The classic ballet "The Nutcracker", which is an adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King," has become a holiday tradition. On November 24th that tradition will finally hit the big screen, when The Nutcracker in 3D arrives in theaters across the country. The movie, directed by Andrei Konchalovsky (Tango & Cash), is a musical CG-animated/live action 3D extravaganza and stars a talented cast of actors including Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane and John Turturro. While we have to wait a few more weeks to actually see this charming, new age classic in the waiting, we recently had a chance to screen thirty-minutes of footage from The Nutcracker in 3D.
Basically, the footage contained two musical numbers which run seemingly back-to-back in the film. We are first introduced to Mary (Fanning), who is upset that her brother has broken her favorite toy, a nutcracker. Her Uncle Albert (Lane), who seems to be the real Albert Einstein, fixes the toy and sings to the children while he puts them to bed. The music is the familiar "Nutcracker" melody that most of us know so well. At first, Mary feels silly for caring so much about her toy, but Albert compliments her on having such a wonderful imagination. Mary and her brother go to sleep but her toy, which has now magically come alive, awakens Mary. The nutcracker takes Mary downstairs to introduce her to his friends, a monkey in a suit, a fat clown and a little drummer boy, who all live in a dollhouse Uncle Albert is planning to give her for Christmas. Magically, Mary is now the same size as her companion and his friends, and soon the two embark on a journey up the Christmas tree. This scene looks very cool because of the 3D, and you feel like the snow is actually falling from the sky.
As the two make their way up the tree, the various ornaments begin to come alive. When they reach the top, they meet the beautiful Snow Fairy (Yuliya Vysotskaya). And she tells Mary about the evil Rat King (Turturro). As it turns out, the nutcracker is actually a prince who The Rat King put a spell on in order to steal his kingdom. As the Snow Fairy sings, the nutcracker slowly turns back into a boy. Now, with The Rat King's army on the rise, which resembles WWII enemy-soldiers, Mary and the prince must stop him before he can destroy all of the children's toys in the kingdom. Based on the original music from the iconic ballet, the movie includes eight new songs written by Oscar winning lyricist Tim Rice.
It's always hard to judge an entire movie based on just a few out of context scenes, but if the finished product looks anything like the footage we saw, then The Nutcracker in 3D could be the perfect film to take your kids to this holiday season.