The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

nutcracker and the four realms poster 2018 movie
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good cast

Dull story, so-so visuals

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Studio:  Walt Disney Pictures/Canadian Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit (PSTC)/Entertainment One

Genre(s):  Seasonal/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Family

Release Date(s):  October 31, 2018 (Spain)/November 2, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG

nutcracker and the four realms clara mackenzie foy jayden fowora knight

No, Nutcracker…you should just stay asleep

Clara Stahlbaum (MacKenzie Foy) is coming to terms with the death of her mother but butting heads with her father (Matthew Macfadye).  When Clara goes in search of a key to her mother’s last gift to her, her godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman) tells her of a secret world…and Clara discovers she’s the princess of the world.  Teaming with a nutcracker guard named Captain Philip Hoffman (Jayden Fowora-Knight), Clara learns that the land is in danger and the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley) reveals the key that could change everything is in the hands of the evil Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren)…but all is not what it might seem.

Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a Walt Disney fantasy adventure film.  The film was based on the 1816 story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” by E. T. A. Hoffman which was adapted into the 1892 ballet by Marius Petipa and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  The movie was released to negative reviews and was a box office bomb.

nutcracker and the four realms mother ginger helen mirren

Winter often leads to cracked skin

The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition…but it is hard to do something new with it.  The Nutcracker and the Four Realms tries to turn The Nutcracker into an action-adventure family film…but with the music sidelined and story reworked, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a bust.  Due to aspects of the story, a ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

The story takes the classic story and reverses it.  The big bad in The Nutcracker is the Rat King.  Here the rats end up being the heroes because the Sugar Plum has gone crazy.  The Nutcracker is working with Clara but he feels kind of secondary to Clara’s adventures.  There is a lot of generic action and the pacing of the film is off…leading to a rather dull watch.

Mackenzie Foy fine as Clara, and the movie has a rather strong supporting cast.  Jayden Fowora-Knight could have been an interesting nutcracker, but he was caught in a boring translation of the story.  Keira Knightley adds some fun to the psychotic Sugar Plum Fairy and Helen Mirren is always good as the “villain”.  Morgan Freeman has mastered playing the old wise man.  Richard E. Grant has a small role along with Ellie Bamber.

nutcracker and the four realms sugar plum fairy keira knightley

I WILL save the Four Realms even if everyone has to die!!!

The movie could have been a visual feast, but it feels too computer generated.  The Nutcracker was always about the look and style of the sets (the motion picture version of the story featured art by Maurice Sendak), but The Nutcracker and the Four Realms goes for generic fantasy.  It looks like every fantasy film you’ve seen and not very distinctive…there are a few nice costume designs, but it is pretty plain.  It also hedges its bets a bit by having a mini-ballet in the middle of the film and sprinkles of Tchaikovsky’s ballet is heard throughout the movie.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a tough sell.  It tries to make a ballet into a non-ballet film and the ballet is one of the reasons it was unique.  In the translation into a family action adventure, something is lost and both adults and kids might be rather bored by the outcome.  If you are going to watch The Nutcracker, stick with the classic ballet and let this holiday film dance by.

Related Links:

Nutcracker:  The Motion Picture (1986)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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