When her father unexpectedly dies, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her scheming stepsisters. Never one to give up hope, Ella's fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.
All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key, a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer's (Morgan Freeman's) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It's there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice, and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers, and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Dame Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara's key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.
Mackenzie Foy tries her hardest here, and I enjoyed the one scene with Misty Copeland on stage. However, dialogue and story is beyond muddled. Internal logic makes no sense. Another fairy tale is now an edgy political commentary and an "epic war". World feels confined and claustrophobic. A bunch of tired Disney cliches surface here, like moping about dead mothers and Chosen One Princess. They even have a twist villain, because that's so beloved.
It's cynical and unpleasant. Too dull and scary for kids, too dumb for adults. If you're looking for the Nutcracker you won't find it here. Just go to the actual ballet, or watch the first Narnia movie
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