Level with me, movie. Are you basically a knock-off of Alice in Wonderland or Chronicles of Narnia? If you admit that you are, right now, I promise to not be that angry with you.
The story looks like it’s about a young girl getting whisked away to a fantasy world where she must stop an evil from taking over everything.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Mackenzie Foy (THE CONJURING (2013), Jayden Fowora-Knight (READY PLAYER ONE ), Keira Knightley (COLETTE , PIRATES 5 , COLLATERAL BEAUTY , EVEREST , BEGIN AGAIN , LOVE ACTUALLY , STAR WARS: PHANTOM , and upcoming films BERLIN, I LOVE YOU  and THE AFTERMATH ), and Helen Mirren (WINCHESTER , F8 OF THE FURIOUS , EYE IN THE SKY , and upcoming films BERLIN, I LOVE YOU and ANNA ).
In support, we have Morgan Freeman (GOING IN STYLE , NOW YOU SEE ME 2 , TED 2 , THE LEGO MOVIE , OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN , THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION , and the upcoming ANGEL HAS FALLEN ), Richard E. Grant (CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? , LOGAN , JACKIE , PENELOPE , CORPSE BRIDE , and upcoming films STAR WARS EPISODE IX  and PALM BEACH ), Ellie Bamber (NOCTURNAL ANIMALS ), and Eugenio Derbez (OVERBOARD , GEOSTORM , MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN , and the upcoming THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2 ).
Now for the crew. Co-directing, we have Joe Johnston (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER , JURASSIC PARK III , and JUMANJI ) and Lasse Hallström (A DOG’S PURPOSE ). Penning the screenplay is Ashleigh Powell, making her writing debut; congrats, miss. Composing the score is James Newton Howard, known for RED SPARROW (2018), DETROIT (2017), HUNTSMAN 2 (2016), PAWN SACRIFICE (2015), MALEFICENT (2014), GREEN LANTERN (2011), UNBREAKABLE (2000), and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD (2018). The cinematographer is Linus Sandgren, known for FIRST MAN (2018), BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017), LA LA LAND (2016), and JOY (2015). Finally, the editor is Stuart Levy, known for ALLEGIANT (2016).
Overall, no seriously, I’m getting a serious Narnia and Alice in Wonderland vibe from this movie. A snowy setting when the young girl arrives, a prophecy that foretells her to do battle against the even lady, OH MY GOD IT IS!!! You know what? It may be a knock off Wonderland story, but I’m guessing the story is going to make more sense here than it did in Tim Burton’s movie. I’ve called it, let’s see how it pans out.
This is my honest opinion of: THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS
Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) is struggling with the death of her mother Marie (Anna Madeley). Her father (Matthew Macfadyen), older sister Louise (Ellie Bamber), and younger brother Fritz (Tom Sweet) all do their best to move on during Christmas Eve as they head to a party hosted her godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman). Mostly, Clara only goes for help with a gift from her late mother: a container in the shape of an egg that can only be opened with a special key that she doesn’t have. However, Drosselmeyer has a gift for her at the end of a string that she has to follow as a game for the kids. However, the string leads her down a strange hallway, through a door, and into a whole new fantastical world, divided into four realms. The key is sadly stolen from her by a mouse, leading to an ominous realm ran by the evil Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), but is saved by the brave nutcracker solider, Captain Phillip (Hayden Fowora-Knight). Clara is taken to the Sugar Plum (Keira Knightley), who reveals that the four realms at at war with Mother Ginger and only Clara can stop it by getting that key back.
Ho boy, do we have a winner here! Oh, not because it’s a good movie. Far from it. It’s actually quite bad. With that said, I had a lot of fun with this. And yes, I like this movie more than Burton’s Wonderland movie.
I know I probably said something blasphemous to the Burton fanboys and girls out there, but it’s true. I did not like that movie and hated the sequel even more. Hell, this movie feels more like an Alice in Wonderland movie than that did. This movie has a ton of zany crap happening for no rhyme or reason. Odd, considering that I don’t think that was the story of the ballet, not that I would know. Never seen it. From the moment the story in the realms starts, we’re treated to a random chase scene as Clara chases the mouse who steals the key to her egg. No idea why. This leads her to meet Philip the nutcracker captain, who looks nothing like a nutcracker, just a normal uniformed soldier, and the movie pauses to get these two characters acquainted. Yes, because the very reason Clara is here at all was stolen and she’s more concerned with pleasantries and formalities. Then they go to the dark and scary realm where a giant nightmare-inducing china doll starts coaxing Clara about the key and… doesn’t go after it. I know that Philip was saying that this realm was dangerous, but clearly whatever malevolent force was calling out to her knew her and could have been in a unique position to communicate where others in this world have failed or never tried to do. Not like she had to listen to Philip since they both learned who she is to this world.
But then the real treat of the movie comes in, and I only barely mean that in a figurative sense. I’ve never seen Keira Knightley deliver a bad performance, but by the grace of God, if she ever needed to overact and be delightfully awkward, then this movie is the best source to go for. When I saw the trailer, I thought she should be the worst part of this movie. Turns out, she’s the best. How do I describe her acting? Her dramatic acting (if you can call it that) is something right out of the 40s, and her comedic acting is like a child on a sugar rush, which I’m pretty sure is exactly what this movie was going for. She giggles, hopping off the ground, and squees. No joke, she squees in this movie and I can’t help but laugh at how bad it is. Actually, one of my favorite moments in the movie… and honestly, in Knightley’s career, is when Sugar Plum and Clara are watching a ballet that describes the conflicted history of Four Realms, and she tears out a piece of her cotton candy hair from the back and eats it. <<<SPOILERS – highlight to reveal>>> [ Even once Disney does its now-traditional last minute bad guy twist, I still can’t take Knightley seriously. She’s just too adorable. It’s like a overly girly Barbie doll acting evil. It doesn’t work, but I’m enjoying how much it doesn’t work. The Sugar Plum fairy is trying to be a conqueror. How can you say that sentence and keep a straight face? ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Let’s see. I acknowledge that Foy is a good young actress and I hope that she has a long, successful career in acting, but I hope this doesn’t tarnish her future opportunities. I know it’s hip now to play strong, smart, and independent women, and for good reason, but seriously, this is a little on the nose and not always necessary in this story. Like, she knows how to fix clocks and music boxes? And it’s as simple as moving a screw to the left, or whatever the she did, without pulling the thing apart? I didn’t buy it. And who taught her? Her mother? Not that I want to discredit this, but nothing that we learn about Marie suggests that she knows anything about mechanisms. We don’t see her teaching Clara how to fix little machines or anything. All we know is that they’re both clever. Okay, but clever isn’t indicative of repair skills. And most of her smarts doesn’t even really play into the story, with the exception of maybe one scene. What I really found hilarious is her second day in the Four Realms and she’s sporting a military uniform and is already barking orders like a seasoned veteran. She sure adapted to that role quickly. Just couldn’t buy it and was a little silly.
Let me be clear. If you saw this movie and hated it or otherwise didn’t like it, you won’t hear me try to change your mind, or even try to argue. I get it. This movie makes very little sense, and in retrospect, is pretty stupid in places. The acting is cartoonish, it’s extremely derivative of other whisked-away fantasy tales, and a lot of elements don’t add up to much. But see, everything that everyone will say that makes this movie bad is everything that made me enjoy it. I had a good time, but I expect that to be a pretty rare opinion. As a recommendation, I say… not in theaters. I can’t promise you’ll enjoy yourself as much as I did. To enjoy a legitimately bad film is an acquired taste and even talent. So if you must see it, save it for a rental.
My honest rating for THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS: 4/5
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