Adventure Blu-ray Review

‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ 4K Review: Fantastic but Forgettable

January 28, 2019Ben MK

A teenage girl from 18th century London is transported to a fantastical, faraway world in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. But when an evil threatens the land, it's up to her to save this kingdom divided from destruction.

Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is, for better or for worse, a film cut from a similar cloth as Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass. For while the movie may owe a debt to such classics as the Nutcracker Ballet and E.T.A. Hoffmann's short story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, it is very much its own thing, largely trading the balletic poetry many viewers might associate the title with for a much more visually eye-popping experience, where arabesques and grand jetés take a backseat to over-the-top costumes and CG environments.

That said, the result is not without its moments, even though those moments are almost always counterbalanced by bouts of questionable creative decision-making. With highlights that include Mackenzie Foy's performance as the lead character, who grows more headstrong as the film progresses, and lowlights that include Keira Knightley's turn as a cotton-candy-colored fairy with a high-pitched voice, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms will appeal mostly to younger audiences, leaving more mature viewers out in the cold.

Given The Nutcracker and the Four Realms' elaborately lavish production design and visual effects, one would expect the movie's transition to 4K to be nothing short of spectacular. Thankfully, the result does not disappoint, dancing onto the format with a flawless and colorful 2160p transfer, bringing the film's visuals to life with astounding clarity, and bolstered by a Dolby Atmos sound mix that fills the room with the sounds of squeaking mice, the gears of a giant clock, and the metallic stomping of human-sized toy soldiers.

Disney's two-disc release includes an iTunes digital copy and a Blu-ray copy of the film. There are no special features on the 4K disc, but the following extras can be found on the Blu-ray:

  • On Pointe: A Conversation with Misty Copeland (4:36) - Ballerina Misty Copeland discusses her small role, the similarities between dancing and acting, and working with fellow dancer Sergei Polunin.
  • Unwrapping The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (7:08) - A look at the production and costume design.
  • Deleted Scenes (4:05) - Five scenes ("The Stahlbaums Arrive," "Follow Your Ribbon," "Clara Asks About Her Mother," "Left, Left, Left, Left, Left" and "Out with the Old").
  • "Fall on Me" Performed by Andrea Bocelli featuring Matthew Bocelli (4:23)
  • "The Nutcracker Suite" Performed by Lang Lang (4:06)

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is available from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment as of January 29th, 2019. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 hr. 39 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on November 1st, 2018.

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