Saturday, December 17, 2011
The Nutcracker in 3D/The Untold Story
So, what could it be that made this movie flop? Could it be the inept acting from the child actors? The wretched songs lifted from Tchaikovsky's score for the ballet? Maybe Nathan Lane's character repeatedly breaking the fourth wall? What about the plot?
Mary escapes into the place where they bulldoze all the toys before they are thrown into a furnace. She finds the Clockwork Dolls and a broken and lifeless NC. While the Dolls distract the guards (with a terrible song set to the March theme), Mary saves NC from the conveyor belt that would have taken him to the fire. She manages to revive him with a tear (yay, another fantasy cliche), which also restores him to his Prince form permanently. This causes a revolt in the slave workers, who quickly beat up the rats.
The Rat Queen suggests flight this time and thinks her son is abandoning her when Max offers to fly the flying machine for her. Which he can't do. The Rat King takes Mary to the flying machine and attempts to knock the Prince off a building, but it results in him and one of the Clockwork dolls getting onboard the machine as well. While these two help overpower the Rat King, Max crashes the flying machine, which he didn't want to do.
Seeing they are defeated, the Rat Queen and King turn into regular rats (they were humans with ratlike faces) and escape into the sewers. While the people rejoice, Mary is told she must go back home by the Snow Fairy. The Prince promises her she'll see him soon.
When she awakes in her own bed, Mary is told she has a visitor. Uncle Albert introduces him as his new neighbor, Nicholas Charles. The two go ice skating together.
The problem with this Nutcracker is that it tries to be a fantasy action movie being way too gloomy and sometimes scary for children to enjoy. Okay, I take back "scary." A kid might get shocked at the Rat King suddenly having a wide mouth and fangs or one of the Clockwork doll's heads removed and tossed around, but that's about it. Really, the plot makes no sense. A bunch of Nazi-looking rat people who are never seen physically hurting any regular people try to take over the human world? I suppose this dream world has never heard of poison. So, that's it. It's too somber for children, too silly for adults.
As an adaptation of the Nutcracker story, it fails. The trailer credits only Tchaikovsky as the creator of the Nutcracker story, a very inaccurate statement indeed. He wrote the music for the ballet, not the libretto or the choreography. No other credit to the creator of the original work was seen in the credits of the film. So, not only does this film only have the barest, slightest resemblance to Hoffman's original story, it doesn't even acknowledge him. As a result, I almost wish I could have excluded it from my reviews. However, it would be a wasted effort after trying to hunt it down for almost a year.
"Based on the story by Tchaikovsky" my foot. Hoffman wrote the original book, Dumas rewrote it in French, Marius Pepita adapted Dumas for the story for the ballet, and had Tchaikovsky write the music. Crediting Tchaikovsky for the Nutcracker story is like saying Judy Garland is responsible for The Wizard of Oz.
It's really a shame because $90 million could really have done Hoffman's story justice. Unfortunately, the creative talent (both words used loosely) behind this film didn't even know who he was.