‘The Nutcracker’ messes up a classic (IANS Movie Review)

February 19th, 2011 - 3:41 pm ICT by IANS  

By Satyen K. Bordoloi
Film: “The Nutcracker”; Director: Andrey Konchalovskiy; Cast: Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane, John Turturro, Frances de la Tour, Richard E. Grant, Charlie Rowe: Rating: **One must have a very good reason to touch a classic. And that reason has to include either enhancing it with a unique representation or of reinterpreting or recontextualizing it. Instead, if you take away something good or great from it, it is a sin against the original. “The Nutcraker” in 3D is guilty of just that.

It’s Christmas eve and little Mary (Elle Fanning), who’s bothered by her bratty brother, is thrilled when her uncle Albert (Nathan Lane) arrives with a wooden nutcracker doll as gift. Late in the night, her imagination brings the doll to life who calls himself NC (Charlie Rowe). He takes her on a journey where toys become human and where an army of toothy rats, led by the Rat King (John Turturro), aim to overthrow humanity. After NC is taken captive, it is up to Mary and a band of toys to fight the Rat King and his army and save humanity.

Besides messing up with a classic, there are many things wrong with this 3D version. The first is that it focuses more on the effects than the story and its essence itself. The writing is so loose that it fritters away, despite excellent make up and special effects.

The problem perhaps is director Andrey Konchalovskiy’s notion of bringing the story up to date and enhance it with 3D effects. While the film achieves the 3D extravaganza with some mesmerizing effects, the story and the film ends up looking like a very bad mash-up of Narnia and Wizard of Oz. And that is a shame considering the fine performances by the actors.

Add to it the fact that it fails to even engage the audience in the simple and cliched way and you’ll understand why this will completely rile those who have either seen the original in its different forms over the century or read the masterpiece.

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