Inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann's classic tale and the ballet "The Nutcracker" by Marius Petipa, "The Nutcracker And The Four Realms" is a tale of a magical, mysterious world full of sweets, snowflakes, soldiers and scurrying mice. Clara (Foy) travels along a golden thread, presented at Drosselmeyer's (Freeman) annual party, eagerly searching for a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a music box that holds a priceless gift. When she enters a mysterious parallel world, Clara encounters a Nutcracker soldier named Phillip (Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and three Realm regents, including the Sugar Plum Fairy (Knightley). Ultimately, she must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger (Mirren), to retrieve the key and return harmony to the unstable world. (Gary Reber)
Special features include the featurettes "On Pointe: A Conversation With Misty Copeland" (HD 04:36) and "Unwrapping The Nutcracker And The Four Realms" (HD 07:08), five deleted scenes (HD 04:05), the music videos "Fall On Me" performed by Andrea Bocelli (HD 04:23) and "The Nutcracker Suite" (04:06) performed by Lang Lang, upfront previews, and a Movies Anywhere digital code.
The 1.85:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed on Kodak Vision3 35 mm and 65 mm film stock in Super Panavision 70 and Super 35 using the Arriflex 235, Panavision 65 HR, and Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2 camera systems and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. While a theatrical 3D version, converted from the 2D by DNEG was created, no 3D Blu-ray Disc™ edition has been announced by Disney. As a film production, light textural grain is inherent in the picture. Resolution is generally soft with fine detail exhibited during close-ups such as in facial features, clothing and tasseled uniforms, and set piece objects. Of course, detail overall still reveals less-than-finesse characteristics of the production design and certain character make-ups. However, costumes are revealing of fabric nuances. The saturated color palette exhibits a wide gamut of hue shadings with excellent depth and striking intensity. Hues are rich and warm throughout with bold and brilliant primaries that often pop. Fleshtones retain naturalness throughout. HDR contrast is wide with excellent black levels, revealing shadow delineation, and balanced white levels such as in snowy locales. WOW! segments are from 09:19 to 09:52, 16:15 to 20:08, 30:00 to 30:52, 31:46 to 32:20 and 37:38 to 40:10. This is a very colorful viewing experience with good broad-scope clarity and resolution that constantly attracts attention to a visual exploration of every frame in a fantastical world of realms. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack delivers a seamless classical musical experience from beginning to end. James Newton Howard's orchestrations and that of Pyotr Ilyich and Techaikovsky are wonderfully presented and extended to the height layer for an enveloping holosonic® spherical surround experience. Within the low level dynamics dialogue occurs, which is consistently intelligible though at times wanting in spatial integration. The height layer is a constant for the music and delivers occasional sound effects, particularly the overhead panning of the flight of the owl. Atmospherics and, of course, dialogue are frontal focused. Deep bass is limited pretty much to the music presentation, such as with basses and timpani, and the occasional sound effect, such as heavy soldier footfalls, the workings of machinery, monster sounds and Mother Ginger's boomy and reverberant voice. Inner clarity of instruments could be better as well as low-frequency definition. Dialogue is clear and intelligible with generally good spatial integration. Surround extension is prominent and along with the extension to the height layer, provides an effective holosonic® spherical surround experience.
The Immersive Sound element, as noted, consists of an aggressive extension of the orchestral score to the height layer along with periodic sound effects, especially heard as owl flybys, or the voice of Mother Ginger, the big clock workings and voices on the clock, Clara shouting "Attention!", soldier footsteps going up a staircase to a platform emptying a box of tin solders who are reared to life with the voice "Hello Boys," tin solders marching down the staircase, sword bangs and whip lashes.
This is a capable soundtrack presentation with an ever-present dimensional orchestral score that fully envelops the soundfield. (Gary Reber)