The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

I saw a trailer for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, I was astounded by the screen in front of me.

I honestly didn’t know this was a movie coming out, and my first impression was, “…is this another goddamn Alice in Wonderland movie sneaking its way out?”

I have an easily hate relationship with those two movies. Alice in Wonderland was telling a story so awkward, because it decided to be a secret sequel, and Through the Looking Glass is just legit one of the worst films I have ever seen.

This film just seemed to be equally CGI heavy, with a British slant, and some sort of fantasy uncomfortable world.

But why a CGI fantasy movie about the nutcracker? Was there clammoring for a nutcracker based movie? I mean, it seems to only be loosely based on the play/ballet as well. It certainly is not going to be a ballet showcase. So, a serious non dancing version of a famous dance? Like…Why.

That would be like taking a Tony award winning musical and turning it into a not really musical movie. A very poor decision.

Speaking of poor decisions…the agents of these famous people!

This yarn is about a girl named Clara (Mackenzie Foy) who is really smart and charming in her own way. The kind of girl that boys will chase later in life when she is successful, not when boys are stupid and in school. Her mom died in the last year, and that made things really sad. She has an older sister (Ellie Bamber), a younger brother (Tom Sweet), and a dad (Matthew Macfadyen) who is trying to keep things normal by avoiding the issue almost completely.

So they are taken to a big Christmas Eve ball party for their British aristocratic friends and neighbors. Clara had received an early present before the ball of an egg with a lock, but no key. Her mom had left it for her before she died. Clara is more focused on the key than silly dances.

And sure enough, thanks to the plot, at some point Clara wanders into a different wintry world. No, this is not a world with lions and witches and wardrobes. This one has nutcrackers, mice that seem extremely intelligent, toy soldiers, and sugar plum fairies (Keira Knightley). A world of four lands that have come together to be swell together, or something. A land that her mom used to be the queen of and now it is her time to lead! Once she gets the key and fixes a few issues of course.

Also starring Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and also Jayden Fowora-Knight as a major role, his second role after Boy Playing Tennis in Ready Player One.

“Go my rat minions! Go and steal the cheese!”

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms…first, the title is terrible. Honestly, why did they not just call it The Nutcracker? That is good, iconic enough, and can get those ballet people in. This title is too hard. THE nutcracker and THE four realms. The first THE could be cut out and it works better. But they wanted the play title too badly. And the second half? The four realms? That does nothing for anyone.

Alright, this is a movie about the nutcracker and four kingdoms. Will we have very location specific places? Different worlds? One of candy, one flowers, one of ice? Yeah, probably. But guess what. Most of the film that takes place in our magical land, takes place just at a castle and one of the realms that is now forsaken.

I have no clue if the “castle” is actually one of the realms or not. Because we don’t do a damn thing with the other 2-3 realms. Why the fuck is the title and advertising focusing on four realms, when we don’t even get to play in four realms? What are they setting up? What is the point?

And the point is nothing. There seems to be very little point in this movie. I guess it is about a young girl who has to use her daring and smarts to save the day. Save the day of a fantasy kingdom that has relatively low stakes. And that effects her regular life about zero. Where no one is close to dying, and everything just feels…flighty.

Speaking of flighty, the only strong connection to the Nutcracker ballet (besides aspects of the story) is the soundtrack, which features music from the nutracker. Some of it is obvious, a lot you may not notice, but they did not fit the story that great. If the music takes out of the story, then it might not be doing its job.

Near the end, a scene with a giant robot fighting toy soldiers (sigh, yes) spliced with other action shenanigans ends up feeling dead. It felt like an unfinished movie. There was no sense of dread or suspense, and it just didn’t feel like it matched what was supposed to be an intense scene.

And you know what? To top it all off? There was a small dance scene to music, where the characters involved were dancing a waltz. But the music was not a waltz song. Come on guys. You’re not even trying.

This film is forgettable, regrettable, and probably something that Disney is really going to bury in the future. I expect no sequels, no great toy tie ins, and just a lot of disappointment from everyone involved.

0 out of 4.

Anna Karenina

If you have never heard of Anna Karenina, then you might have your finger far from the pulse of the Russian Literature community. So you might be like me.

“But this is Tolstoy!” all two of you yell in anguish. Yeah, well, he is dead now, so how great can he have been?

This is not the first time a movie has been made from the book, no, it is the thirteenth time. Of the previous 12, I of course have seen zero of them, so this Joe Wright adaption shall be my first.

Taken abak
I think this is a literal example of a crowd being taken aback by something amazing.

There is a lot of plot going on in Anna Karenina. Maybe even too much. I am even surprise they can fit so much story in these movies. I have the basic gist of the story, but I cannot fill in a lot of the details on my own.

Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) is a Russian aristocrat and in the spot light, married to Karenin (Jude Law). It is an okay life, she is rich and all, the sister of an eccentric Prince Stiva (Matthew Macfadyen) who is married to princess Dolly (Kelly Macdonald).

But something is missing. Passion is missing.

Passion is what she feels when she meets the Count Vronsky (Aaron Johnson), and then embarks on an affair, that will lead to divorce, hearsay, gossip, sexytimes, and a life filled with love. But with love, comes great sorrow.

Many other characters and players in this, but going over all their plots would literally kill me. But hey, Domhnall Gleeson is in this movie, so is Olivia Williams.

That woman in the top right is shunning SO HARD right now.

Here is a fact that I realized watching this movie, that is both unfortunate and wonderful. I don’t think someone watching this would consider it a straight adaption of the story and novel. Sure the setting is there, the character and plots are the same, but there is more than that going on in the movie from the visuals. It is not that I began to question if scenes were actually happening, but just they way they were presented were strange. Almost a giant metaphor, I think that they were trying to say that when you are an aristocrat, you must always put on a performance/show or else you might lose your prestige.

Alright, did that paragraph confuse you? I am sorry. It is just hard to describe.

But I think a problem with this movie is that I didn’t know the story or its many sub plotlines, and I quickly got lost in the flashy colors and grand scenes. I am not sure of half the things that happened, because the filmmakers probably assumed I knew about it. After all, wickedly famous novel, many movie adaptations? Well I am sorry, but I couldn’t get it to work.

The acting however was very well done, and I would say I loved the costumes and cinematography. The final message sucks and reminds me a bit of Gone With The Wind but I guess that is life. I just wish it was a bit easier to follow.

2 out of 4.

Robin Hood

It has taken a long time for me to see the newest Robin Hood movie, and honestly, I blame the internet. When I first saw a preview, looked awesome. Ridley Scott, on average, is an awesome director. What could go wrong? Apparently everything.

I heard tales that it wasn’t anything like Robin Hood. But that is probably a good thing. We’ve all heard the tale enough to know what happens, if it was the same, it might be boring! But because of that dang internet, I also know the truth of the script. You know what it was called originally? Nottingham. Why? Because it was going to be from his point of view, in a more sympathetic light. Yes! I love switches like that!

Some jerk Outlaw named Robin messing up shit, stealing his Marion and all? Why not?!

But Scott didn’t like that angle. So it was changed. To a more traditional, yet oh so familiar Robin Hood tale. Damn it, this is why we can’t have nice things.

Well, that is a reason. The other main reason is war.

AHH CRUSADES AND STUFF. Robin (Russell Crowe) is over there fighting, because that is all he does, around the world. Just a simple archer. But then something bad happens. He speaks his mind, King Richard (Danny Huston) gets pissed off, and he gets a bit imprisoned. Oh well, thankfully he can get himself free once King Richard gets killed. Wait what?! Richard gets killed early in the movie during the Crusades? Well fuck!

So Robin decides to book it, when he sees a group of men kill the man in charge of bringing the King’s crown back to England. They wanted to kill the king, but he was already dead. The new dead guy? Robin of Locksley. Wait what? Yes, Crowe is a different Robin. But now dying Robin has a request, to return his sword to his dad’s estate for him. Not weird at all. They just have to pretend to be knights and he pretends to be the other Robin to make it less weird.

Too bad the French people were lead by Godfrey (Mark Strong), another English Knight working for the other side? It can’t be true! Well it is, mostly because Prince John (Oscar Isaac) is a little bitch and ordered it.

Either way, Robin delivers the sword to the dad (Max von Sydow) and is met with an unusual request. Pretend to be the other Robin, live in the home, and marry Marion (Cate Blanchett). Or else they might lose all the land to the government when he goes, because a woman can’t hold the deed. Huh, alright then.

But don’t worry, if you are afraid of too much change, you still have some marry men to look forward too. Little John (Kevin Durand), Friar Tuck (Mark Addy), and Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes). The Sheriff of Nottingham (Matthew Macfadyen) is in here too, just not really that important.

Invading French army, working with the traitor king, and maybe some Sherwood forest bandits if we are lucky.

Water sword
Personally, I think this picture looks like he is attacking with a water scimitar.

Totaling at about 2.5 hours, the Director’s Cut is a monster of a movie. I could be getting trolled, since clearly the Theatrical Cut was basically a DC too with the amount of cutting from the original script Scott did. I am not bitter, I swear.

Actually, the acting in this film felt pretty good, as did the pacing. For me, the 2.5 hours went by without a hitch. There were slow parts sure, and they didn’t do enough that I wanted, but it was kind of enjoyable on its own.

But I feel like something was missing from it to give it that extra wow factor. Really, I think it was just okay, which is probably what pissed off the internet more. They kind of demand perfection, especially from Scott and Crowe. It is an interesting Robin Hood story, that allows for even more tales, but definitely not the best one.

2 out of 4.

The Three Musketeers

What story is more cherished than The Three Musketeers?

Apparently a lot of them. You know how hard it was for me to find someone who knew the actual plot of The Three Musketeers book? I had never read it, nor have I really seen another movie with them in it. Maybe a wishbone episode, but I don’t remember it. I know I am not comparing the book to this new movie, but while watching it, I knew pretty certainly that some of the events in the movie could not have possibly been in the book.

After all, if they had been, that book might be a lot cooler.

Airship battles
This scene was one of the few that made me question if this was the actual story or not.

The story begins with the Three Musketeers trying to unlock Leonardo da Vinci’s secret tomb, where his most awesome invention blueprints were stored. Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Aramis (Luke Evans) and Porthos (Ray Stevenson) are all introduced (even with frozen framed name cards!), as is Milady de Winter (Milla Jovovich). Each are shown their general personality, and how they prefer to conduct business and fight.

But after acquiring the plans for the warship…betrayal! In the form of the Duke of Buckingham (Orlando Bloom). The Musketeer program is disbanded at that point. A year later, D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman, aka the Percy Jackson) is training with his father, a former musketeer. He dreams of going to Paris and becoming one himself, and so, you know, does that.

In Paris, he starts off on the wrong foot, pissing off Rochefort (Mads Mikkelsen), captain of the Cardinal Richelieu’s (Christoph Waltz) guard. Despite barely escaping, while running through Paris, he also encounters each of the Musketeers, offends them too, and offers them each a duel an hour apart. Then he is like, oh shit, Musketeers.

They get arrested for illegal dueling, but because they took out 40 men in the process, the king (Freddie Fox) reinstates the Musketeers. Just in time. Because the Duke wants to go to war with France. So he arranges that love notes be found in the queen’s (Juno Temple) desk, that say she was having an affair with the duke, and had given him certain rare diamonds (which he has hence stolen). The king will be forced to execute his wife, and go to war, but because he is so young, the public wont like it, and reinstate someone else instead.

Unless the Musketeers can fix the day! Also there is a hot lady in waiting Constance (Gabriella Wilde) who totally wants D’Artagnan.

Awk group
Lerman (center) looks like his head is out of place each scene with that hair.

How’d you like that summary? If you actually read the book, you’d notice obvious differences. I think Milady plays a way more important role in this movie, than the books. I think also the affair is real in the books (maybe here too? Could be argued). Also, warships.

This movie is also VERY colorful. The colors pop out, at first kind of distracted me (in the first throne room scene), but I got used to it and overall liked it.

Also, this movie reminded me of TONS of other movies. The movie did had an overall epic feel, similar to Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl, and not just because of Orlando Bloom. If anything this movie succeeds because of everyone else. There was also a scene that was a clear homage to Mission Impossible. But instead of lasers, I assume just had to see trip wires that would ring bells, or something.

Did I mention warships?

If I had a big complaint, I would say they didn’t flesh out the three musketeers personality wise enough. They do a bit at the beginning, and some other moments, but this is clearly an action driven movie. I will say that all the musketeers, in my eyes, did a fantastic job, and the kid. Seriously, they all kicked some ass. I liked the steampunk like warships involved, and found it odd that I was so captivated by a movie that did so bad in the box office.


3 out of 4.

Death At A Funeral(s)

Plural? Yes.

I watched Death at a Funeral (British version) the other day, and I realized I wanted to see Death at a Funeral (American version) as well. Obviously the British one came first, but I figured they’d be different enough with the same general plot to do two reviews, but no. They pretty much are the same. Some different jokes, but all the same stuff happens. SO ONE SUPER REVIEW (that counts as two, damn it). Also probably my record for most tags. Two ensemble movies in one. Hooray!

Naked Alan Tudyk
And why not start it off with a naked Alan Tudyk on a roof?

So in both movies, the patriarch of the family dies. The main guy (Chris Rock, Matthew Macfadyen) lived with his folks and is an inspiring writer, which is bad because his slightly younger brother (Martin Lawrence, Rupert Graves) already has made a best seller. Jealousy!

We also have their cousin (Zoe Saldana, Daisy Donovan) is bringing her new fiance to the funeral, hoping her own dad will approve of him. This makes the fiance (Alan Tudyk, James Marsden) nervous, and he takes some Vallium to calm down. But it really isn’t Vallium. Her ex is also there (and trying to win her back…Luke Wilson, Ewen Bremner), now a friend of the family, along with another friend of the family (Tracy Morgan, Andy Nyman) who has the unfortunate job of looking out for the wheel chaired uncle (Danny Glover, Peter Vaughan).

Got all that? Too bad. A few problems go wrong, delaying the actual ceremony, which is perfect for the real main plotline. The midget who no one knows turns out to be the secret gay lover of their dad (Peter Dinklage, Peter Dinklage) with picture proof, and threatens to show everyone unless he gets a nice sum since he was left off of the will. Yes blackmail, and midgets.

I am sure I tagged some people and didn’t mention them. Honestly I lost track. Here is Loretta Devine, who you would have guessed was in the American version without looking it up probably.

Naked White Guys
Somehow, both of these actors naked on a roof was the easiest “same scene” from both movies to find.

So, these movies both feature large ensemble casts, with a few different plot lines so that they can all build up and get crazy by the end of the movie.

But which is better? I have heard from multiple sources that they think the British version is WAY better than the American. They also said this before watching the American though. After watching both though I find that…well they are both okay. I didn’t find one vastly superior to the other. Honestly, I probably would have been fine with either of them if only one of them had to exist!

So watch whatever version you choose, knowing full well that if you choose the British one for any other reason than it being the original, then you are probably a racist.

2 out of 4. (British)
2 out of 4. (American)