Clara Stahlbaum (Mackenzie Foy) was turning over an internal part of a long-shaped musical box that had been taking her undergoing a thrilling adventure in the Fourth World. Her face turned positive as she found out the part was a small mirror reflecting back at her beautiful countenance. “Everything that you need is inside,” her mother, the late Marie Stahlabaum said to her. It was her mother’s words that were carrying Clara following her curiosity looking for a key to unlock the box.
Little did Clara know that her initial motive would lead her into something frightening, intriguing yet liberating. She quickly caught the point of the words; it was all herself that she needed to conquer Sugar Plum Fairy, a devilish regent of the Land of Sweets.
As much as Clara was expecting the answer of “what is inside the box” as the movie started, I, too was waiting for the thing the Queen Marie brought up. While Clara was relieved that she finally found her strength, and that she was her only resource to defeat the Sugar Plum, I was disappointed.
It wasn’t about the mirror. It was more on the acting and the expression of Mackenzie Foy that, in my humble opinion, was flat. That scene was supposed to be the essence of the overall movie yet the way she was telling audiences about that was just that.
Throughout the entire film, I was hoping the actress’s way of delivering the emotion of Clara as a teenage girl; a shy, clever yet rebellious person, would wow me. Sometimes, Clara did make it, such as when she was conversing with her father at the beginning of the movie. Her sadness and misunderstanding over her father’s apparent ignorance over her mother’s death was smoothly felt. Mackenzie did well on this part.
But when she was entering the parts that faced her with Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum or the Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), I can clearly tell the difference aside from the different roles each of them was playing.
In addition, the peak battle scene between the toys made by the Sugar Plum and the rats of the Mother Ginger didn’t run as epic as I initially expected. In fact, it didn’t frighten me as much as when Clara was attacked by the king of rats early in the movie.
Thankfully, thankfully, despite the overall disappointing performance from the leading actress, I loved the transition of Mother Ginger and the Sugar Plum. The way the director switched the perceptions of the two characters successfully surprised me. I didn’t expect the story would turn out at the very right moment with no clues at all. I salute the acts of Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren for this very swift transition.
As a die-hard fan of the Victorian era, I admit I was fully, completely entertained by the CGI, costume and settings of the movie. The scenes were wonderfully crafted to have resembled those in the era, at least as I watched so far in movies or imagined from Victorian-based novels.
I admire the editing team of the movie for the making the film is such a pure, beautiful art to enjoy. The castle, the forest, the streets both in London and the four realms were made in great details. And of course, the nutcracker itself with his peculiar costume that marks the identity of the fiction. Not to forget kudos for the team that managed the costumes and the accessories of the casts. And definitely the fantastic ballet dance!
Some minus points there yet a few positives here from The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. I hope my next anticipated movie, Mary Poppins Returns, will do me better than this one.