The Nutcracker in 3D
Directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy
Starring Elle Fanning, Nathan Lane, Frances de la Tour, John Turturro
One expects a certain measure of eloquence from an adaptation of “The Nutcracker,” even one filmed in 3-D. If from nowhere else, it ought to come from the graceful, enduring choreography of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, writ large on the big screen.
Yet not a ballerina is to be found in “The Nutcracker in 3D.”
Instead, Andrey Konchalovskiy’s film goes the noisy family movie route, superimposing mediocre kid-friendly songs from librettist Tim Rice over Tchaikovsky’s timeless melodies and building the action toward a slam-bang fantasy climax set in the domain of the evil Rat King (John Turturro).
Granted, the film is based on “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” the story that inspired Tchaikovsky, rather than the ballet itself. We’ve all seen the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” enough times, so it’s hard to fault Konchalovskiy for trying something different.
The filmmaker has also derived an impressive spectacle in the third dimension, with some terrifically elaborate production design, moments rife with wonder (especially those involving magical trips through an overgrown Christmas tree) and strong performances from Turturro and star Elle Fanning.
The heart of the movie, however, is that of a hyperactive clunker, filled with uninspiring action and the overarching plot-driven busyness that curtails so many family movies.
A lot happens in “The Nutcracker in 3D,” little of it of much consequence, and unless you’re really into adventures aimed squarely at the 12-and-under set, you needn’t bother. Purists would be better served checking out the New York City Ballet’s annual production, which kicks off on Nov. 26.