THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS

Searching for a key that will unlock a precious gift from her late mother, Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is drawn into another world of four magical Realms. While in the lands of Flowers, Snowflakes and Sweets, she meets Nutcracker soldier Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight) and the Realms' rulers: Hawthorne (Eugenio Derbez), Shiver (Richard E. Grant) and Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley). To reclaim the key, Clara and Phillip must enter the dark Fourth Realm and face the tyrannical Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) and a gang of mice. The fate of the kingdoms is in their hands.

This Disney cinematic gift will put most family members in a festive spirit. But there's more
here for children than adults. Colorful characters and situations fill the screen with only a couple of scary moments for the little ones. A ballet, featuring Misty Copeland, tells the story of the Four Realms, but slows down the pace in the middle of the film. The kids will be bored until the action picks up. The ballerina is also featured over the closing credits. Both segments begin with silhouettes of a conductor and orchestra - shades of "Fantasia". James Newton Howard cleverly weaves Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker throughout his score. Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston are the co-directors of this slightly over 90 minutes extravaganza. Johnston helmed the reshoots, but they agreed on joint credit. Mackenzie Foy's strong performance leads a stellar cast. Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren chew up much of the scenery. Matthew Macfadyen and Morgan Freeman have small pivotal roles as Clara's father and godfather. This tale has bits of Oz, Wonderland and other classics, but E.T.A. Hoffmann's 1816 short story may have been first. "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms" is a sweet spectacle. (3/5 CAMS)

Rated PG (some mild peril)
Running Time: 99 minutes

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