DISNEY’S THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS – A Digital HD Review by John Strange
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a retelling of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s short story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and Marius Petipa’s The Nutcracker from directors Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston and writer Ashleigh Powell.
Set in Victorian England, the story follows Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) on Christmas Eve following the death of her mother. The family is set to attend a party that evening but Mr. Stahlbaum gives each child a present set aside for them by his late wife Marie (Anna Madeley). Clara’s gift is a handcrafted egg-shaped box but not the key to open it.
Clara accompanies her father (Matthew Macfadyen) and her siblings Louise (Matthew Macfadyen) and Fritz (Tom Sweet) to the home of Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), the godfather of the children and a skilled engineer.
Drosselmeyer’s party is an extravagant soirée with gorgeous outfits and lots of dancing. And for the kids, presents, wonderful gifts each selected for the child. To get their gift, each child must follow a string tagged with their name. Fritz discovers a nutcracker soldier at the end of his string. Clara’s string leads her to a magical place outside of the normal world. What she hopes to find is the key to open the mechanical egg which came from her mother.
What she finds is a magical place which is home to four realms. A place built by her enormously talented mother in her youth. Three of the realms are at war with the fourth. The three realms are the Land of Sweets (Regent: Sugar Plum Fairy, Keira Knightley), the Land of Snowflakes (Regent: Shivers, Richard E. Grant), and the Land of Flowers (Regent: Hawthorne, Eugenio Derbez). The fourth realm is the Land of Amusements but they no longer call it by that name. The residents of the other three realms only call it the Fourth Realm. Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) was the regent there.
The object of Clara’s search, the key, is at the end of her string. But it will not be that easy for her to obtain it. Just as she is about to grasp the prize, a mouse grabs it and runs. Clara gives chase but fails to catch the mouse when she is prevented from pursuing the rodent across a bridge by the bridge guard, Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight).
When Phillip realizes the identity of the young lady, he bows to Princess Clara and escorts her to the capital. From here the story takes the young Princess through learning how her mother is connected to the realms and what is behind the conflict between the three realms and the fourth. We see the bright young lady shoulder the responsibility that comes with her new title and all of the dangers that come from that action.
There are battles and betrayals which lead to additional battles. The battle scenes are dark, anathema to the realms’ colors. Only the fourth realm’s colors are muted, testimony of the strife it is feeling.
The story is one that most people will enjoy, full of eye-popping characters and subtle humor that segues into something darker after the betrayal. I wish I was able to say that I loved the story and the film. I liked it but loved the ballet. Misty Copeland as the Ballerina Princess and Sergei Polunin as the Sweets Cavalier are brilliant performers who bring their “A Game” to the dance and it shows.
The extras that came with this film for home are interesting. The standard “deleted scenes” were okay but the featurettes included three videos worth the cost of the disk or download. The first is about the ballet from the film and features Misty Copeland. The other two are music videos that feature Andrea Bocelli with Matteo Bocelli (“Fall On Me”) and Lang Lang (“The Nutcracker Suite”). Each of these blew me away. My favorite of the three is the father and son Bocelli’s singing “Fall On Me”. I have watched it three times so far. Brilliant.
I had a real problem deciding upon a rating for this offering. The overall rating does not rise to the level of “BRAND NEW” but is better than “SALE ITEM”. In the end, after some soul searching, I had to go with SALE ITEM for my rating. Kids will enjoy the visual pleasures of the film as will most adults but the adults may find the story a tad thin though the sound track is excellent.
- Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston
- Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Sergei Polunin, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Ellie Bamber, Omid Djalili, Jack Whitehall, Meera Syal, Tom Sweet, Nick Mohammed, Charles Streeter, Prince, Gustavo Dudamel, Max Westwall, Aaron Smyth, Anna Madeley
- Becoming Clara
- On Pointe: Misty Copeland
- Deleted Scenes
- Unwrapping The Nutcracker And The Four Realms
- Exclusive – Unwrapped: The Visual Effects Of The Nutcracker And The Four Realms
- Music Video “Fall On Me” By Andrea Bocelli, Featuring Matteo Bocelli
- Music Video “The Nutcracker Suite” By Lang Lang
- 99 Minutes
- Walt Disney Studios
- A/1 (U.S. and Canada only)
- SALE ITEM
Selig Rating Scale:
BRAND NEW: Should add to your DVD collection at any cost
SALE ITEM: Worth owning, but try to catch it a sale
SECOND HAND: Plan to get it, but wait to buy it used
RENTAL: Worth taking a look at, but not owning
COASTER: Pick it up at a garage sale and use it for drinks
PULL!: Makes a great Trap Shooting target