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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - November, 2011

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"The Nutcracker: The Untold Story" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movie-november-2011-nutcracker

Synopsis

Experience the classic holiday tale of the Nutcracker brought to life like you have never seen it before. Join Mary on a magical adventure when her toy nutcracker comes to life and whisks her away to a magical kingdom filled with fantastical toys, sugar plums and dancing fairies. Mary soon discovers the evil Rat King is threatening the kingdom and in order to save the Nutcracker, Mary must uncover a hidden secret to free the prince and restore his kingdom. Based on the story that inspired Russian composer Tchaikovsky to create the music for the iconic ballet, the film includes eight new exciting songs written by Oscar®-winning lyricist Tim Rice (The Lion King, Evita).

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 2011, Color, Rated PG, 110 mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane, John Turturro
  • Directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

As a lover of Tchaikovsky’s music, I was disappointed in this movie which is “loosely” based on the actual story most of us have grown up with. Yes, Tchaikovsky’s music is sprinkled in here and there (and some of it isn’t even from his Nutcracker suite) but what really fails is the attempt to add words and make the music “singable”. Add some mix of rats with jet-packs, motorcycles with Gatling guns and you have…well, this. Usually I also like the music of Tim Rice, but there isn't a single memorable tune from this film. Since the Nutcracker story is so much a part of Christmas, why did it have to be re-invented into an action flick with flying machines and explosions? Maybe I am missing the point, that this movie is catering to kids in the 8-10 year old bracket. Perhaps I am just being an old fart, but maybe this story should have remained untold. Bah Humbug!

Technical

Most of the movie looks good except for some of the darker scenes. What should be jet black looks dark grey. The actors look fuzzy, with grain becoming almost fog-like in the darkly lit scenes. Details otherwise look fine. The CGI works well for the most part, but it fails to set the standard set by most other films that are out in theaters now. Colors are solid and often vivid throughout. The music and sound effects are well done…except when the characters attempt to sing the music from the ballet. Surrounds and sub join the fun during the action scenes.

Extras

The making of The Nutcracker: The Untold Story.