The Nutcracker and the Four Realms had a lot of unused potential


As a kid, the Nutcracker ballet was always an exciting part of the Christmas season. My mom and I would go see it together, and I still have the precious memories we created during those times. So it was only fitting that when a Nutcracker movie was released, my mom and I went to see it together. As we stepped into the movie theater, my expectations were high, and I was eager to see how the movie would compare to the ballet.

Sadly, I was immensely disappointed.

Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) and her family are still recovering from the devastating loss of their mother. On Christmas Eve, they attend a party thrown at her godfather’s (Morgan Freeman) mansion. When it comes time for the children to receive gifts, they find strings decorating the entire mansion, each one for a different child leading to their gift. Clara’s golden string takes her to a one-of-a-kind key hidden in a magical world comprised of four realms. Quickly she learns that her mother used to be the queen of this world and that currently, three of the realms are at war with the fourth. It’s up to her to restore peace. Along the course of her journey, she meets a noble nutcracker (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and the regents of the four realms (Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, Helen Mirren, and Richard E. Grant).

My first problem with this film was the plot itself. While I expected it to be slightly different from the ballet, I did not expect it to be as vastly different as it was. The Nutcracker was only a side character, and Clara’s search for the key was the focal point of the story. I continually felt myself getting fidgety and bored as the movie progressed, and it seemed to drag on forever.

I may have been able to get past this had Clara been a likable character, but I found her to be selfish and irritating. When she discovered that she was the princess of the magical world, she hardly hesitated to begin giving orders. She was quick to become angry and seemed to be only focused on her goal. Her lack of character development was annoying and made it difficult for me to enjoy the story itself.

Mackenzie Foy was a mediocre actor at best, and all of her dramatic scenes seemed forced. The other actors in the movie were better, and I especially loved the acting of Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman, and Helen Mirren. They portrayed their characters perfectly and effectively conveyed the intended emotions for each scene.

Another large downfall of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms was its use of music. Half the charm of the ballet is its music, so I expected the movie to be brimming with classics. However, I was once again disappointed. Towards the beginning of the movie, The Nutcracker Suite mingled itself beautifully into the ballroom scenes. But for the rest of the movie, the music was seldom showcased so elegantly. My favorite song, “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” was only briefly played in the background of a nerve-wracking scene and then not heard again until the credits.

However, the scenery did not disappoint. Every scene in the Four Realms had a whimsical backdrop. The costumes were elegant and stunning, highlighting the natural beauty of each character. I felt my jaw drop as the camera would pan out to show the full landscape of each scene. The fascinating sets alone captured my attention.

Overall, I felt that The Nutcracker and the Four Realms had a large amount of unrecognized potential. Occasionally, I was left satisfied by a scene, but most of the time I was let down. If I’m ever craving the enchanting Nutcracker story again, I will watch the ballet and accept that The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is not for me.