- 14 Nov 18
Visually sumptuous but emotionally empty fantasy adventure
There is a scene in The Nutcracker And The Four Realms where toy tin soldiers are brought to life. The soldiers are identical, highly decorated, shiny, impressive. Their quest is to defend a magical kingdom, to keep the beauty and hope alive. But a humble nutcracker is wary: “Them? But they’re tin. They’re completely hollow inside.”
Ah, dear Nutcracker, how right you are. Soulless things should be treated with suspicion, no matter how snazzy their trappings. Because they don’t have any heart, and that’s where the real magic lies.
Disney’s adaptation of The Nutcracker does try to update this classic tale for a modern audience. Mackenzie Foy of Interstellar plays our cookie-cutter YA heroine Clara, who is smart and scientific, missing a parent and a personality. When a Christmas Eve mystery unlocks the door to a magical world, Clara must explore Oz/Wonderland/Camazotz/Narnia and discover she is strong/powerful/Divergent/her mother’s daughter.
The plot-and-character-by-numbers screenplay lack the wit, warmth or depth necessary to become a classic – which is a genuine shame, as there are pleasures to be had here. Disney continues its welcome commitment to diverse casting, featuring newcomer Jayden Fowora-Knight as Clara’s Nutcracker soldier guide, though the characters’ PG romance has been disappointingly neutered into non-existence. With few jokes and one-dimensional characters, The Nutcracker remains a tin soldier – pretty, empty, echoing, and indistinguishable from its peers.