I am as cultured as the next guy standing in line at the bus stop, but despite my dislike and lack of interest toward movie musicals, I actually had some semblance of hope for “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” another in the cookie-cutter-line of Disney products containing high production values and marketed for the masses.
MacKenzie Foy (“Interstellar”) plays Clara. She and her family are invited to a holiday gathering on the mountainside. Clara’s godfather, Drosselmeyer, is portrayed by Morgan Freeman. Some misadventures unfold and Clara has to tell everyone she knows about her mom’s untimely death.
An almost unrecognizable Keira Knightley plays Sugar Plum, one of Clara’s mom’s creations. Further involvement includes protagonists Shiver (Richard E. Grant) and Hawthorne (Eugenio Derbez). They all come from the imagination of Clara’s deceased mother, who oversees the realm.
Helen Mirren plays Mother Ginger, an ominous and foreboding character, who turns into an asset after a few predicaments. Like most of her roles as of late, Mirren wanted a role that was challenging.
“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” was co-directed by Lasse Hallström (“Chocolat,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”) and Joe Johnston (“Captain America: The First Avenger”), who bring their own oversized versions of the original tale of “The Nutcracker” (2009) to the silver screen.
The duo seemed unsure which direction to take this movie and, for some unknown reason, it just treaded in mediocrity. Sure, some of the set pieces were a touch overblown, but when it comes to the realm of fantasy, I’ll take that with a grain of salt.
Also woven into the storyline are a few key scenes with Misty Copeland who is credited as the Ballerina Princess. Her appearance, although brief, propels the fantasy elements in the storyline.
As I’ve said in the past, I go into movies with my mind as a blank slate. Unfortunately, the overblown antics that presided over this film were run-of-the-mill and lacked the verve that went into the productions like the enjoyable re-telling of C. S. Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (2005), directed by Andrew Adamson.
Each of those particular tales, including “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” (2010) and “Prince Caspian” (2008), had something to admire. None exploded onto the screen, but they were each nicely told stories that finished with a satisfactory palate.
I also admired Kenneth Branagh’s direction of “Cinderella” in 2015. There was no hokey song-and-dance numbers to be found. Branagh just took the tale and told the story simply and clearly.
I just wanted more from “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” even though I can deal with the creepy clowns, the ridiculous McGuffins and the sincerity of this so-so family tale. So the readers know, the screening I attended was in 2-D, not the pretentious 3-D.