The Nutcracker and the Four Realms


The Nutcracker and the Four Realms  ★ 1/2

If Disney had decided to make a more traditional adaptation of The Nutcracker, Makenzie Foy (Interstellar) would have made a splendid Clara. Instead, the 17-year-old’s soulful talent is mostly wasted on a largely unrecognizable version of the Christmas season classic, which teases us with maybe 10 minutes of dazzling dance during an extravagantly produced segment featuring American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland (the first black woman to be promoted to principal performer in the company’s 75-year history), shoehorned into the middle of another of Disney’s lucrative line of live-action, middle-of-the-road fairy tales. Only this time, the film isn’t an adaptation of one of the Mouse House’s animated past hits. Instead, it strangely seems to be an update of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. From the Naboo-like kingdom bordered by waterfalls to the kind-seeming character who’s secretly (and duplicitously) plotting a war while amassing an army of droids—err, wind-up toy soldiers. The movie even includes the aforementioned army collapsing into heaps of scrap once its command unit is taken out. Just about the only thing missing here is a lightsaber duel. Co-directors Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules) and Joe Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger) have assembled a fine cast (including Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren) to fill out their handsome production, but Ashleigh Powell’s unnecessary “new” story is just as egregious as composer James Newton Howard’s supposed betterment of Tchaikovsky’s timeless music. (At Assembly RowBoston CommonFenway, Seaport, South Bay and in the suburbs.)

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