Review by Maria Alessandro
The late 90s and early 2000s is when all the iconic Disney movies were made. From “The Lion King” to “Toy Story” and “Mulan,” the content of the ‘old’ Disney films has set the bar high for future films in the industry. Lately, I haven’t been entirely impressed by all the changes and excess fantasia effects in films, but I decided I had to give the Disney film “Nutcracker and the Four Realms” a chance.
I’ll be honest, I’m a sucker for Disney films, but I didn’t know what this movie was going to be like. The movie poster and the music seemed magical and colorful, which is what attracted me to it in the first place. I personally think that the right music can make a movie complete and strengthen the overall tone, so when I heard a sneak peek of one of the songs, I knew I had to see the movie. I was listening to a Disney Hits Spotify playlist when “Fall on Me” by Andrea and Matteo Bocelli, a father son duo, came on; it was a moving piece that depicted a close relationship with its beautiful lyrics. After listening to this song, I was anticipating the film’s release date of Nov. 2 to experience the magic.
I may be biased as a Disney lover, but I enjoyed the film more than I expected. It definitely wasn’t the best motion picture I’ve ever seen, but it was a moving story of a father and daughter. They learn how to appreciate their relationship as the daughter goes on an adventure through four different realms. For those who are completely unfamiliar with any background of the film, it is based on the famous ballet called “The Nutcracker” by Ivan Vsevolozhsky and Marius Petipa with compositions by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.
If viewers are expecting the film to be exactly like the ballet, then don’t see it. Unlike the ballet, the movie was more action-packed and had a more interesting plot. There’s a diversity of characters who help Clara discover her place after her mom has passed away.
While a lot of the main plot and backstory are different, there are similar elements. The movie is still based around Christmas and the main character is a young girl named Clara. A nutcracker comes to life and, of course, the iconic Tchaikovsky music is included. A few ballet scenes and a cameo of ballerina Misty Copeland were also fun additions. The movie is a modern twist on the ballet. It’s one of those feel-good stories that I like. Even though it’s not always realistic, I love happy endings and this movie had a significant one.
I also enjoyed the movie because of the acting. Mackenzie Foy, who played Clara acted brilliantly for only being 17. Also, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman were in the film. While I loved the plot twists that Mirren’s character of Mother Ginger gave, Knightley and Freeman were less impressive. What bothered me about Knightley’s character, the Sugar Plum Fairy, was her high-pitched breathy voice. Otherwise, her acting was dynamic. Also, Freeman, who plays Godfather a.k.a Drosselmeyer, was one of the few non-British actors in the movie, so his American accent and how he pronounced Clara’s name different from everyone else was a bit annoying.
The best actor in the whole film was the nutcracker named Philip, played by an actor I had never heard of: Jayden Fowora-Knight. His character’s compassion and kindness for Clara and those around him was an uplifting reminder of the power of friendship.
The movie was by no means perfect. I was disappointed that the beloved song “Fall on Me” wasn’t played until the end credits, but for a relatively short movie of only 99 minutes that portrays a good message and leaves the viewer feeling happy, it was definitely worth seeing. I forced my 9-year-old brother to go with me, and afterwards, he begrudgingly admitted it was a good film, a solid 8/10 rating. If you have a moment to de-stress and don’t want to watch something too deep, then “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is the perfect movie to watch, especially when it comes out on DVD in February of 2019.