The Nutcracker and the Four Realms movie posterThe DDS team decided to check out the new Disney movie, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Here’s what we thought.

Stewart (2.5/5 stars)

This looked fantastic. Costumes, production design, and visual effects, all grade A. The Disney art department was in full on sugar-and-spice mode when they threw this thing together. The ultimate effect being akin to a three-tier chocolate cake wrapped in meringue and marzipan topped off with intricate caramel sugar work. Such a creation might score you a handshake from British Bake-Off’s Mr. Paul Hollywood, until he cuts into it and finds the stodgy unbaked center.

I don’t recall the original story, so any diversions from the Ballet, or E. T. A. Hoffmann’s, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, didn’t really matter to me (though I understand the changes are extreme, so it might matter to some). The story delivered in this movie is all style and very little substance. Ultimately, I couldn’t relate to anything happening on the screen, and studio meddling was evident throughout.

This film never found its rhythm, and the more iconic tracks from Tchaikovsky’s original music aren’t used enough. As for the performances, there’s not much to recommend there either. Most of the cast are basically mannequins for Jenny Beavan’s beautiful costumes. Mackenzie Foy does okay as Disney’s “modern” engineer princess despite not given an actual character to play, and Keira Knightley was fun to watch as the sickly sweet, Sugar Plum.

Photo of the DDS at the movies
The DDS team at the movies!

Esther (3/5 stars)

Overall the movie was a little better than I expected because I have heard negative reviews. I also had no idea about the cast, so it was surprising how many great, talented people were in it.

It was absolutely stunning visually, but the story was an utter mess and was very loosely based on The Nutcracker. The main conflict of the story seemed to have little purpose. Clara and The Nutcracker’s acting were mediocre.

The highlight was the one-minute dancing during closing credits featuring Misty with Sergei Polunin, who is one the most talented current male ballet dancers. (As a side note: Polunin made principle dancer at age 23, which is a record, and then he retired a couple of years later, then after a break he returned as a freelance dancer.)

Actors Mackenzie Foy and Keira Knightley
Clara (Mackenzie Foy ) & Sugar Plum (Keira Knightley)

Laura (3/5 stars)

Beautiful detailed costumes and sets. The film had me feeling a good mix of emotions; happy, funny, sadness, and suspense.

Kristen (4/5 stars)

Having seen stage versions of the ballet my whole life, it was really fun to see a dramatic twist of the story brought to life on the big screen, with exquisite costumes and sets. The film was beautiful to watch. The plot within the realms had some unusual holes and moved rather abruptly. Misty Copeland’s dance scene was lovely, with fun film tricks and close-ups. It left me wanting much more dancing and I was glad for the encore at the end. Mackenzie Foy was charismatic in the role of Clara, and of course Morgan Freeman as Drosselmeyer was delightful.

Victoria (2/5 stars)

Overall, this movie made me laugh at its outrageousness. It seems to be a somewhat of an Edgar Poe trend to make children’s fairy-tales dark for no reason and not support it with anything but insane CGI and whimsical costumes.

All of the relationships in the story (minus that of Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger) felt like unfit puzzle pieces, cut by a child, and glued together despite their lack of fitting.

I wish the music would have made more of an impression, due to the homage of the story in general, as it felt important in the first scene of the movie with the original score, but didn’t continue its strength.

The fanfare of the movie did its best to hide the lack of a well written story. Where it lacked in empathy, genuine connection between characters, and comedic timing, it made up in beautiful costume design and a very creative set to compliment Misty Copeland.

Photo of Misty Copeland in The Nutcraker and the Four Realms
Misty Copeland

Christina (2/5 stars)

It was a cute movie with an uncomplicated yet muddled story-line. CGI-based and very fantasized, practically a mix of Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movies with a negligible amount of the wonderful music by Tchaikovsky. To be honest the essence of the original ballet for me is the music and not the story, so I missed that very much from the movie.

Visually it was stunning but the story was a bit slow and boring, especially for kids I imagine. Sometimes the dialogue was simple and a bit wired, and the acting felt silly at times. I’m not sure what age it’s suitable for, for younger kids it may be too scary—the swarm of mice was frightening—but for adults it may be boring.

Overall, it wasn’t bad, but it was forgettable. Good cast, good director, and good special effects, but simple and had a silly script.

Overall rating: 2.75/5 stars!

Rated: PG Running time: 1h 39min

Starring: Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman, Richard E. Grant, Helen Mirren

Screenplay: Ashleigh Powell

Directed by: Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston