18th Dec2018

Xmas Review Round-Up: Christmas Chronicles / The Grinch

by Jak-Luke Sharp

The Christmas Chronicles

Stars: Kurt Russell, Darby Camp, Judah Lewis, Oliver Hudson, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Debra Wilson, Kari Wahlgren, Andrew Morgado, Debi Derryberry, Michael Yurchak, Jessica Lowe | Written by Matt Lieberman | Directed by Clay Kaytis

xmas-chronicles

The story of sister and brother, Kate and Teddy Pierce, whose Christmas Eve plan to catch Santa Claus on camera turns into an unexpected journey that most kids could only dream about.

Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles has only one factor that kept it out of the clutches of a dollar bin – the absurdly affectionate performance of Kurt Russell as Santa Claus. A role in which he revels in with humorous and lively exploits. The rest is your standard merit of a traditional direct-to-video treatment that has moments of entertainment but stagnates in saturated genre convention. Russell steals the show undoubtedly. His charisma and charm is the lifeblood of the picture. A wonderfully exuberant and joyous role is clearly on display, it is Santa Claus at the end of the day. However, a fresh somewhat unique approach is utilised, a more self-deprecating and romanticised version to what is the atypical personification that we’ve seen a million times before, for that I applaud it.

The surrounding aspects of production are all just slightly bland and bleeding of any form of uniqueness or originality. The Christmas Chronicles puts forward every predictable and conventional beat imaginable in any and all Christmas formulas that have ever been brought to screen. Although, a small price to pay to create an efficient ensemble of the genre.
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The Grinch

Features the voices of: Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Seely, Rashida Jones, Pharrell Williams, Tristan O’Hare, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury | Written by Michael LeSieur, Tommy Swerdlow | Directed by Yarrow Cheney, Scott Mosier

grinch-image

The Grinch tells the story of a cynical grump who goes on a mission to steal Christmas, only to have his heart changed by a young girl’s generous holiday spirit. Funny, heartwarming, and visually stunning, it’s a universal story about the spirit of Christmas and the indomitable power of optimism. Academy Award® nominee Benedict Cumberbatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company. With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Whoville when he runs out of food. Each year at Christmas they disrupt his tranquil solitude with their increasingly bigger, brighter, and louder celebrations. When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch …

Universal and Illumination Entertainment have given rest to their beloved Minion and Despicable Me franchises (for now) as we all ironically sigh aloud in inner turmoil, and they now take aim at beloved classics with The Grinch, the first of such films to be pushed through the door. While remnants and comparisons to that of the 2000 Jim Carrey/Ron Howard Christmas tale and the Boris Karloff animation How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Yarrow Cheney and Scott Mosier’s 2018 reimagination of the character is, in fact, a rather entertaining and enjoyable film that hits all the right spots with a balance of honouring what’s come before and standing affirm on its own.

Cumberbatch, voicing the titular character, follows both Karloff and Carrey with a delightfully angst fuelled performance. Gone has the evilness and pessimistic debauchery and replaced is a more social anxiety and recluse aspect taken shape for The Grinch. Which ultimately leads to a more endearing and humanising capturing of such a villain. It starts rocky for Cumberbatch, employing a rather withering and overdone American accent. However, credit where credit is due, his vocal performance is slick and delightfully theatrical throughout. In particular, the scheming and comedy moments work wonders in outlandish set pieces with a humorous menacing charade of wonderful farce perfectly captured.

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