If you’re up for some blinged up Christmassy comfort, you could do worse than The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston, but you’d have to try very hard.
Clara Stalhbaum (Mackenzie Foy) is miserable because her mother died and her father is forcing her and her siblings to attend a ball on Christmas Eve. Before they head to the ball, he gives each of his children a gift from their late mother. Clara’s is a large egg ornament that needs a key to unlock it. The key is missing, despite her mother’s note saying that all she needs is in the gift.
Clara goes in search of the key.
There’s lots of eye candy to keep the audience entertained while the plot slides down a rabbit hole, er, I mean a tree trunk, to take Clara into a magical kingdom.
CGI wonder and wizardry just can’t save the basic need for an original plot, good dialogue, and something, anything, that challenges the audience. Yes, there is a stellar cast, including Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and Keira Knightley. Jayden Fowora-Knight glows in the role of Philip, the loyal nutcracker soldier.
But, we’re never, ever in doubt about how the story will end. So every slip of a foot from a rock over a raging waterfall, every drop off a precarious cliff does nothing to get out of the “ho hum, seen it before” realm. Sure, it’s whimsical and fun, so it gets a star for trying.