaud that this movie embraced diversity over ‘tradition’ in this case, and for the first time ever for these roles.

Morgan Freeman (Oblivion, The Lego Movie, Going In Style) is generally epic in anything he does – this movie is no exception. His wit and warmth were perfect for the part. I was also rather surprised and impressed that this was the first major supporting role in a feature for Nutcracker Soldier, Jayden Fowora-Knight (Ready Player One, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle). 

Moving on.

Mackenzie Foy (The Conjuring, Interstellar, The Little Prince) simply stole my heart and swept me along as she set out upon this adventure and tale of self-discovery. I loved the tinker and inventor aspect given to her character. With outstanding performances by Dame Helen Mirren (RED, Trumbo, Anna) and Keira Knightley (Atonement, Everest, The Aftermath) as well, one would think there would be a little more recognition. I just don’t understand the digs that some critics have made towards the film’s acting overall.

I have a feeling that some of the disconnect between audiences and the movie occurred because this film doesn’t follow the story’s recipe from the traditional Pyotr Ilyich (1840–1893) ‘The Nutcracker Suite’ ballet. I believe that the changes were actually interesting. I don’t want to spoil all of them for you, though. Sufficed to say, that there are elements of and homage paid to the original sprinkled throughout – this movie just had a story of its own to tell.

Another element I adored was the fact that some actual ballet was still involved. I’m even giddier that they cast none other than modern dancing marvel Misty Copeland (The 37th Annual Kennedy Center Honors, A Ballerina's Tale, Drake: Nice for What) for the part. The blending of old and new, as well as a few twists for good measure struck a reasonable balance.

I watched this movie with my daughter and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The rats might be a bit much for very small children, however. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 32%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 34%
Metascore – 39/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.4/10
IMDB Score – 5.5/10
CinemaScore – B+

Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3.5/5

P.S. The beginning of the end credits features another ballet performance by Misty Copeland and supporting dancers to segments of Tchaikovsky's Suite. There is a dancer performing hip-hop and other modern dance elements that joins towards the end of that segment of credits.

P.P.S. Following the movie title's placement in the credits at the end of the dance segment, some story-related animations are beside the credits scroll during the song 'Fall On Me' performed by Andrea Bocelli (Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli: Time to Say Goodbye, La Bohème, Ed Sheeran Feat. Andrea Bocelli: Perfect Symphony) with his son, Matteo Bocelli (Strictly Come Dancing, The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration, The Royal Variety Performance 2018).

Movie Trailer:

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