Welcome to the second half of the Christmas in July Blogathon 2020! Today I am exciting to bring in my co-host for my other annual blogathon, the Ultimate Decades Blogathon, who is none other than Kim from Tranquil Dreams. Kim’s blog is filled with a variety of content from movie reviews to food content to book reviews to lifestyle posts to much much more. She likes to focus on Asian cinema and television but as you can see below, she reviews a little of everything. Go check out her site because she absolutely has something for you. As for this blogathon, Kim always like to bring various types of entries to the Christmas in July Blogathons. This year, she is returning to a more traditional post and providing us with a Double Feature feature (a regular on her blog). Here are her reviews of Dial Code Santa Claus and The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
A year sure does fly by as I join into this year’s Christmas in July Blogathon. The past few years have been lists of all kinds (and a lot of rushing in the process) but this year is going back to my own review structure: Double Feature. As with the past while, I’ve chosen a Christmas-themed movie from Shudder and Netflix and did a little review for both. Here’s my review of French horror thriller 3615 Pere Noel and Disney’s retelling of the Nutcracker story, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.
3615 Code Pere Noel (Dial Code Santa Claus, 1989)
Director (and writer): Rene Manzor
Cast: Alain Lalanne, Brigitte Fossey, Louis Ducreux, Patrick Floershiem, Francois-Eric Gendron
“On Christmas Eve, a resourceful young boy has to defend himself and his grandfather from a killer dressed as Santa Claus. – IMDB”
3615 Code Pere Noel, also called Dial Code Santa Claus on IMDB or Deadly Games on Shudder, is the 1989 horror thriller version of Home Alone, which was released in 1990. It takes place in a mansion and starts off with a young boy Thomas who takes inspiration from Sylvester Stallone action roles most prominently Rambo’s disguise and paired with a warped version of what sounds like Eye of the Tiger in the background to show the booby traps and the high tech elements of this mansion as he reenacts a scene with his dog as the villain. Sure, we’re talking about the late 80s at this point and everything is really dated but it is these little gadgets and Thomas’s quick ideas that all comes into play as the home invasion portion starts up after a slower beginning to set up the villain and his motive to break into the house. Although, the movie itself is only 87 minutes so it’s paced fairly quickly already with the majority of it set in the process of home invasion.
The best part of the film is for young boy Thomas played by Alain Lalanne and the Santa Claus, played by Patrick Floersheim. On one hand, Thomas might not be a seasoned young actor and there are moments where it’s really over the top but the character design is very good. It gives Thomas knowledgeable and resourceful but not forgetting that faced with the violence of an intruder, he still has a child’s fear and despair as he tries to protect his grandfather and himself. On the other hand, the Santa Claus is a very subtle type of character with very little dialogue. While the beginning does pad out a little, it does give context to this character as the everyday person that is neglected in society and yet as he progresses, has this unstable of what the purpose of this invasion is especially when he triggers a hide and seek game with Thomas after he catches him. There’s a lot of mystery behind this character and some part of it left for interpretation.
3615 Code Pere Noel is an alternate Christmas movie well worth a watch and one of those hidden gems that deserve a lot more people to check out, especially seeing that it’s now on Shudder.
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)
Director: Lasse Hallstrom, Joe Johnston
Cast: Mackenzie Foy, Jayden Fowora-Knight, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley, Eugenio Derbez, Richard E. Grant, Morgan Freeman, Matthew Macfadyen
“A young girl is transported into a magical world of gingerbread soldiers and an army of mice. – IMDB”
Disney picks up a lot of these live action children fantasy adventure movies at this point. It’s usually some harmless and visually appealing affair. That’s the best way to describe The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. Set on Christmas Eve where Clara goes to a Christmas party and seeks out her godfather to the key to a puzzle that her mother had left her before she passed away takes her to an adventure in another realm through a passage from the mansion. It’s quite a fun way to incorporate the elements of Christmas in the beginning and take the elements of a classic story like The Nutcracker and be able to reinterpret some of the characters especially the Mouse King the way that it did. The visuals paired with the score as well as the costumes are definitely the highlight of the film. The story itself is fairly predictable and even the villain which should be a twist is fairly easy to figure out. In the end, this is supposed to be a children’s movie for the most part so it’s not supposed to be complicated for an adult to watch this.
If you look at the cast, it’s quite a packed one with supporting roles from Morgan Freeman and Matthew Macfadyen. How many times has Matthew Macfadyen been in the same movie with Keira Knightley at this point, right? Keira Knightley takes on a much bigger role as the Sugar Plum Fairy with a high pitched voice and a rather entertaining role. To be honest, the younger roles here who play the lead like Mackenzie Foy as Clara or the Nutcracker Philip, played by Jayden Fowora-Knight are fairly okay. They are still young and have room for improvement for sure especially in some reactions and such but overall, it’s still decent.
There’s a lot of the expected and predictable elements here. For people who enjoy this type of movie, they will still find the joy in it. If you’ve never quite enjoyed these movies from Disney, then its probably not one to catch. It sounds like I didn’t say anything with that comment but this is along the lines of movies like A Wrinkle in Time or Alice in Wonderland where it has a certain level of entertainment and visuals but also a fair share of elements like plot that might feel more formulaic.
For our holiday part, Kim is inviting one of her favorite actors: Nicholas Tse.
Thanks for joining the blogathon again this year, Kim!
Tomorrow is the final guest post of the blogathon from the blogger who has thousands of films reviewed on his site.
Until next time, cheers!