Really Late Movie Review: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Date: 20 June 2019

Last year’s movies are starting to show up on Netflix and other streaming services. That means I finally got to see The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

My daughters have done ballet for a long time. Because of that, I’ve seen the Nutcracker Ballet several times. With that in the back of my mind, I went into The Four Realms looking to see what they did to the story.

What they did was change it rather significantly. Most of the things you would expect of a Nutcracker story are there. Clara ends up in a strange realm, meets a nutcracker, and tours the realms. The biggest difference is how they handle the villain. More on that in bit.

The Four Realms is a gorgeous movie. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Disney. In some ways, London looks more fake than the Realms. I don’t mean that in a bad way. The Realms look real. It’s hard to make candy city look real but Disney pulled it off.

I also liked Mackenzie Foy as Clara. She did a good job making me feel Clara’s sorrow dealing with the death of her mother (which happens before the movie starts). She also pulled off the intensity she needed as she faced down the villain.

I want to talk about the villain more but I can’t without spoilers (which I try to avoid in these reviews). So, if you haven’t seen The Nutcracker and the Four Reams, I’ll just say that villain was delightfully demented. I would definitely recommend seeing it. For the rest of you (or if you don’t care about spoilers) let’s press on.

Beware spoilers all ye you read beyond here!

One of the changes that was made here was to make the Suger Plum fairy the villain. Keira Knightley’s performance was both super sweet and demented. It’s your typical turncoat villain but Knightley’s performance make is special.

I’m not fond of Disney’s trend of making the villains out of the traditional heroes of the stories. Maleficent is the perfect example of this. In The Nutcracker, Clara’s mom (Marie) created the Four Realms. Her story seems to be more along the lines of the classic Nutcracker tale. Clara’s story almost feels like a sequel to that.

Sugar Plum feels hurt because Marie “abandoned” the Realms. (In reality, Marie grew up.) It’s sort of like the villain toys in the Toy Story movies. Because this feels more like a sequel, Sugar Plum’s change doesn’t bother me so much.

One of the biggest problems with The Four Realms is that Clara, Nutcracker, and Sugar Plum are only characters with any character. The others are every bit as hollow as the tin soldiers that make up Sugar Plum’s army. Even Nutcracker feels a little wooden, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Despite the weaknesses, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is an enjoyable movie. It’s absolutely worth watching.