Disney’s take on Christmas classic is colorful but intense.
“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is Disney’s live-action adaptation of the classic Christmas ballet about young Clara (Mackenzie Foy), who receives a special gift from her godfather (Morgan Freeman). In this version (which departs from the usual version of the story), Clara gains access to a magical, Narnia-like world called the Four Realms, where she meets a brave Nutcracker soldier (Jayden Fowora-Knight), the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley), Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) and more. Expect some creepy scenes/characters that could be frightening to young kids, especially the Mouse King (he’s a large, looming creature made out of thousands of small, teeming mice), Mother Ginger’s unsettling security clowns, and a few battle scenes between opposing forces (swords are used). Although there’s no significant injury or death on-screen, main characters do face peril and betrayal, and both adults and children mourn the loss of Clara’s beloved mother, Marie (her passing isn’t shown, but her family is sad without her). Clara’s interest in science/invention is celebrated, as are courage, perseverance, trusting yourself and learning from your mistakes. (90 minutes)
Exuberant music, electric performance in routine biopic.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a fact-based drama about the rock band Queen, particularly its talented and charismatic lead singer, Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek). While there’s quite a bit of drinking (including to excess), as well as characters talking about — and evidence of — cocaine, the movie isn’t as edgy as you might expect for the subject and era. Sex is implied between a man and a woman (they kiss, lie in bed together, etc.), and men kiss and flirt with each other, but there’s no graphic nudity. And language includes
“s---,” “bulls---,” “a--hole” and some racial slurs (e.g. “Paki”) but isn’t extreme. Characters also fight, argue and shout, and a rock crashes through a window. Like many musical biopics, the movie boasts a strong central performance and inspiring song performances, but the rest is pretty routine. It should still please the band’s fans. (134 minutes)
Aussie comedy series avoids scares in fun fantasy plot.
“The Bureau of Magical Things” is an Australian fantasy series about a teen who is granted magical powers after a chance encounter with an elf and a fairy transfers them to her. Kyra is a likable role model: an adaptable, accomplished student athlete with meaningful relationships with friends and with her widower stepfather. That said, her new predicament forces her to keep secrets from them as she treads the line between the human world and protecting the existence of the magical one. Expect a lot of silly humor — a friend believes himself to be Romeo when a memory spell goes awry, a piece of furniture floats through the air by some unseen force, etc. — and easy laughs in simple plots that even young kids can follow. Later episodes see the introduction of a threat to Kyra and her magical friends, forcing them to work together to stop it. (10 approximately 25-minute episodes)
Available on Nickelodeon and streaming via nick.com.
Unoriginal animated fantasy has some scary moments.
“Gnome Alone” is an animated story featuring ravenous, sharp-toothed monsters shaped like bowling balls who eat anything in their way, probably making this too scary for young kids. Trogs bare their huge, sharp teeth and threaten to eat everything and everyone around them. They can’t be killed but they can be stopped by a special form of green slime. They wrap their teeth frighteningly around the legs of humans, but for some reason never bite through. Two kids get tied up by gnomes, then released. Gnomes hit a child in the leg. Cellphone overuse is featured. There’s a fart joke, and “poop” is mentioned, but language is otherwise tame. (85 minutes)
Available via Netflix streaming.
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