A promising cast, a beautiful set and an elegant score - this film had all the ingredients to be exquisite. However, for some it may fall short.
A retelling of E. T. A. Hoffman’s magical story, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms follows Clara (Mackenzie Foy) as she ventures to a mysterious land once discovered by her late mother. To honour one of her mother’s dying wishes, she must find a key, and in doing so, she will meet marvellous characters, come across deep secrets, and finally come to peace with her mother’s death.
The fantasy film presents to us Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger, Keira Knightley as Sugar Plum and the supremely talented Morgan Freeman as Clara’s godfather, Drosselmeyer. Amongst these Hollywood names, Misty Copeland, Jack Whitehall and Eugenio Derbez also make brief appearances. Foy gives an enchanting performance, but Knightley arguably goes over the top whilst portraying her irritating character.
As Clara voyages through the four realms: the Land of Flowers, the Land of Snowflakes, the Land of Amusements and the Land of Sweets, she dons fabulous costumes, and is accompanied by adaptations of Tchaikovsky’s classic, ‘The Nutcracker Suite’. As a result, the film is nothing short of beautiful to look at. From the regal costumes, to Knightley’s candy floss hair, the picturesque scenery and the classy ballrooms. The artistry of the film is easily its highlight as every scene presents us with vivid colours and capturing patterns.
As a whole, however, the film doesn’t quite conjure the magic we might have hoped for, with the plot being its weakest point. The storyline feels unfinished, and we are left with numerous unanswered questions, such as how the mother discovered the land in the first place. It’s clear from the outset how the film will end, and though it doesn’t feel too long, the plot takes a while to unfold.
Even despite all this, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is perfect for the audience it is aimed at and children are sure to leave fascinated and happy. The beauty of Clara, courage of the Nutcracker and the prettiness of the kingdom will delight any child, and maybe even the parents that accompany them.
Overall, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is worth the watch for its set design and costume, and although the plot may feel incomplete to the older generation, there is no question that as Christmas approaches, children will leave with smiles ear-to-ear as they dream of all the possibilities that their imaginations can conjure up.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018), directed by Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston, is distributed in the UK via Walt Disney Pictures, certificate PG.