When I first read there was a movie version of “The Nutcracker” being made in 3D, my initial response was to snipe, like the frustrated theater geek I am, “If you want to see ‘The Nutcracker’ in 3D, why don’t you see it how it’s meant to be seen: At the ballet, you cultureless philistines.” Then I took a step back and had to admit that yes, ballet isn’t for everyone, not to mention it’s expensive to attend, so maybe making a movie version would be a good way to introduce the younger generation to the beautiful story and music of “The Nutcracker.” Then I saw the trailer and got pissed off all over again.
It looks like “The Nutcracker” on steroids. Or “The Nutcracker” for Dummies. Or “The Nutcracker” directed by Michael Bay. Ever ounce of subtlety and nuance have been sucked out of it and what’s left if an overblown CGI-filled mess that’s a jumbled chaos of action-packed sequences that attempts to do little else than keep a crowd of short attention span-addled people distracted for a couple of hours.
The basic premise of the movie seems to be loosely the same as the ballet: A melancholy young girl is given a nutcracker as a Christmas gift who reveals himself to be a prince under a spell. His kingdom has been taken over by the evil Rat King, and he needs her help to lift the spell and battle the Rat King for what is rightfully his. She agrees and ludicrously high-octane adventure ensues, and the story takes a turn for the absurd.
The most alarming thing about this mess of a trailer is the dearth of Tchaikovsky’s music. “The Nutcracker” is all about the score—even if you think you know nothing about the ballet, I guarantee you would recognize at least one of the tunes when you heard it—so the fact that the trailer uses stock “lighthearted adventure movie” music is upsetting. Then there are the shots of structures crashing up from underground and fiery explosions that make me wonder if Optimus Prime makes a cameo appearance. And then the nutcracker is referred to as NC (edgy!) and I die a little inside.
Starring Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane, and John Turturro, “The Nutcracker in 3D” will massacre the visions of sugar plums dancing in your head this week in wide release. It currently is playing in limited locations.
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