Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Main Performers: Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman
Director: Lasse Hallström, Joe Johnston
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures, The Mark Gordon Company
Run Time: 99 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
Clara and her family are grieving over the recent death of her mother as they prepare for Christmas. Clara’s father seems lost in his own grief, and each of the children struggle to cope as best they can. They open gifts from their mother just before they prepare to attend a party. Clara's gift is a mysterious egg that is missing the key to open its mechanism. Clara is bitterly disappointed and is harsh to her father, but finds a personal note from her mother in the box that contained the egg. Strings at the party lead to special gifts for each guest, and Clara's leads to another world where her mother was once queen. Clara begins a quest to bring peace to the magical kingdom while she finds answers for her own grieving heart as well.
The sets and costumes are amazing and complex, giving the movie a much-needed visual punch. The story is a bit predictable and lacks some originality but is sufficiently interesting to warrant a view. Clara's transformation and journey are a worthwhile theme but are expected and traditional in a story of this type. It is the background and color that give this movie its excellent rating and that will delight moviegoers. The performances of Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and Keira Knightly are excellent, but could and perhaps should have more screen time to give the overall script more power and depth. The acting and screen presence of the excellent cast is not utilized to its fullest potential. This movie is worth seeing, but not really more than once.