The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
The Christmas Chronicles 2 is a rare sequel that attaches itself to the original perfectly while expanding on its premise yet also being its own thing; plus it's another film with Kurt Russell as Santa Claus, and who doesn't want that?
Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Home Alone) takes over the helm from The Christmas Chronicles' director Clay Kaytis and continues forward, making it slightly lighter in tone as the film decides to take its setting from a city landscape to the classic Santa's Village at the North Pole. A soon to be classic for holiday film lovers, Chris Columbus brings about his charms from the 90s and makes this a PG film great for the entire family.
Matt Lieberman (The Christmas Chronicles, Playing with Fire) returns to pen the screenplay alongside director Chris Columbus. The story features the return of all the major players from the first, but with more screen time given to some than others. What's important is that Russell's Santa Claus is back and you only have to wait 15 minutes for him to finally appear. The plot offers a classic tale of revenge: a scorned elf decides to seek out personal justice against the jolly legend and prevent the world from celebrating Christmas, leaving it up to Santa and Kate to stop this troublemaker before Christmas is permanently cancelled. There's some twists and turns along the way, but the path always leads to the same resolution. The Christmas Chronicles 2's story is fairly predictable, but its easy-to-navigate narrative brings back fond memories of other holiday classics and makes this experience a cheerful one to have this holiday season.
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2 Is A Rare Sequel
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2 (2020)
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Tim Allen used to be the iconic Santa Claus when it came to feature films, but with the second outing of Kurt Russell’s Santa, Allen has some serious competition. With the heavy inclusion of Goldie Hawn’s Mrs.Claus this time 'round, we have a perfect representation of the magical couple, assisted by the fact that the two are in a long term relationship in real life. The charm the duo brings is remarkable, with their presence helping out the rather rough dialogue at times.
While the character development is overly simplistic in this sequel, the returning characters, especially the film's lead Kate played by Darby Camp, brings along the same baggage from the first, but it's the newcomers that weaken the plot with an always-staring-into-the-lens villain and a stereotypical cautious, nerdy kid that has to find his courage within himself. This downside shouldn't be held against the actors however, as Julian Dennison (our villain) and Jahzir Bruno give their all to their respective performances; it's the script that ultimately hurts their characters.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Christophe Beck's score is an excellent tonal mix to crank up the holiday spirit; it manages to elevate the comedy, action, and charm of the feature. The weakest aspect of the film musically is ironically the musical section of the film, a scene similar to the original's scene of Santa playing the saxophone, but this time the song choice just isn't quite at the same level. This scene in particular tries to capitalize on the insanity of Santa Claus being real, just like the original film, but somehow makes Santa singing a song while playing sax in a crowded airport terminal a dull task to get through.
While forgivable because its atmosphere is delightful, the reindeer and most notably the elves look absolutely awful. It's the exact same CGI design as the original, so you should know what to expect, but that fact doesn't make them look any more decent. On the other hand, Santa's Village looks wonderful and most certainly is made of a majority of CGI. It's debatably the best live action Santa's Village ever put to film, and that's saying something.
The Christmas Chronicles 2 has its ups and downs but manages to retain the magic of the season similar to the sequel of The Santa Clause all those years ago. This leaves the doors wide open for a possible third outing with Kurt Russell's Saint Nicholas in the near future.
THE CHRISTMAS CHRONICLES 2 Premieres on NETFLIX (11.25.20)