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| 19 November 2018 | Reply

Written by Ashleigh Powell from the ballet by Marius Petipa, based on the story by E.T.A. Hoffman, adapted by Alexandre Dumas
Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston
Starring Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightly, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Richard E Grant
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
6 1/2 /10 for me… 9/10 for the kids

Let’s face it: as a grumpy ole fifty-something man, I’m not the target demographic for Disney’s blockbuster reimagining of the Tchaikovsky & Petipa’s classic ballet The Nutcracker.

As a film critic, we could discuss the fact that Joe Johnston was brought in for an expensive month of reshoots some months after Lasse Hallström wrapped shooting, which might explain the slightly choppy feel to the narrative, and some minor confusions along the way.

Instead, though, I’d rather view the film through my eleven year old’s eyes. Enthralled with the admittedly superb CGI and hyper-imaginative and manic visual feel of the fantasy world of the Four Realms, and enraptured by the adventure which Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) finds herself swept up in.

When Clara is given a locked metal egg by her mourning father which was left to her by her recently deceased mother, she is determined to find the key. Confiding in her godfather Drosselmeyer (Morgan Freeman), he sends her through a magical portal to the Narnia-like land of the Four Realms.

As Clara searches for the missing key to her mother’s gift discovers that the gift itself is, in fact, the key to her own growing up.

She befriends Philip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), the last Nutcracker soldier, and is forced to try to discover who is the real evil threatening the peaceful land.

Some of the supporting cast are completely wasted – Richard E Grant as the regent of The Land Of Snow looks amazing but serves little other purpose than window dressing, for instance. Keira Knightley as Sugarplum, the Regent of The World Of Sweets, gives a gleefully unhinged performance that lacks nuance and skill but looks nice. Helen Mirren and Freeman do what they do and have done many times, and do them admirably, without delivering any surprises.

But again, all this is of little relevance to my daughter and millions of other kids and families who will love watching this film. They will marvel at the giant rodent made from hundreds of mice, think the Mouse Prince is amazingly cute, stare in awe at the most enticing screen fantasy world since Narnia, and be enthralled by the two ballet vignettes featuring the incredible Misty Copeland.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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