It seems a bit early to start breaking out the festive Christmas films. However, when it comes to the case of The Nutcracker and The Four Realms, there's a heaping helping of epic franchise fodder mixed in with the aforementioned seasonal confections. With big budget plotting comes the potential for 3D thrills, which raises our favorite question: to 3D, or not to 3D?
If you're curious about our thoughts on the film proper, you can head over to our official review. Here at To 3D or Not To 3D, we like to keep our eyes on the screen, rather than in our critic's notebooks. With that in mind, it's time to dig out our festive 3D glasses, and take a look at whether The Nutcracker and The Four Realms is worth the extra ticket money, or if you'd be better off buying a gingerbread house building kit.
There is one film that The Nutcracker and The Four Realms undoubtedly conjures comparisons to: Disney's Alice In Wonderland. Much like that film before it, the candy-colored spectacle looks absolutely fit for a proper 3D conversion, with both thrilling adventure and fabulous visuals being on the menu. Done right, this could be an immersive thrill ride.
As great as the promise of a 3D spectacle seemed to be in The Nutcracker and The Four Realms' marketing campaign, the reality is much less impressive. There are moments where the 3D definitely feels like it approaches being worth the extra money, but those parts are sprinkled throughout the film at an uneven pace. Whether this was a side effect of the film's reshoot process is not clear, but it feels like the best explanation for the varying levels of effective visual cohesion.
There are very few effects in The Nutcracker and The Four Realms that truly pop out of the screen, even in the traditional way. The swords of toy soldiers poking out at the audience throughout the film, as well as the strings leading to various gifts in a first act sequence are the most notable examples of visual effects popping out at the audience. Otherwise, the majority of this Nutcracker adaptation feels like it's firmly planted on the screen.
While the effects coming out of the screen during The Nutcracker and The Four Realms aren't exactly dazzling, what shows up on the other side of the image is barely superior. At the very least, the view beyond the window of the movie screen has clear spatial reasoning. Characters and their environments are well defined, and there are still sparse sequences where the background feels endless. Which leaves a lot of sequences where you can sense the boundary between the background and the action that's happening in front of it.
The Nutcracker and The Four Realms feels as if it's perpetually taking place in a world where the sun is always just dawning, or obscured by smoke and gloom. Keep in mind, that's what the picture looks like without the aid of 3D glasses. Putting those glasses on doesn't help the film's color palette, further obscuring the colors that were so carefully chosen for every aspect of this film. Keep in mind, your mileage may vary depending on how your theater maintains their theaters and equipment; but even with a really bright projector, this film felt really washed out in this category.
With 3D films, the blur factor usually signals how good of a job the conversion / filming team did with their 3D presentation. You'll notice the blur at any moment you decide to take the glasses off during a third dimensionally enhanced film. The Nutcracker and The Four Realms has a consistently good level of blur in its backgrounds, with decent blurriness occupying action and character beats in the foreground. But at various parts throughout the finished product, there are moments of 2D clarity that seem to exceed the standard visual anchor points that help the 3D moments pop off the screen.
Perhaps the best factor of The Nutcracker and The Four Realms' 3D presentation is the fact that it's perfectly smooth to watch. There are no moments that cause the 3D to wonk out, and while there's a darkness to the picture, the strain on your eyes isn't too great. Your eyes might still feel a little tired while watching the film, but it doesn't get to the point where you're forced to take your glasses off to avoid a headache.
The Nutcracker and The Four Realms is not particularly impressive when it comes to 3D thrills, and as such can be easily enjoyed in the standard 2D format. Were the picture brighter, and the effects more polished, this could have been a spectacle worthy of some pre-holiday season 3D fun. Save your money for a real Nutcracker, folks.
How Will You See The Nutcracker and The Four Realms?
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