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THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D (2010) review

November 24, 2010

 

written by: Andrei Konchalovskiy
produced by: Andrei Konchalovskiy and Paul Lowin
directed by: Andrei Konchalovskiy
rated PG (for thematic material, scary images, action and brief smoking)
runtime: 110 min.
U.S. Release Date: November 24, 2010 (limited)
In writer-director Andrei Konchalovskiy’s The Nutcracker in 3D, Konchalovskiy takes a classic holiday story and makes it… weird.  Originally a two-act ballet scored by the world-famous composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the new three-dimensional iteration is a CGI-heavy futuristic odd-world that loosely grabs the traditional story and makes a poor attempt at modernization (the Nutcracker calls himself “NC”).  This film will be a true litmus test for film-going audiences to see if a title alone will pull them into the theater, or if they’ll wise up and be able to sniff out the off-putting “NC” smell before shelling out ten-plus dollars for a ticket.

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Set in 1920s Vienna, the film centers on a nine-year old girl named Mary (Elle Fanning… yes, Dakota’s sister).  Mary’s home life isn’t too much to get excited about, as her annoying brother Max (Aaron Michael Drozin) and her neglecting parents have her searching for camaraderie.  She gets just what she is looking for on Christmas Eve when her Uncle Albert (Nathan Lane) arrives with a gift for young Mary, a snazzy wooden nutcracker doll.  Later that night, as Mary falls asleep with her new present, the doll suddenly comes to life and speaks to her.  Calling himself “NC”, the wooden doll takes Mary on a trip to a new universe where animated toys are everywhere and make up a civilization of their own.

Though everything seems delightful in this new toy-filled world, a dangerous horde of rat-like creatures lurks around the city, banding together in hopes to overthrow the toys and their way of life.  Led by the Rat King (John Turturro), the rat creatures kidnap “NC” and hold him hostage, as he is placed under a spell.  In order to get back their wooden friend and get rid of the rat army once and for all, Mary, her brother Max, and their little toy friends must come together and defeat the Rat King before it is too late.

 

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Where do I begin?  Drastically missing the mark in pretty much every aspect of filmmaking possible, The Nutcracker in 3D is a true fiasco.  To quote the Cameron Crowe film Elizabethtown, “As somebody once said: There’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco.  A failure is simply the non-presence of success.  Any fool can accomplish failure.  But a fiasco, a fiasco is a disaster of mythic proportions.  A fiasco is a folk tale told to others that makes other people feel more alive because it didn’t happen to them.”  That properly sums up my feelings on this production.  This film is an exemplar of “bad taste” in its visual style, acting performances, computer-generated imagery, and overall execution.

The look of this movie is incredibly second-rate.  Each shot reeks of a sound stage with no real props or anything but green screens around the actors.  There is no authenticity or no style put into the cinematography or camera work.  The poor lighting job accentuates the effect of the sound stage and the overall look of “blah”.  The CGI does not do the live-action shots any favors either, as the action syncing doesn’t quite match up.  Some films achieve great success in making real and non-real characters look like they are really interacting with each other, but not this film!

 

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Along that vein, due to the existence of CGI characters in this movie, the acting performances are rough (though they probably would have been rough anyway).  Like I mentioned before, in scenes that require acting alongside factitious characters, the interactions come across as garbage because of the lack of attention to detail on the side of the post-production team.  A great post-production team adheres to the performances of the actors and caters their CGI work to them, as opposed to creating bogus scenes that drop the movie on its face.

This may seem harsh, but if you choose to ignore this review (and every other review of this movie), you will sit in your theater chair, having paid your ten or more dollars, with your mouth ajar while you ponder why you didn’t pay attention to the red flags.  There is nothing redeeming about “The Nutcracker in 3D”, so much so that the biggest discussion topic you will have from this movie is on who thought up this monstrosity, and why a movie studio would dump $90 million into something like this.  If you must see this film, don’t.

 

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RATING:  zero stars

 

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