Having just caught the talented Elle Fanning in the movie Super 8, and knowing how good of an actor John Turturro can be (Johnny Depp movie, Monk's brother), I thought I'd buy The Nutcracker: The Untold Story from Amazon without first seeing it.
Boy, what a big mistake!
This DVD starts out well, with lovely atmosphere, unique musical numbers (written by Oscar-winner Tim Rice), great special effects and solid acting (despite Nathan Lane's perpetually quizzical visage as Albert Einstein and a wooden Frances de le Tour).
My whole family and I were transfixed, especially as the wooden nutcracker (in awesome CGI) and Mary ride an enchanted elevator sleigh up through a humongous towering Christmas tree. We had no idea what would happen next, because this "re-telling" of The Nutcracker had been unpredictable from the beginning (e.g. Einstein replacing Uncle Drosselmeier, Mary's mother being an opera singer about to make her debut in front of important politicians, etc.).
However, once they got into the realm of the Rat King, things start getting dicey--violent and creepy, even.
The Rat King (Turturro) and his minions all have rat faces, resembling Hitler's SS in uniform and demeanor (I can handle that--it makes sense). However, things soon turn violent (beyond capturing citizens of the magical kingdom).
For example, a large shark swims in a gigantic aquarium. He doesn't appear menacing beyond being a shark. The Rat King, as he's threatening the captured citizens with a bizarre musical routine, deliberately drops electrical lights in the aquarium. The poor shark thrashes about, as he's being electrocuted--not for a few seconds, but MANY seconds. It was distressful and disturbing to watch.
My family and I were in shock. Soon after, the Rat Queen (the Rat King's mother) summons Turturro's character. She is unkempt, drunken and barely dressed--wearing fishnet stockings (!). In a creepy Oedipal moment, she urges her son to come closer...and as he bends down for her to tell him a secret, she BITES him (hard and long).
That was it for us!
If you're wanting a magical family Christmas movie, this is NOT the one to get! However, if you revel in "dark", twisted holiday fairytales, you may get your jollies out The Nutcracker: The Untold Story.
-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse and Snowland Tarot
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Janet Boyer (JanetBoyer)
Author of The Back in Time Tarot BookandTarot in Reverse. Co-creator of theSnowlandDeck. Amazon.com Hall ofFame/ VineReviewer; Freelance Writer/Reviewer; Blogger; Professional Tarot Reader/Teacher; Lover … more
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Experience the classic holiday tale of theNutcrackerbrought to life like you have never seen it before. This all-new film features a highly-acclaimed cast including; Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane, Frances de la Tour and John Turturro. Join Mary on a magical adventure when her toy nutcracker comes to life and whisks her away to a magical kingdom filled with fantastical toys, sugar plums and dancing fairies. Mary soon discovers the evil Rat King is threatening the kingdom and in order to save the Nutcracker, Mary must uncover a hidden secret to free the prince and restore his kingdom. Based on the story that inspired Russian composer Tchaikovsky to create the music for the iconic ballet, the film includes eight new exciting songs written by Oscar-winning lyricist Tim Rice (TheLion King,Evita).