When Mary (Elle Fanning) receives a special Christmas gift (a wooden nut-cracking toy soldier) from her Uncle Albert (Nathan Lane), it kicks off a series of magical adventures between the real world and her imagination where the doll, nicknamed NC (Charlie Rowe), needs her help defeating the evil Rat King (John Turturro).
Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky creates a murky 3-D stew of film references (everything from The Matrix to Planet of the Apes to Alice in Wonderland) with abbreviated musical clips (from composer Tchaikovsky’s iconic ballet and new listless songs from Oscar-winning lyricist Tim Rice) that fail to spark dreams of sugarplums and dancing fairies.
Without a doubt, filmmaking culture has embraced the three-dimensional visual rush for a variety of reasons — both financial and its ability to immerse audiences in a virtual reality — but the tool has now replaced old-school creative daring.
In this case, rather than pulling out a new trick and knocking out a few musical numbers no one will remember or hum once the credits roll, why not place this project in the hands of a true love-him-or-hate-him maverick like Baz Luhrmann who would have collaborated with the likes of film and classical composer Craig Armstrong and Trip Hop gods Massive Attack in the service of a revolutionary nut-cracking update. That way, audiences would have been able to leave the goofy glasses at the door and enjoy an unforgettable show. Grade: D-