It's Christmas Eve and Clara (Mackenzie Foy) misses her mother terribly. We know this because she says so, and the other characters in her life do as well. 'You must miss her terribly', her godfather (Morgan Freeman) says before there's any time to feel emotional depth in-between the lines. When he gives her the thread that leads Clara on a journey to find what her mother left for her, an adventure begins through a tunnel that leads to a world Narnia had already teased, just dusted with a lot more icing sugar.
Clara discovers the world of the Four Realms; the Snow Realm, the Flower Realm, the Land of the Sweets and... the Fourth Realm. There's an inconsequential hostility associated with this final realm that provides the catalyst for a conflict that feels superficial and distracting, in service of a world which pleases only in how wonderful it looks. Helen Mirren pops up in a Mad Hatter-esque performance, bringing some kind of gravitas to a world that is as foolish as it is fanciful.
Everything about The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is aesthetically pleasing. Foy performs with elegant posture and prim correctness, with rosy optimism that often hinders the credibility of her pain. Her warring antagonist is, believe it or not, a pantomimic Keira Knightley with candy floss hair as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Somehow Knightley is right at home; her Sugar Plum dabbles in French exclamations and well-accessorised power trips. The self-aware ridicule sells it, and provides adequate laughs with sickly sweet extravagance.
But the film is too haphazard and full of incomplete events to stand out in the canon that precedes it. Tchaikovsky's music is slathered on top of empty ballroom scenes, while vital characters are glossed over in a technicolor haze. Everything that is wrong with the film is embodied by its titular character: he's a well-meaning, optimistic soldier with a striking gold highlight, but for any audience member discovering this story for the first time, young or old? There is nothing to learn about who he really is or why he matters at all. Save the sugar, just crack a nut or two next time.
|What||Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms film review|
02 Nov 18 – 02 Nov 19, TIMES VARY
|Price||£ determined by cinemas|
|Website||Click here for more information|