The Nutcracker and the Four Realms brings together my love of Christmas and my love of Disney. In the most basic corporate manufactured way possible. Sure I’ve never been a huge Nutcracker fan, but I still appreciate the story and music. The moment I saw Disney’s interpretation, I immediately compared it to their live-action remakes. Although The Nutcracker Suite is featured in Fantasia, I wouldn’t consider it a remake. It’s just a lifeless overblown CGI filled adventure like all the others. The Four Realms title made it pretty clear what to expect. I’ll admit the classical music and whimsy of the teaser made me a little curious, but I didn’t run to the theater come Christmas season.
After seeing The Four Realms, all my assumptions were correct. Not even the directing duo of Lasse Hallström & Joe Johnston could change that. Clara is just like other modern Disney girls who are smart, yet lack a personality. It’s nice to see Mackenzie Foy again, but she’s just a bland version of Alice or Dorothy with a deceased mother. On Christmas Eve, she ignores her family and instead follows her godfather’s present string to the titular Four Realms. Hardly any attention is given to the titular Nutcracker and when he does appear, he’s just some guy. No nutcracker features to speak of. The mice and mouse king are just CGI mice that form a giant mouse. While Keira Knightley goes really cutesy with the Sugar Plum Fairy.
The Realms themselves are creative and pretty to look at. With an imaginative Land of Sweets, Flowers, and Snowflakes. But that’s always the highpoint of any Disney remake. They still end up going with the cliché of a warring kingdom (against Mother Ginger), with a chosen Princess, a moral about believing in yourself, and a forced surprise villain twist that Disney is far too reliant on. Yes, it is the most innocent character you can think of from the story. Shockingly, the only part of the movie I really liked was an extravagant ballet number. The rest of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is just everything you’ve seen before.