All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is the key that will unlock a precious egg holding a priceless gift. Clara will soon find out that the gift has a manifold meaning. A supernatural golden thread, presented to her at her beloved godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, Clara to another realm. There, time shifts and many lessons are learned.

It’s in the other realm that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice, and the regents who preside over three realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers, and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must overcome many obstacles in the Fourth Realm, home to Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren). They must recover Clara’s key and return the hope, harmony, and peace to the unstable world in the Realms. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Disney’s holiday feature film The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston. The film is inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale. 

A Multifaceted Holiday Message

There are many powerful and inspirational messages in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms such as learning to trust yourself, not being afraid to pursue what it is that you desire alone, embracing the unknown, and letting go of the pain of the past. Clara comes to learn that the very thing that she was pursuing — the key — is not her driving force. Instead, it’s a conduit for propelling her towards her mission in life.

Though she had the unyielding support of the loyal Nutcracker, there were times during her journey that Clara knew she had to cross certain paths alone — and she did. Unbeknownst to her, Clara’s deceased mother’s final gift sends her on a path of self-discovery and a great awakening. Clara bravely embraces the challenge, and in doing so, she enters into new realms of thought, creativity, and discovery.

The Realms are…Fantastic!

In the Realms, time is different, paradigms of thought are unique and living in a world full of color is the norm. Mice communicate with humans, owls subliminally send messages, and gorgeous ballerinas appear out of nowhere. Misty Copeland as the Ballerina Princess is a showstopper. From her elegant dance moves to her lithe body coated with lace, she appears as if from another dimension. As the Ballerina Princess, Copeland personifies the epitome of grace. Her dancing as the Ballerina Princess further adds an ethereal quality to the movie.

 

The Magical Costuming of People and Places in the Realms

The set design of Lisa Chugg and the costume design of Jenny Beaven in this movie are absolutely beautiful. The attention to detail and the deliberate use of color and décor are so exquisitely executed that the imagery is otherworldly. The costumes, scenery, and props are fantastic and invoke whimsy, fantasy, a child-like excitement and so much more in the soft, pastel shades of lavender, the rich, velvety shades of reddish-maroon and royal blue. No detail in the costume and set design is left unfinished.

 

At the beginning of the movie, Clara is clothed in the most delicate-looking lavender dress, and it is absolutely stunning to behold. The beautiful dark brown skin of the Nutcracker was accentuated with gold-highlighted lips. The rich red, gold and blue soldier’s uniform was the perfect juxtaposition to his complexion. Both Foy and Fowora-Knight were the personification of youth, wonder, and discovery wrapped in the flesh. The Sugarplum Fairy was so lovely to look at. With soft, fluffy lavender and light pink hair and beautiful purple flowing gowns, she was a walking art exhibit. The costumes and set design in this movie may have outshined the actual storyline.

A Talented and Whimsical Cast

Newcomer Jayden Fowora-Knight subtly commands every scene that he occupies. Fowora-Knight is definitely one to watch. He’s obviously very handsome, but he also has a natural grace and ease on camera that makes it hard to take your eyes off of him. The vulnerability he displays in his scenes and his on-screen chemistry with Foy is a delight to witness. However, the idea of this strong, brave Nutcracker being at the disposal of this wealthy, young woman is a thin line that needs to be gently walked across.

Keira Knightley as the Sugarplum Fairy is a marvel. She completely inhabits her role as the Sugarplum Fairy. Helen Mirren as Mother Ginger is outstanding, though she could have used more screen time. In her scenes with Foy and Fowora-Knight, she brings an intensity and chemistry that elevates everything around her.  MacKenzie Foy as Clara is the perfect match. As Clara, Foy’s natural curiosity for life is evident. She brings a fresh, innocence to the role in such a manner that you immediately become aware that her portrayal of this character was meant for her.

Whether you believe in fairytales and otherworldly places or not, The Nutcracker and the Fours Realms showcases many ideas that could be an inspiration for any child or willing adult. Clara’s mother was a master creator and inventor, gifts that she passes on to Clara. Clara like her mother is good at putting things together, solving problems, and creating things. There is a beauty in witnessing her use those talents to dig deep within herself to discover who she really is.

There are also many moments within this movie that will encourage young girls and women to be brave. There’s a moment in particular when Clara declares, while in the dangerous 4th realm, “I am here to reclaim what you’ve taken from me and my mother.” She had settled in her heart that if she went the depths alone, that she would at all costs. It was refreshing to see that civility was restored back to the land based on the actions of a brave young woman.

Starring:  Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Matthew Macfadyen, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Misty Copeland, and Morgan Freeman

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms premieres nationwide on November 2, 2018. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is directed by Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston and is written by Ashleigh Powell, Marius Petipa, and E.T.A Hoffman. This movie is rated PG for some mild peril.