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Film Review: The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

The Christmas Chronicles (2018) is a family Christmas film distributed by Netflix, one of several they have released this year alone. Kurt Russell leads this film as Santa Claus as a meeting with a brother and sister on the night of Christmas leads to a journey to save Christmas, as well as a mission to save their family.

The Christmas Chronicles (2018) – source: Netflix

Netflix have already released at least three Christmas films this year, with the sequel to A Christmas Prince as well as The Princess Switch being released. I reviewed The Princess Switch last week and it was exactly what I thought it was going to be, which isn’t a bad thing per say but isn’t good either. Netflix aren’t known to make the best quality films either, with myself disliking a lot of the original films brought there. I am yet to see Roma but I know that will be the best thing Netflix will have produced in terms of feature films for years.

This suggests to me that Netflix is slowing turning into making the modern day “made-for-TV” budget films. The stuff that you basically expect to see your mother watching at 12pm in the middle of the week, with the same old formula and story repeated and repackaged several times. The Princess Switch certainly felt like that, and nothing says “made-for-TV” more than cheesy Christmas movies focusing on the same formula of love and defeating the evil of the “non-believer”. I was hoping that The Christmas Chronicles would be the exception to that rule, not following the formula of a romantic love and having Kurt Russell star as Santa.

Yes, this may be a soft and cheesy Christmas film, but it certainly isn’t a film “made-for-TV”. This seems to go back to the times of The Santa Clause, where the studios take the idea of Santa and have some fun with the character. Russell is incredibly fun and enjoyable to watch as the character, and it was especially nice to see a refreshing take on the legend.

The Christmas Chronicles (2018) – source: Netflix
This is also unique in the sense that I actually liked the kids in this film. Usually, the kids in films are annoying and feel unnecessary to the story. However, that is not the case for this film. The children in this film are absolutely vital to the story, and they feel fleshed out as characters. We get to see why they act the way that they do, and it is nice to see children behave the way that these characters do in film, rather than just tagging along, acting out of age and being bratty or annoying.
Whilst this may not be a cliche on typical holiday films nowadays, from the romance to the bad acting, it is very similar to other types of family Christmas movies, especially ones revolving around Santa. Most of these story lines revolve around Santa nearly messing up Christmas, and the journey being to restore the Christmas spirit or making sure every child has a gift. However, this film does play with the stereotypes nicely. I especially liked the moments when these characters steal presents, only to reveal a bunch of coal.
The Christmas Chronicles (2018) – source: Netflix
This is a children’s film, so there are scenes where things are explained, and a clear divide between good and bad is made. This makes sense for a Christmas film, and the way they implement it is smoothly done to fit the story. However, I feel like it was more tell than show. I get that for the target audience it has to be, but I would have preferred it if the message wasn’t shouted at our face for the first hour of the movie.

There does seem to be a lack of great Christmas films being released in the past few years, with the only great one that has been out recently is Arthur Christmas. I feel like this is a great choice for a modern Christmas film for the entire family to sit down and enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey we were taken on from this film, and it would certainly be my pick for the best Christmas film that Netflix has to offer this year.


Have you seen The Christmas Chronicles yet, or do you plan on checking it out? Let me know in the comments below what your thoughts are.

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