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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Movie Review: Light Holiday Action

Otherworldly challenges bring out self-confident girl power!

Reviewed by on Nov 01, 2018
Rating: 3 Star Rating

Kidzworld saw The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Can this popular holiday story transfer from famous ballet to action adventure? Check out our movie review.

By: Lynn Barker

In The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, sullen Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is given a locked present from her late mother. She needs the key to open it. At her godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, she follows the key into a mysterious parallel world. There she meets Nutcracker soldier Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), lots of feisty mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets. Mice take the key into the forbidden, dark Fourth Realm where Clara learns there is much more at stake than opening her holiday present.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms Trailer

Christmas Eve

In late 1800’s London, Clara, a whiz at all things mechanical, sets up an elaborate machine to catch a mouse. Her little bro Fritz (Tom Sweet) is impressed. Clara, Fritz and older sis Louise (Ellie Bamber) miss their recently deceased mom Marie (Abba Madeley) and are in no mood to go to their godfather Dosselmeyer’s big holiday party. Dad (Matthew MacFadyen) gives them presents from their late mom. Clara’s is a locked, elaborate egg-shaped box but there is no key. Mom left a note saying “Everything you need is inside”. Frustrating!

Dosselmeyer is Clara's godfatherDosselmeyer is Clara's godfatherCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Dosselmeyer and a Strange Land

Clara goes to the party hoping her godfather can open the box since it appears he made it for her mom years ago. He says the lock is complicated and hard to pick. The young people at the party follow an elaborate series of labeled strings to find their gifts. Clara’s string leads her into a dark section of the mansion and through a huge, hollow tree trunk into a snow-filled other world!

Clara follows the string to her keyClara follows the string to her keyCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

There is the key but a tiny mouse runs with it. Clara gives chase to a bridge guarded by a Nutcracker soldier who says she is a princess and his name is Phillip. The mouse has crossed over with the key into the forbidden Fourth Realm which is at war with the other three.

Clara sees the mouse with her keyClara sees the mouse with her keyCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

The Land of Sweets

After tangling in the Fourth Realm with a massive pile of mice shaped into a kind of Mouse King monster, Clara, guided by Phillip, leaves the land and ends up at the palace in the Land of Sweets ruled by the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley). Sugar Plum and the two regents of the Land of Snowflakes and Land of Sweets are devastated to learn that Marie, their queen, is dead. They explain that the Fourth Realm used to be called the Land of Amusements but its regent, Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) greedily wanted to rule all the realms and even her own people rejected her leaving the land in ruin. Sugar Plum takes Clara inside an amazing clock where she can see the party back home going on but everyone is moving ultra slowly. Sugar Plum explains that time moves much, much slower there.

Sugar Plum and the regents tell Clara about the warSugar Plum and the regents tell Clara about the warCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Mom and Clara’s Journeys

Clara is lauded as the new queen and is presented at court while a beautiful dancer (Misty Copeland) performs a dance explaining how Clara’s mother discovered the Realms. Sugar Plum explains that she needs to build a bigger army to defeat Mother Ginger and, to do that, she needs Clara’s key. Feeling she needs to step up and represent for mom, Clara, guides Sugar Plum’s soldiers and Phillip into the Fourth Realm to get the key. After being confronted by eerie fog, a giant animatronic Mother Ginger, her feisty and annoying group of clowns, and meeting Mother Ginger herself, Clara gets the key.

Mother Ginger rules the Fourth RealmMother Ginger rules the Fourth RealmCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Opening the Box

Safe, later, Clara opens her gift egg. There is nothing inside. It is just a music box. How can this be “everything you need” as mom’s note to her said? Clara wants to go home but Phillip convinces her that she is strong and a leader. They go back to Sugar Plum’s castle and give her the key. She uses an amazing “engine” created by Clara’s mother, to enlarge tin toy soldiers which come alive and ready to fight. Sugar Plum explains that she will use them to attack the Fourth Realm and Mother Ginger. Clara thought they were just for protection.

Sugar Plum introduces Clara at courtSugar Plum introduces Clara at courtCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Secret Intentions?

When Sugar Plum admits that she felt abandoned and angry when Clara’s mom Marie left the land, Clara begins to wonder if Mother Ginger is really the bad guy here. What really happened between the once happy Land of Amusements and the other Realms? Should she support Sugar Plum’s war against the Fourth Realm? Should she have given Sugar Plum the key? Will she figure out why what is inside the egg-shaped music box gift is “Everything” she might need? Will Clara ever be able to return to her own world?

Clara leads Phillip and soldiers into the Fourth RealmClara leads Phillip and soldiers into the Fourth RealmCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Wrapping Up

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms had two directors, went through re-shoots and it shows.  The film was evidently much longer but has been cut down to 90-something minutes. As a result, there is no real pressure on the plot, not enough suspense or true danger. Although the familiar Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker” music is evident throughout, we expected a bit more dancing considering the famous ballet we all know. However, popular prima ballerina Misty Copeland provides two delightful dances. Stay in your seat for the credits to enjoy one of them.

Ballerina Misty CopelandBallerina Misty CopelandCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Production and costume design is beautiful, animated mice are often adorable and it’s modern and cool that the young female lead is an uber-smart inventor and, for all intents and purposes,  a mechanical engineer back in a time when women were to be seen and rarely heard.

Clara with Sugar Plum and other regentsClara with Sugar Plum and other regentsCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

There is a nice character twist with Keira Knightley providing several levels to the usually “sweetsie” Sugar Plum Fairy. Dame Helen Mirren is, as usual, feisty and excellent as the supposed “baddie” Mother Ginger, showing an unexpected vulnerable side.

Regent of the Land of Flowers is colorfulRegent of the Land of Flowers is colorfulCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

But, “Nutcracker” is Clara’s coming of age story and Mackenzie Foy, most remembered as Renesmee, the daughter of Twilight’s Bella and Edward, has grown into a beautiful, luminous young actress who is lovely and expressive to watch. Young Jayden Fowora-Knight as the Nutcracker/Phillip is charming enough but has too little to do.

Frosty regent of the Land of SnowflakesFrosty regent of the Land of SnowflakesCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

Although we are sure there could have been more excitement, adventure and plot twists, “Nutcracker” is entertaining enough to rate three stars.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realm Movie Rating: 3

The Nutcracker and The Four Realms Movie PosterThe Nutcracker and The Four Realms Movie PosterCourtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

See The Nutcracker and the Four Realms in theaters now!

Tell Us What You Think!

Are you a fan of the famous ballet? Have you gone to see it? Are you hoping for this Nutcracker film to provide both beauty and exciting adventure? Talk about the holiday classic and this movie below. Comment or write your own review on your Kidzworld Profile Page!