Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Darby Camp, Jahzir Bruno, Julian Dennison, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Tyrese Gibson
Run time: 1h 55min
The coolest Kris Kringle ever is back, following on from the 2018 Netflix smash, The Christmas Chronicles. Kurt Russell dons the red velvet suit once again and returns for the sequel which takes the action out of Boston and puts him in more familiar territory, the North Pole.
Belsnickle (Julian Dennison), a banished elf with a chip on his shoulder, is determined to give Santa the sack and replace him as everyone’s favourite present giver. Living a cursed life, his plan revolves around the theft of Old Nick’s Christmas Star. This star, forged by Forest Elves and channelling a power from the original Star of Bethlehem, provides a protective veil around Santa’s village, keeping its inhabitants safe from the outside world.
Meanwhile, also returning from the first film, Kate (Darby Camp) is struggling to come to terms with her mum’s new relationship with Bob (Tyrese Gibson). Fearing the memory of her father will be forgotten, she takes drastic action to prevent this from happening, but finds herself an unwilling part of Belsnickle’s sneaky scheme. Teaming up with Bob’s overly-anxious and cowardly son Jack (Jahzir Bruno), it’s a race against time to prevent Christmas from being permanently cancelled.
Family film favourite Chris Columbus takes charge as director and successfully recreates the magic found in the first film, whilst bringing his expertise and unique ideas to the table. Indeed, Santa’s Village has never looked more magical and has an air of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory to it; you can almost taste the Candy Canes and smell the cinnamon spice. It’s a spectacularly visual treat delivered with style.
Whilst the script may be a little clunky in places, there’s an abundance of charm throughout, particularly in Santa’s relationship with Mrs Claus (real-life wife, Goldie Hawn). After the exquisite tease of her character at the end of the first film, her maternal instinct is in full flow as she delights in the joy found in children at Christmas time. Paired up with Russell, there’s never been a more perfect Christmas couple.
There’s another musical number that, although a high-tempo foot-tapper, doesn’t have quite the same impact as before. The momentum it gathers as it builds up is abruptly halted for the sake of introducing a new character, which it struggles to recover from as it starts up again. The village’s elves are an adorable bunch full of slapstick and cuteness and there’s a very definite nod to Gremlins as the fluffy fur-balls fall foul of Belsnickle’s evil ways.
Not quite as entertaining as the first film and probably overlong, The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two is still utterly charming. During a year where families have been separated and devastated, there’s a poignant message about love and togetherness at its heart. Kurt Russell’s Father Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving and surely there’s room in the stocking for one more treat.
The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two 2 streams on Netflix from Wednesday 25thNovember.