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Review: “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is Bitterly Bland With Beauty

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Disney is in a very unique position as a dominant studio to experiment with more inspiring films for more diverse audiences. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is certainly one of those films, showcasing a female hero with intelligence and inspiration as well as supporting players of black actors. But much like Disney’s previous female heroine fantasy, A Wrinkle in Time, there’s another stumbling in trying to send out an important message to little girls about trusting in themselves.

The good intentions are there with the admirable girl of Clara, played by a plucky Mackenzie Foy. She’s skilled in physics, is handy with repairs, delights in assembling and disassembling contraptions, and has a genuine sense of curiosity. But her mother has recently passed away and she needs some cheering up to have some faith and carry on. Fortunately, she has a brilliant inventor of a godfather (Morgan Freeman) who not only shares her love of mechanics but can offer her a self-esteem boosting adventure. He must have the same interior decorator as the household with the Narnia closet as the godfather’s massive home harbors a portal to a fantasy world, perfect for building a tearful girl into a brave hero.

The fantasy world of the four realms features a host of decadent characters played up with over-the-top behaviors to compensate for their under-the-bar arcs. Keira Knightley plays the obnoxiously high-pitched droll of the Sugarplum Fairy of the Land of Sweets, bringing that voice up so high she’d have to speak bubbly French out of necessity, less her language devolve into baby noises. Eugenio Derbez and Richard E. Grant play the representatives of the kingdoms of Flowers and Snowflakes, acting as the foppest of the fop. Jayden Fowora-Knight plays the Nutcracker of Captain Phillips, who could’ve made for a great straight man if he only had someone playful to play off of. Helen Mirren is mostly herself in the role of the old sorceress Mother Ginger but doesn’t get much room to sell her tragic story. And while it was pleasing to see Morgan Freeman for the bookend segments, I’d wish there were more of him, even if he has to wear a silly eyepatch.

Perhaps the most unique among the cast is Misty Copeland. She has no lines but is the most alluring character for being the ballerina in an expositional ballet to explain to Clara her mother’s history with the realms. No dialogue; only graceful dance moves, making me long for the film to be a full-fledged ballet with Copeland as the lead. Where’s that movie?

Instead of a ballet of the classic story, we’re treated to the predictable theatrics we’ve come to expect from these epic Disney adventures. It may sound strange to refer to a scene where a giant mechanical woman with a circus tent for a skirt swats at giant tin soldiers as boring but what can I tell you. The film throws decadent set pieces of action and whimsy continuously at the screen without drive or personality, creating a coldness as dead as the eyes of the attacking tin soldiers.

I can’t exactly be angry with The Nutcracker given its good intentions and inoffensive nature of being nice with its fantasy action but I wasn’t entertained either. It has a good message for little girls, even if it comes off as the corniest of overused devices for inspiring confidence, especially with a girl who needs more of a minor nudge than a major shove of adventure to be a better person. And when the film’s credits end with a traditional ballet infused with some new moves, all the film does is taunt for a more daring movie that could’ve showcased a beautiful ballet as opposed to hiding behind standard special effects.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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