(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. "Waltz of the Flowers" by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky plays throughout)
Doug (vo): Merry Christmas! Let's talk about another Disney Christmas property today. (The film's title is shown) Ooh! That's...that's unfortunate. Truth be told, that is the perfect word to use to describe this movie, because in many respects, I do kind of feel bad for it. This is one of the few movies I can definitely say is a bad film, but if you want me to tell the truth, it doesn't have that many bad things in it. But how is that possible? I mean, the acting is good, the music is good, the dancing is good, the story's a warped, but still basic telling of the Nutcracker story, which was already a very simple story, and let's face it, we've seen weirder adaptations. (An image of NC's review of Nutcracker 3D is shown) The visual style? Good Lord! I don't think I've ever seen a movie try so hard to throw so many things at you. The way it's shot, the size of the sets, the colors, the movement, all the crazy-ass designs. So, what exactly doesn't work about this movie? Well, you may figure it out when I tell you the story.
Doug (vo): Clara is a young inventor who lives with her family, minus her mother, because, of course, she'd be dead. It looks like she left some gifts for everybody, though, and she leaves a little metal egg for Clara that doesn't open up, unless you have a certain key. Well, they go and visit her inventor uncle, played by Morgan Freeman, who thinks he might have the answers she's looking for if she just walks down this hallway. The hallway, of course, leads to a magical land that's very Narnia-esque at first, and then Alice in Wonderland-esque later, and then Terry Gilliam, Burton, pretty much a lot of stuff you've seen before. And it turns out her mother was a queen of this land, making her a princess, and only she is the metaphorical/literal key that can get this device going that can stop an incredible evil.
Doug (vo): So, tell me this. Did anything about what I just said sound interesting or new? Everything in terms of dialogue, story, characters, we've seen done a million times. But here's the thing. It's not done bad, per se, here. I mean, I've seen this story so many times, and people say these lines so terribly and awkward and weird, and they don't really do that here. Truth be told, there's very few moments I can point to where I can say, "That's bad, that's terrible, that is just laughably horrendous." Throughout a good chunk, I was getting through it fine, but that's the key phrase, "getting through it". Everything about this story sort of feels like a bunch of people got together and said, "Well, these Disney remakes are doing well, maybe we can do some sort of variation."
(A scene focusing on Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy watching a show that explains a history of the Four Realms, involving a silhouetted orchestra and ballet dancing, is briefly shown, before resuming showing various clips)
Doug (vo): "Uh, we have Fantasia and The Nutcracker. We'll do kind of a nod here with a scene where there's, like, conducting and a ballet dancer, and...we'll never go back to that again. Just go ahead and do the stuff we normally do, you know, somebody that lost a mother and has to go on a journey, and princesses, fairy tales, a moral about trusting yourself, you know the drill." And, yeah, we do know the drill, so well that unless you add something really different or really provocative, it's just not gonna intrigue us anymore.
(Several footage focusing on the film's visual style is shown, before resuming showing various clips)
Doug (vo): That being said, I can't act like a ton of effort didn't go into this. I mean, look at it. Just look at this world, or should I say these worlds. There's, like, different costumes, different creatures and characters. But it's also kind of overload, because they're trying so many different styles that they all don't quite go together, and it's just a little too cluttered. If there were really interesting characters with an interesting story and interesting dialogue, then this would all probably work out fine, and I wouldn't notice it as much. But because every line and every moment feels so stock, it does feel kind of manipulative. The directors of this movie were Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, two directors that have made constantly good films. Captain America is good, Chocolat is good, The Rocketeer is good. These are good movies, I'm not gonna say they're bad. But with a few exceptions, none of them are really groundbreaking. You don't really hear people talking that much about them years later. Want proof? What's your favorite Captain America movie? Probably not 1. But if you're like most people, you like it fine. This is almost a similar film. It's fine. I could see kids going in, watching it and leaving, and that's that. They probably won't think that much about it, but, you know, they'll sit down, watch it. Does that mean it deserves a lot of hate? I personally don't think so. You can tell there was a passion to make this movie as good as it was, they just didn't really know how to do it. Everyone's giving a million percent, but it was unlikely there was one person who this was their passion project. It feels like it was an idea that was passed down from Disney executives and given a lot of notes. Had it done something like it kind of was advertising, like maybe making it sort of a half-ballet, half-dialogue, half-mime...I don't know, playing around with the formula a little bit, it might've been really interesting.
Doug (vo): As is, though, it's incredibly standard. Not awful, just standard. I'm not gonna lie, though. I could see some kids watching this at a young age and maybe going back to it years later and having some fond memories of it, because, yeah, look at it. Those really are some cool visuals, and the acting's fine, and it's a very basic story, but so is the original Nutcracker. But it's unlikely anyone's gonna look back and be like, "Wow. This was the lost masterpiece, this really did stuff different, this really had a dark edge or gave a point of view that nobody ever thought about before." It's just modern Disney doing modern Disney. And like I said, that's not horrible, just tired. But who knows? Maybe I'm looking at another Christmas classic. I mean, you can never tell with some flicks. Whatever comes with this Christmas film, I certainly hope you have a fantastic Christmas, find a movie or special you always enjoy, and have yourself the merriest of holidays. (A shot of a giant robot version of Mother Ginger is shown) Just avoid giant Helen Mirren robots. Yeah, that was a thing.
(The scene showing the ballet dancer concluding her stage performance is shown)