Beautiful cinematography fails to save bland storyline of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Ellie Hafer, Entertainment Assisstant

Disney released its newest movie, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Nov. 2. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston. The movie follows Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) as she delves into a magical world where toys come to life.
Visually, the movie looked gorgeous. The toys were stunning, and the costumes had intricate details. However, the main conflict seemed rushed, while the rest of the story felt slow, which detracted from the whole film.

The story begins at a Christmas party, when Clara receives a key as a gift. When a mouse steals her key, she is led into a whole new world, where toys come to life and time passes differently. From there she is plunged into the war between realms — the lands of flowers, ice and sweets versus the land of amusement, which is called the Fourth Realm.

On her search for the key, Clara befriends a nutcracker soldier (Jayden Fowora-Knight) who, along with the leaders of the realms, helps her to prepare to fight Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) and her army of mice.

As the story progresses, it seems that Mother Ginger is going to be the biggest problem, but in a twisted turn of events, the story is totally rewritten. After that the movie seems rushed and unfinished. When Clara goes to defeat the villain, there is no struggle and the realms are saved; all is well.

Clara returns to her family back in London, where nothing has changed. The end of the story seems almost disconnected from the plot, and it feels like it makes the movie longer than it needs to be.

The saving grace of the movie seems to be the costumes and the dances performed by Misty Copeland, who played a ballet dancer. For those who don’t know, Copeland is a ballet dancer for the American Ballet Theatre, one of the leading ballet companies in the nation. During the first round of credits, ballet and hip-hop dancers perform to Tchaikovsky’s piece, “Miniature Overture” from The Nutcracker ballet. Meanwhile, the costumes were intricately designed, with beautiful details and period-accurate pieces for the 19th century.

For those who have seen The Nutcracker ballet, the movie makes a nod to the original show by playing the songs as background music throughout the movie. The songs play in the order they do in the ballet, so for those who have previous knowledge of the ballet can trace the original storyline along with the film.

Overall, the reception of the film has not been too kind. According to Box Office Mojo, the film reached the No. 13 spot as of Dec. 10 and it didn’t show any chance of climbing. Reviews on are fairly negative, with a typical average of maybe three stars out of 10. Most gave this movie a little higher than average with a 5.5/10.

All in all, Disney struggled to pull off a successful remake. It lacked a consistent plot, and felt slow and unfinished. The choreography and costumes were nice, but weren’t good enough to save the film. For these reasons, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms receives a 6/10.