I love Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s immortal Winter love letter; it’s clear that lots of passion went into his work to empower your imagination. I’ll elucidate: his Waltz of the Flowers calms down nerves like a pink rose petal blizzard while his Waltz of the Snowflakes suggests a light snowfall that dances across your eyelashes until it becomes a blanketed white meadow against the night’s glitter. Outside of the familiar pieces, the music used at the entr’acte into the Land of the Sweets generates pure serene joy, a necessary treat for the ears after the Battle with the Mouse King tells a story through the instruments how toy soldiers line up for battle around the Christmas tree.
It’s a shame that Disney now completely disrespects Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet and annihilates all his hard work. Every cast member young and old in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms are fully aware of the pathetic clichés that forces them to speak indolent lines heard in every fantasy epic ever made.
For instance, Matthew Macfayden’s woodenness playing Clara’s father can’t convey a care for appearances that his character supposedly flaunts, giving no signs of sternness to contrast the fantastical world. Then there’s the way Mackenzie Foy (Interstellar) tries putting on an angry face, which fails hilariously beneath her great denseness. Mackenzie never conveys determination within her own reality; not once is she a believable match suited against Helen Mirren flinging around a flimsy whip. It’s even more laughable because everyone keeps telling Clara how useful she is, even though her unreactive personality looks totally incapable of servitude.
Although nobody is more teeth-grittingly annoying than Keira Knightley, the Sugar Plum Fairy (or in this adaptation, just “Sugar Plum”). The second Keira opens her mouth, you just want to roundhouse kick this hyperactive children’s show host back to 2006 when trends of a Narnia rip-off guaranteed actual box office significance. Perhaps because of Keira’s voice pitched higher than nails on a chalkboard, not one man, woman, or child actor here puts on an awestruck expression, not even Fritz when watching Clara’s Rube Goldberg machine/mouse trap.
Rather, the ominous tone stops any delightful moments from striking the kids in the audience, most of which are guaranteed trauma for weeks to come from watching one particularly freaky scene with cackling matryoshka doll clowns. Although I can’t express much hate toward such a nightmare fuel of a movie, even though all the elements of what strikes my nerve are here: a lazy overdone story, CGI abuse, disloyalty to the source material, all core reasons of why Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and A Wrinkle in Time made me leave the theater angry. While both those movies made every single actor a complete annoyance, in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, just one performance irritated me, so it wasn’t enough to piss me off.
Although one question goes unanswered right now… why did I see another Disney live action disservice to an old story in the first place… despite not wanting to? Simple: to check its Oscar chances that I wouldn’t know of without sitting through the whole thing. Turns out Oscar chances are possible in Production Design and Costume Design! Yes, I was in true awe of the yuletide personality breathed out from production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas (Inception, Passengers), which infuses Clara’s technical genius into the visuals with clockwork imagery. One of his wiser design choices hangs sharks above Godfather Drosselmeyer’s library to show the skeletons in his closet (ahem, head). Color just explodes everywhere in all the right doses as a ballet tells of Clara’s mother creating the four realms, very different from Clara’s mellow yet sophisticated lavender dress.
Can’t speak for how the enjoyment will translate for your tastes though, odds are you could get plenty furious at Disney for ruining a seasonal classic, that is, depending on your connection to the ballet. I fully understand, for what the great mouse has done to Tchaikovsky’s legacy is virtually comparable to how Fifty Shades of Grey started as a Twilight fanfiction written on a Blackberry—same effort, same motivation, same terrible product.
Henceforth, the only service The Nutcracker and the Four Realms does for society is remind us of the ballet’s wonderful classical compositions that resurrects our true selves. True art comes from passion, meditation, and thought, so that any interpretation made from the audience is always correct, because a personal touch hits another’s experience in a unique way. Notice how Fantasia reinterpreted the classical pieces into a seasonal progression, and it didn’t feel out of place because the images matched the music so perfectly. What we got on our hands right now though fails to be considered art, there’s no thought or meditation that can speak to every listener and viewer, which means this entire feature ought to be blotted from existence, then you’d have more time to go see the ballet live.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Disney Movies. Disney. Web. <https://movies.disney.com/the-nutcracker-and-the-four-realms>.
Polo, Susana. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms review.” Digital image. Polygon. Vox Media, 31 Oct 2018. Web. <https://www.polygon.com/2018/10/31/18049584/the-nutcracker-and-the-four-realms-review>.