As I settled down to watch this sequel to the 2018 Netflix Christmas hit, I suddenly realised how very little I could actually remember about the first movie. I know that Kurt Russell starred as probably the coolest Santa I’d seen in a very long time, Christmas was in jeopardy and there was a brief surprise cameo from Goldie Hawn as Mrs Claus right at the end. But other than the fact that Santa had help from a couple of kids who were having a rough Christmas, details were a little hazy. So when part two of The Christmas Chronicles opens on a beach in Cancun, with the two children Teddy and Kate having a Christmas vacation with their mum, her new boyfriend and his son Jack, it took me a little while to adjust and get reacquainted. When all I really wanted to see was more Santa, some Mrs Claus, and a nice Christmassy setting.
Thankfully, it’s not long before we do see them, joining them both in their home up at the North Pole, where much of the rest of the movie is set (yay!). Santa’s village (although there is some ongoing debate as to whether or not the village should be renamed ‘Mrs Claus Village’), is as wonderful as you’d expect. Shops and workshops everywhere, a cinema (mostly showing ‘Elf’) and with a giant Christmas tree at its centre. Atop the tree is a glowing star, responsible for all of the power in the village and for generating the protective veil which covers them all and hides them from the outside world. Mrs Claus not only makes the best hot chocolate and cookies but has also found a rather handy recipe for disguising healthy foods so that they look and taste just like cake or candy!
The village is also bustling with the small furry elves that were introduced in the first movie. I remember when the trailer for part one came out, and I feared that the elves would just be annoying little CGI creatures. But even though they now feature a lot more prominently in this than they did in the last movie, they do actually become an enjoyable aspect of the whole story, particularly when we delve into more of theirs and Santa’s origins, and how they all ended up working together to form the Christmas we now know.
So, as much as I enjoy spending time in the Christmas village, watching the elves make candy canes and Mrs Claus making wonderful goodies, we obviously need to find a way to throw the kids from the first movie back into the world of Santa Claus. So while mum and step-dad to be head off on an overnight excursion during their Cancun holiday, and Teddy and his girlfriend go on a snorkelling experience, Kate and Jack find themselves skipping kids club and being caught up in yet another attempt to try and place all of Christmas in serious jeopardy.
Enter Belsnickel (Julian Dennison), who used to be one of Santa’s favourite, most inventive elves, but his mischief, and regular breaking of the elf code, saw him transformed into human form and banished from the North Pole. Having since built up some pretty strong feelings of anger and resentment towards Santa and Mrs Claus, Belsnickel has now engineered an opportunity to use Kate as bait in order to return to the North Pole and exact his revenge.
That revenge is both elaborate and inventive, involving the drugging of all of the elves and the removal of the Christmas village star in order to set up a rival village down at the South Pole. There’s a time travel trip to 1980 along the way – giving Santa a chance to don the shades once more and pick up a saxophone to join in on another big song and dance number – and a trip to Turkey too, where Santa first began giving out gifts all those hundreds of years ago. Can Christmas be saved? And can the kids get back to their family in Cancun before they realise that they’re missing?!
There is a lot going on in The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two, but thankfully none of it ever feels overcomplicated or too overstuffed. At just under two hours long, it all bristles along nicely and never really drags at any point. Even though you never feel that Christmas is in any real danger of being permanently cancelled, it’s still a fun watch, managing to be just as enjoyable as the first movie was.
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