“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” (Disney)

Mackenzie Foy, Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez and Richard E. Grant star in a scene from the movie "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms." The Catholic News Service classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. (CNS/Disney)

By Catholic News Service

Visually rich but dramatically impoverished fantasy in which, while searching for the key that will open a Christmas gift left for her by her recently deceased mother, a teenage girl (Mackenzie Foy) from Victorian London finds herself in an alternate world divided into the territories of the title. There, she learns, mom once reigned as queen. But one of the regions (led by Helen Mirren) has since gone to war with the others (presided over by Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez and Richard E. Grant). So, aided by a life-sized nutcracker in the shape of a soldier (Jayden Fowora-Knight), she sets out to defeat Mirren’s apparently villainous character and restore unity.

Though suitable for most, directors Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston’s riff on both E.T.A.Hoffmann’s tale “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” and the Tchaikovsky ballet indirectly derived from it may satisfy few. And, while its messages about believing in yourself and cooperating with others are perfectly acceptable, they are driven home ham-handedly.

Occasional peril, some frightening images. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

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