The holiday season has begun and with it comes a number of specials and big budget movies to cover the anticipation. Tonight marks the first of a long list of big films to grace the silver screen, with Disney attempting to go strong with a retelling of a legendary, immortal piece of the Nutcracker. Will it be the light hearted, poetic fantasy that the ballet has captivated audiences for years on, or will it be the dark, foreboding tale of war? Robbie K back with a written review to help determine what tale lies in store. Let’s get started.
Film: The Nutcracker and The Four Realms (2018)
Acting: Foy is the center of the Four Realms universe and blows the part out of the water. A model example of the girl power, modern woman role, she has grown much past her cinematic days of Twilight. Graceful, fierce, creative, and more importantly human, Foy played the balanced character well and made the most of the dialogue. Knightley hits her part on the mark as well, using that lighter pitch to bring the sensational sweetness of the fairy in her attempts to capture the hearts of the younger group.
The Ballet: Paying tribute to the most famous form of this story, Four Realms makes time to portray the art at the nexus of the four areas. A beautiful display of the dance form, the ballet Misty Copeland’s form was splendid to watch as she pirouetted and leaped amidst a wonderful stage that felt much like attending the ballet. For aspiring dancers of this form, this will be the favorite part.
The Music: Classic and modern meet together in this wonderful soundtrack, utilizing the theater technology to blast your ears with a symphony of sweetness. All the famous pieces are there for you to enjoy, whether it be the classical Nutcracker Suite to the wonderful balance of the Rat King’s theme. Fans of the music should be fulfilled with Disney’s use of these tracks and how it supports the visuals.
The Visuals: To save room, I’ll combine everything together in this like. The Four Realms is gorgeous, a true feast for the eyes at seeing everything come to life in a bountiful display of color, texture, detail, and magic of the world. Settings were dynamic representing high rich culture of the real world, and the whimsical wonder of Clara’s own world as each realm utilized a different countries architecture as a basis. Once the world was built, the computer animation came in and cleaned up the designs, bringing smooth transitions, realistic looking creatures, and that same Disney magic we love to be wrapped up in. Finally, the costumes and makeup are stunning themselves, crafting some of the most unique, fun, and curious characters to come out of the Disney woodwork. Expect lots of copying of their designs in future Halloween costumes my friends, because Four Realms deserves big praise and awards for makeup and wardrobe combining into this magical display.
Mice Design Choice: Okay, this is a small dislike, but one nonetheless. The mouse king and his subjects have a creative utilization, and are cute as a button when the field mouse design comes into play (in fact he is the most humorous and adorable part of the film). However, the letdown is that the mice are almost a carbon copy of the ones from Cinderella and quite simplistic compared to the rest of the visuals this movie held. Disney’s got the money and the imagination so I would like to see them use it more than this.
Under Utilization of Characters: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but after going through the motions to design all the wonderful characters, the studio did a lackluster job of using them. The denizens of the Four Reams disappear in the background, stifling their potential to tell a fantastic story, remain involved in the full movie, and really bring characters that we can grip on to. So while they sine bright in their 15 minutes on screen, there was so much more for them to bring to the table.
Story Presentation: The Nutcracker’s complex plots and multiple portrayals mean rich lore to dive into and immerse oneself in. Shame that Disney could not deliver on that story in this movie. While geared towards the target audience, Four Realms splendor is skin deep as much of the tale is lost like the fourth realm. Backstories are incomplete, questions are left unanswered, character development is surprisingly weak for most groups, and even worse those characters left out feel even flatter. The major saving grace is Clara whose girl power, dream big princess that will inspire the key demographic, but outside of that, the preachy morals cannot save the skimming and predictability this story focuses on, so can’t say I was impressed in this aspect.
The Action: No surprise, the action has been diluted for the key demographic in this group. Four Realms battles are really small skirmishes, that are cute, simplistic dances of choreography that lack any real bite to them. While this might be good for younger members, Four Realms needed more suspense to break through the predictability of the film. Some of the battles are also difficult to follow, due to dark settings, odd angles, and the speed of the film.
Four Realms continues to prove why Disney reigns high on the imagination train of visual perfection. Costumes, setting, ballet, and characters shine bright in this film, helping to bring one into the realms and root for Clara to succeed. Sadly, the movie’s focus on visuals and effects means that the story took hits, with only one story really holding any spark to net my interest. Disney didn’t utilize their characters to the full effect, and sort of robbed us of the complete experience that they were going for. Worth a trip for aspiring princesses, ballet artists, and the target audience of girls, but otherwise outside of visuals you can hold off on this one.
Movie Overall: 6..0