Elle Fanning cracks under the pressure.
Don't expect any Christmas cheer here. The Nutcracker in 3D turns E.T.A. Hoffmann's original story (which inspired the ballet) into a long, joyless Narnia-esque yarn about magical kingdoms and the totalitarian rodents that rule them.
Doe-eyed Elle Fanning (Dakota's little sister) stars as Mary, whose Nutcracker doll (Charlie Rowe) becomes animated when no one's looking. She calls him NC and follows him to an imaginary world where John Turturro's tap-dancing rat king (looking like an outcast from a Dr. Seuss story) burns toys and enslaves humans.
It's got the basic plot points to appeal to easy-to-please young tykes who want to follow their toys into battle. It just needed to be competent, and The Nutcracker In 3D isn't.
The screenplay talks a lot about imagination but has very little itself. The songs, by Eduard Artemiev and Tim Rice (The Lion King) are dull. And the performances are as wooden as that titular doll.
The pointless post-conversion 3-D often blurs, shadows and sometimes distorts the images. I found myself removing the glasses just to check if I could see better.
Buy your kids a nutcracker doll and call it a day. They could probably imagine a better movie than this.