The Nutcracker and the Four Realms: Missing Some Disney Magic

Vidushee Mishra, Staff Writer

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Disney’s highly anticipated holiday movie, was released on November 2nd and failed to meet viewers’ high expectations. Although it was portrayed as an engaging, family-friendly movie that would provide a creative interpretation of the original Nutcracker tale, it was relatively monotonous and did not reflect its namesake story at all. After watching the trailer, I was amazed by the intricacy of the costumes and backdrops, however, it was soon evident that these were some of the only impressive aspects of the new movie.

The movie begins with Clara (Mackenzie Foy), the main character, and her brother, Fritz (Tom Sweet), experimenting with a Rube Goldberg device to catch a mouse in their attic. They are soon interrupted by their family’s Christmas Eve plans and Clara’s father has arranged for them to attend dinner at their godfather, Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman), home. Because her mother has recently passed, Clara is extremely reluctant to celebrate. However, she agrees to come to so that she can ask Drosselmeyer about how to open a mysterious gift from her mother. She learns that in order to open the gift, she must retrieve a key from a fantasy world, where her mother used to be the queen of the Four Realms. When she enters the world, she finds out that she must save her subjects from the oppression of Mother Ginger, the queen of the Fourth Realm who has turned against the Lands of Snowflakes, Flowers, and Sweets. However, after she learns that Sugar Plum, the queen of the Land of Sweets, has ill intentions, Clara realizes that in order to find the key she needs, she must stop Sugar Plum from carrying out her evil plans.

The movie had some definite strengths, which mostly lay in its visual aspects, including costumes, makeup, and the CGI. I appreciated the vivid colors and the different styles that the characters used. For example, the portrayal of the kings and queens of the Four Realms was extremely elaborate and their outfits, along with their personalities, reflected each individuals’ kingdom. The backgrounds that were used were also multifaceted and depicted all of the aspects that you imagine when you think of a fairytale kingdom, including things such as castles, bridges, and a small town. The animation was extremely realistic and the special effects were perfectly timed. My favorite part of the movie was a ballet sequence starring the famous ballerina Misty Copeland, who beautifully told the tale of the Four Realms in a graceful dance. She embodied the true spirit of the original Nutcracker and was able to showcase the elegance that the movie was supposed to deliver.

Unfortunately, however, I did not think that the visual appeal of the movie was able to compensate for its predictable plot and slow action. Like most other Disney movies, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms did not have many surprises in it and was very dull in terms of its plotline and the amount of drama it had. Although the producers did attempt to make it more interesting by adding one significant plot twist, it was not developed enough to engage the audience after an hour of basic storytelling. In addition, this story was completely different from the original fairy tale, with its only resemblance lying in Copeland’s ballet number. This was disappointing to me because I was looking forward to watching a new, creative interpretation of Clara and her night with tin soldiers and the Mouse King.

Overall the Nutcracker and the Four Realms was an average film, which was unable to deliver on some of the promises that Disney made to its audience. Although the plot and characters were rather underdeveloped, the props, music, and costumes were able to capture the attention of the audience. I was hoping to see more of the classical aspects of the original story, but the film was only able to capture part of the dance experience by including an enchanting ballet piece, which made me feel slightly better about the movie. In the future, I hope that Disney is able to add more variety to its movies and engage its viewers more effectively.