Director Andrei Konchalovsky has given us fantastic cinema, 1985's Runaway Train
and 1987's Shy People
along with decent cinema, 1989's Homer & Eddie,
and cinema that bordered on quite awful, 1989's Tango & Cash.
Whether you're a fan of the Russian theatre and film director or not, there's nothing that could possibly prepare you for the debacle that is The Nutcracker in 3-D.
The Nutcracker in 3-D
is easily one of the most irritating and incompetently constructed "Christmas" films to ever be made, though in all honesty it's difficult to imagine that Konchalovsky actually intended the film as an actual Christmas film.
Do they have Christmas in Russia?
Does Konchalovsky actually understand the basic concepts behind Christmas? Even if he wants to take the Christ out of Christmas, The Nutcracker in 3-D
takes virtually any semblance of joy out of the season and, in its place, weaves together an unfathomably dark and chaotic story that resembles a Terry Gilliam film if Terry Gilliam had made a film when he was eight-years-old and huffing glue.
If you're a devotee of The Nutcracker
and hoping for an updated holiday classic, you'd best look the other way as Konchalovsky takes the basic, very basic, storyline and runs amok with it.
Nine-year-old Mary (Elle Fanning, Phoebe in Wonderland)
is having a rather dreary Viennese holiday when her eccentric and brilliant Uncle Albert (Einstein, no less!) arrives and brings with him the gift of a nutcracker. Mary's new friend, "NC," takes her on a magical and mystical trip involving fairies, sugar plums and one freakishly weird war between the Nutcracker Prince (Charlie Rowe) and the rat king (John Turturro, who has finally managed to make a film far worse than his Sandler films) involved in a crusade that, if it isn't a reference to Nazi Germany, probably should be because that's the only possible conclusion that can be drawn from it.
The film's music even features lyrics by none other than Tim Rice, yes that same Tim Rice who has co-penned such classics as Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King and Evita.
Rice's lyrics take the place, for the most part, of the familiar Tchaikovsky music and may only serve to remind you of Tchaikovsky's brilliance.
I guess everyone has a bad day.
The Nutcracker in 3-D
has been brought back by Freestyle Digital Media for an Internet and Video on Demand release this month just in time for the holidays. Again, one can only ask "Why?" considering the film has little to nothing to do with the actual holidays. It's as if Konchalovsky, who has sworn that this film was a 20-year dream of his, has ripped off the worst features of multiple films and managed to make them worse. In addition to our Rat King, we get a Snow Queen (Yulia Visotskaya, aka "The Director's Wife), a clown (Hugh Sachs), a chimp (Peter Elliott) and even a Jamaican street musician (Africa Nile). If it sounds like all of this couldn't possibly become a coherent film, rest assured that it doesn't.
Eventually, The Nutcracker in 3-D
will be released on DVD.
I've warned you.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic