Australian Council on Children and the Media

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

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Not recommended under 8, parental guidance 8 to 13 due to scary scenes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  • a review of The Nutcracker and the Four Realms completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 26 November 2018.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to scary scenes
Children 8 to 13 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild fantasy themes
Length 99 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

While grieving the recent loss of their mother, Clara (Mackenzie Foy) and her siblings each receive a gift from her for Christmas. Clara’s present is an egg with a lock but no key. She tries everything she can think of to open it, believing that it will help her to find herself and connect to her mother. But it seems hopeless when nothing she tries will work.

Clara’s father takes them to a Christmas party in the hopes of keeping up appearances and it is here that Clara’s Godfather (Morgan Freeman) gives her the key to the gift from her mother. Unfortunately, just as she is about to reach out and take it, a mouse steals it away. Clara follows it and finds herself in another world. It is a world that her mother created, a world that has begun to fall apart and turn on itself since her mother went away.

Clara soon meets Philip (Jayden Fowora-Knight) a Nutcracker soldier intent on protecting her, Sugar Plum (Kiera Knightly), a toy that her mother made real, just like all the other creatures in the Four Realms, and Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) who, it seems has been exiled by the others for trying to go against what Marie would have wanted. But things are not all as they might first appear. The key to Clara’s egg is also the key to an invention far more powerful than Clara could ever have imagined. It has the power to give life and take it away and when Clara is betrayed by her advisors it is up to her to save the Realms and set things right.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Death of a parent; grief and loss.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Clara and Philip must fight the clowns in Mother Ginger’s lair in order to escape. They have to shove and kick their way through and around them.
  • There are numerous fight scenes with the tin soldiers that Sugar Plum has created. They are hit, kicked, punched and otherwise incapacitated.
  • The soldiers follow Sugar Plum’s orders to restrain, incarcerate and kill. They are often over-powered and fall in heaps on the ground.
  • Philip is nearly killed by a soldier who is millimetres away from stabbing him through the heart.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The Mouse King is a dark, shapeshifting, relentless figure made of thousands of teeming mice. He chases Clara and, on a number of occasions, grabs at her and tries to carry her away. He is very creepy and disturbing and seems to come out of nowhere.
  • Mother Ginger has a bunch of creepy bodyguard clowns who try to stop Clara and Philip.
  • Mother Ginger’s face, with black cracks and scars could also frighten some young viewers.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

  • There is a flashback scene of Clara and her mother where Clara’s mother is clearly sick. She encourages Clara with tears in her eyes, obviously knowing that she does not have long to live.
  • Clara rides out into Mother Ginger’s lair, an eerie, abandoned, amusement park. There are lots of peeling, creepy faces, black crows in the darkness, suspenseful music and many soldiers who all look scared of the fog that surrounds them. Soldiers begin to disappear, being sucked underground, and Clara races to a carousel to avoid the same fate. Thousands of mice pour out from underneath the carousel and Clara must run into the fog to escape the Mouse King.

 

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Sugar Plum makes a suggestive remark regarding her tin soldiers, saying that: “Boys in uniform send quivers right through me.”

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

Nothing of concern

Coarse language

There are some coarse language and name-calling in this movie, including:

  • Damned; pooh
  • Filthy; lazy; coward; devilish; horrid beast

In a nutshell

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a fantasy drama which takes a twist on the classic Christmas tale. Filmed in true Disney style with lavish sets and costumes, the movie will generally appeal to families and preteen audiences. Because of scary scenes, it is not recommended for under 8s and some older children may also find parts of the film scary.

The main messages from this movie are to believe in yourself, to have courage, and to realize that sometimes everything that you need to succeed has been within you all along.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • courage
  • loyalty
  • compassion
  • persistence in following your dreams
  • forgiving others and being able to look at the world from another point of view

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the importance of equal opportunities for both boys and girls and the importance of pursuing their talents wherever they might lead. Clara, like her mother, has a scientific mind. Despite the male dominated society in which they lived, both she and her mother were strongly encouraged and applauded for their incredible ingenuity in science and engineering. It is Clara’s ability to look at things differently that enables her to escape, and ultimately save the Four Realms.

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