I rewatched the first film right after finishing this, because I had forgotten what I even liked to begin with that was missing here... turns out it was a lot. Firstly, the main character is gone, Teddy (Judah Lewis)... but he's the lucky one because those who are present are all only half-there. There's no family thread, except one that gets sloppily bookended to the beginning and end with the care of a 90's sitcom (essentially a Full House subplot quality, teen girl temper tantrum). The first film they were dealing with a recent death, a cynical world, the son slipping into a realistic life of crime. Where do we start out here? On vacation??? Yes, their first world problem is that Kate (Darby Camp) is upset her mom is dating an awesome guy. I say problem, but this isn't really dealt with as she immediately gets away from the entire cast of her family to have a separate adventure hanging out with Santa (Kurt Russell) and wife (Goldie Hawn) in a bland mess of cliches that only a very young child will like (it does have bright colors flashing).
The rest of the film is a sloppy CGI romp through the North Pole, feeling much like the mess of Santa Clause 2 & 3, super villain and all. We're told the title Christmas Chronicles is no longer their video camera footage (as video camera films are no longer popular) but a series of novels (no doubt to establish a possible franchise and bunch of sequels). The film isn't set in a realistic nowadays world, but 100% in a fantasy, so essentially a totally different type a film and NOT a continuation of the first film. This would be like Christmas Vacation being set entirely in Clark Griswald's sex dream and acting like it's a sequel. It makes no sense. The elves are more like Gremlins (thank you Chris Columbus, just make Gremlins 3 already) than the edgy but sweet creatures from the first, with a goofy drug Elf-bane explanation of why they are snarling.
A bland villain pulls the plot along screaming all the way, instead of the protagonists (which should lead it). Their only motivation is to stop the bad guy, whose motivation is to stop the good guy. That's it. Spy vs spy. That's the movie. Absent are the bystander characters that made the first film fun, the cops, the waitress at the restaurant, the guy who stole the car first, the people in jail. We don't get any characters to really see their transformation due to their seeing Santa is real, ya know the magic of the first film. Santa is still cool, but without his sarcastic edge, snappy lines. In short, the fun is totally gone. It's got 10x the effects and none of the heart or story-building that made the original worth watching over and over. Terrible. Absolutely inexcusable. Watch the first one, ignore this one & future sequels.
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