I was thrilled when the trailer for Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms came out. It looked like an epic Christmas fantasy adventure. Quite different from the Santa stories usually released at that time of year.
I have seen the traditional story of the Nutcracker in several different adaptions. For this reason, I was comfortable that the film would be suitable for both my kids, who are aged 6 and 11.
As the movie opened, the visuals were absolutely stunning. We flew over what looked like Victorian London, and took in the sights. We were introduced to Clara (MacKenzie Foy) and her young brother Fritz (Tom Sweet), as they tried to trap a mouse. We then met the rest of Clara’s family and learnt that they had lost their mother recently. At this point I got a few hugs from both children, who were saddened at the thought.
As the story progressed, the costuming and sets continued to be breath-taking. The monarchs of the Four Realms, all had really elaborate costuming and make-up. I found the Flower Realm King (Eugenio Derbez) particularly enchanting, and of course the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley) was a vision with candy floss hair. There were many Hollywood names in the cast, which added to the fun for me. Much of the scenery was computer generated, but I found it worked well for the type of fantasy movie this is.
I loved the character of Clara. She was brave, smart and practical. She reminded me of many great female book characters that I have introduced my children to over the years. Despite moments of immaturity, she showed guts and determination. She was a firm leader too. My eldest really enjoyed Clara as a character too. My youngest was dazzled by the beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy.
Not your usual Nutcracker
The story is quite different from the original Nutcracker ballet, which I did find a little jarring. I won’t add any spoilers here. There were one or two scenes that were a bit much for my 6 year old. At one point, as the mice are attacking the Nutcracker (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and Clara, she turned to me and said “are you sure this is a movie for children?” I said, “yes, you are okay to be here. I wouldn’t have brought you along otherwise”. The mouse king and the clowns worried her a little, but she soldiered on much like the Clara and the Nutcracker.
If you are looking for a traditional Nutcracker experience, this is not it. There is barely any ballet dancing and the music from the ballet is used almost too sparingly. Still, I was absolutely thrilled to see Misty Copeland playing The Ballerina at one point in the movie. To see her dance in this was magic! She also does a piece over the credits. It was really neat that they also included some movements from Hiplet, which is a hip hop ballet fusion. My children commented that it looked a little odd, but they were fascinated all the same and we talked about how all types of dance can be used to tell a story.
This movie did receive some bashing elsewhere, mainly due to expectations. I personally found it a fun watch. It’s probably more suitable for older children. For us, it was exactly what we hoped for – a beautiful fantasy adventure story!
Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is available from 6th March on DVD and Blu-ray. Click here to shop with Mighty Ape.
Written by Kym Moore
When she isn’t herding kids or cats, Kym loves to drink craft beer, or share a whine and a wine with friends. She is also partial to a well-made cocktail. Her happy places include sitting on couch watching British Comedy and daydreaming. Lots of daydreaming.
Favourite artist: Bowie