"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Monday, December 28, 2020

Movie Review: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

Merry Christmas to you all!

Here we are on the fourth day of Christmas, which is ideal as and Iʼm bringing you a movie review which deals with something in fours. Instead of “calling birds” it has four “realms”: snowflakes, flowers, sweets, and entertainment. I rewatched this earlier with my sisters, and I hadnʼt seen it since two years ago when I saw it in the theater. Where does time go? What are my thought on it? Read on and all will be revealed.

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. This is spoiler free!

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018):
Based on: The Nutcracker (short story) - by E. T. A. Hoffmann, and The Nutcracker (the ballet) - by Marius Petipa.
Clara is going to a party held at the house of her godfather, Drosselmeyer, but itʼs the first year without her mother and she hates how her father pretends that nothing has changed. Additionally she is frustrated that her motherʼs parting gift to her is locked, and all she wants is to get inside it. Her godfatherʼs present leads her to mysterious new land, where she learns that the people knew her mother. She goes on with determination to find the key that has been taken from her. Will she find everything that she needs?
“Remember, Clara, some locks are harder to pick than others.”
Fantasy, Adventure.
Length: approx. 99 minutes.
Script: 8, only one bad word, and Iʼm going to talk about this later, but the dialogue all felt forced.
ʻ“Remember your training, stay alert!”
“Iʼm not alert, Iʼm scared.”ʼ
Crew: Directed by: Lasse Hallström & Joe Johnston. Written by: Ashleigh Powell, E. T. A. Hoffmann, & Marius Petipa.
Mackenzie Foy as Clara Stahlbaum.
Jayden Fowora-Knight as Captain Phillip.
Keira Knightley as Sugar Plum.
Eugenio Derbez as Hawthorne.
Richard E. Grant as Shiver.
Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger.
Morgan Freeman as Drosselmeyer.
Tom Sweet as Fritz Stahlbaum.
Ellie Bamber as Louise Stahlbaum.
Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Stahlbaum.
Omid Djalili as Cavalier.
Jack Whitehall as Harlequin.
Charles “Lil Buck” Riley as the Mouse King.
Anna Madeley as Marie Stahlbaum.
And featuring special performances by Misty Copeland.
8, nothing bad (except someone not wearing a shirt in the credits), and some are quite marvelous, but in places they feel overdone. You feel so surrounded by the visuals added by the costumes, that it is overwhelming and you arenʼt experiencing everything. When I first saw it I hated the makeup, but on the rewatch it didnʼt bother me at all. In fact, itʼs kind of fun, but I was really distracted by the costumes.
Is it any surprise that I feature a picture for the Land of Snowflakes? No? You guys know me and my obsessions too well.
Costumes designed by:
Jenny Beavan.
Cinematography: 7, Iʼm kind of conflicted here because like the costumes, some were jaw-dropping, and some are too much. I canʼt complain about the opening, because even though it is all CGI, it is so cool. I absolutely love the aesthetic of Drosselmeyerʼs house. The party with the ribbons leading to gifts are genius, and my sisters and I were saying that we want to be in a house that has that. When Clara goes into the four realms, things begin to be a little overkill. Now, that might be intentional, but I found it distracting.
I LOVED this part!
Cinematography by:
Linus Sandgren.
Music: 10, I love how they took so much inspiration from the ballet!
Music by: James Newton Howard.
Notes: There were references to both The Wizard of Oz and Fantasia (1940)
Quotability: 5. There arenʼt many quotable parts (not that thatʼs a great crime), but I want to talk about the dialogue. The word I would use to describe it is “painful”. It is so awkward! Very forced. I just couldnʼt stop laughing by how bad it is! There were a few good lines, usually spoken by Drosselmeyer or Captain Philip, where it seemed more natural.
Content: 8, as it says, there is some “mild peril”, and some scary and/or gross things. There is fighting, and talk about bringing objects to life.
Originality: 9, very different from the ballet, and very original! The plot is extremely creative. It just gets a 9 instead of a 10 because there are some plot holes.
Good For:
Fans of the ballet, fans of the actors, someone looking for impressive visuals, anyone who has lost a family member or friend.
Age Range: There are some scenes which would be very scary for little kids (and me, I mean, clowns are terrifying and there are clowns). I would say 10 and up, but it depends on the individual.
Overall Score: 7.5.
Worth watching?: Yes, there is a sweet message (ha, thatʼs a nice pun because one of the realms is the Land of Sweets) that Iʼm happy to now know. The visuals are really what I talk about frequently, and for most part I enjoy them.
Will I watch again?: Iʼve now seen it twice, and I think thatʼs good for me. As I said, there is nothing bad about the story, no problems that bother my moral, I just think that Iʼm good. Who knows, maybe in a decade Iʼll feel like this is a good way to spend two hours.
Bonus thoughts:

This is a movie that Iʼm very glad that I saw on the big screen because it was very visually impressive. I thought that it was pretty cool with some neat twists on the story. Then, it was one of those movies that during rewatches you make fun of it the whole time. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, just pet peeves on my part. I do enjoy parts a lot, but I want to end on a high note, so Iʼll talk about those last.

Starting off, is Clara. They were trying so hard to make her a relatable character, and I really wanted to connect with her, but I couldnʼt. I feel she is inconsistent. My sisters would probably disagree, but some of her actions contradict each other. She is constantly learning who she is, but I feel they couldʼve just added a few tiny details to make it flow better.

That being said, I think the title of the movie is misleading. It should be "Clara and the Four Realms", or "Clara, the Nutcracker, and the Four Realms". "Clara Adventures into the Four Realms". "Claraʼs Battle against the Fourth Realm". "Clara Finds the Nutcrackerʼs World". I could be here all day coming up with substitutes because anything would work better than The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

The really best movies are the ones that shock you with plot twists, then the next time you watch the film you see how everything was pointing to that all along and you couldnʼt believe how you didnʼt see it. With this one I was surprised by the plot the first time, but rewatching it, there is literally no foreshadowing. I know, this is the picky storyteller in me coming out. I have such a problem with writing foreshadowing, that it is nonexistent, so I understand. Usually, I complain “itʼs so predictable”. But, the twists that the plot takes are almost unreasonable. Just throwing some things in through out would help connect it, or taking time to have a bigger explanation afterwards would make it more solid. I did enjoy several elements in the end, and just wanted to have it wrapped up more.

Time for the enjoyable bits! I really liked the performances of Morgan Freeman and Keira Knightley! They were both grand. My favorite character was Captain Philip, who I now keep calling “sweet captain” or “brave captain”. The music, and some of the aesthetics were spectacular. Misty Copeland had great dancing and I wanted to see more!

If I were to say there is a word to go with this movie it would be “remember”. As you may have noticed, both of the quotes from the movie that I included have that word, and many other lines had it as well. While this film doesnʼt have a lot of Christmas, it is a very fitting word for the season. We remember our family, friends, and past. We need to remember them with love, and continue to make the world a place that they would be proud of.

Oh, and as you can all see, my sister made me a Christmas header! It features the words to her favorite Christmas song, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" which comes from the movie Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), which you can see in the top left corner.
Follow that clockwise: White Christmas (1954), It's a Wonderful Life (1946) [My favorite!], Home Alone (1990)Elf (2003), and A Christmas Story (1983).

Thanks for reading! Have any of you seen this movie? I would love to talk about it to you. Have you ever seen a movie that has amazing visuals, and at the same time you think it is too much? Let me know! How was Christmas for all of you? Are you all done now, or like me and my family, are you just getting started on the celebration? Itʼs the end of the year, so Iʼll be trying to get out a lot of posts in the next few days, so keep an eye out for that!



  1. I saw this movie when it was in the theater, so my memory of it is a little fuzzy, but the visuals are AMAZING! I actually really liked the costumes. Very unique.
    Ok, I'll admit I'm not sure I know this obsession. Why is there a picture of the Land of Snowflakes? Not that I'm complaining. It's a great picture. Is the obsession part snow? Or winter? Or one of the actors?
    I definitely agree with you about the script! I feel like maybe the writing wasn't the best. I mean, I enjoyed it, but I'm not in a rush to see it again. Great review.

    1. Whenever I think of all the design that went into the aesthetics, I'm wowed! It is pretty incredible in that way! I really liked the costumes the first time and I'm not sure why I thought they were too much this time.
      Yep, it's about how I'm obsessed with snow! Basically, how Bubby the Elf reacts to "Santa!!!!" is what I do whenever there is snow. Which is all winter long where I live and my sisters get VERY tired of it. Haha!
      Now that I've rewatched that's how I feel. Good, but if I don't see it again, I'll survive. Thanks!

  2. I saw it in theaters as well, with my mom, so I kind of have a special spot for it. However, I do agree it has problems. I wanted Captain Philip to have way more screentime than he got, and the plot twists were rather predictable. But Misty Copeland was a big plus.

    1. That's so fun! I know that I have very distinct memories from seeing it in the theater with my sisters which I'll always remember, too. Yes, I wanted more Captain Phillip! I mean, he is the "nutcracker", right? Somehow it had this weird mix of no foreshadowing and predictability at the same time. She was my favorite part!

  3. I tagged you for The Fantastic and Felicitous Fictional Character Blog Tag!

  4. This one is so pretty, but I felt the story was really lacking. Loved Kiera Knightly though oh and Philip.

    1. Yeah, they went all out on the aesthetic, but could've spent more time planning the plot. The performances of those two were the highlights!


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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles