It’s funny, the trailer for “The Grinch” played before this started and I began to say “isn’t it too soon for Christmas movies?” before remembering what I was about to see…
“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” follows a young girl (Mackenzie Foy) who sets out to find the key to her deceased mother’s musical box, only to find herself in the middle of a conflict in a magical land. Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman also star, while Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston share directing credits.
So production on this film began in fall 2016 under the direction of Hallström, and then in December 2017 it was announced a month of reshoots would be done by Johnson. You should never read too much into reshoots, every movie does them, but like we saw with “Justice League” when a studio spends millions of additional dollars and more than a week or two on them, they’re usually in desperation mode to save a disaster. And boy oh boy, is this film a disaster.
I just…don’t know who this movie was made for. It is so slowly paced and at times plays like a Hot Topic fever dream (a bunch of mice pile on top each other to form one big mouse monster) so I can’t imagine young children will enjoy it, yet the acting is so over the map and the plot is so nonsensical that I don’t see parents staying engaged. Keira Knightley does half her performance in a squeaky voice and shouts the rest, harkening back to Eddie Redmayne in “Jupiter Ascending.” Eugenio Derbez continues being a grating presence in every film he is in, and (probable) future Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant is wasted. Mackenzie Foy is…fine in the lead role, sporting a British accent that actually holds up quite well (better than when young British actors try to do American accents).
The visuals are also…sufficient enough, with some of the swooping shots of the dark and snowy London skies are the lone sense of yuletide cheer to be found. Some of the interactions between human actors and animated characters look very fake, and the script has some awful bits of dialogue (and again, a plot that makes less sense than “not at all”).
“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is a film that barely focuses on the titular Nutcracker, is a kid’s movie that will bore kids and a Christmas movie that has little-to-nothing to do with Christmas. I head-bobbed on more than one occasion, and the first thing I said to my friend when this *thing* ended was, “yo. That was straight comatose.” I love Christmas movies and am all for a kid’s film randomly being dark and gritty, but this is barely a movie. In fact, it almost makes me want to join forces with the Grinch and cancel Christmas this year.
Critic’s Grade: D–
*disclosure: I did fall asleep in the middle of the film for about five minutes, so it’s possible I missed a scene that contained attractive visuals or a coherent plot. I should also note I never, ever fall asleep during movies. Take all this information how you like.
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