Santa Claus vs the Devil Review

With a title like this you would really be expecting something really intense right? Well, it’s a very strange and odd film to be sure but unfortunately it doesn’t stick the landing. That’s not quite right though as that would imply that it had a good beginning. The movie started out on a low note and then it just never improved as the film went on. It’s held back by slow pacing, no likable characters, and a boring plot. When you’ve got all of these elements working against you, it is very hard to have a good film.

The film starts off with showing us Santa’s workshop. It’s a little different in this verse as his reindeer are mechanical toys, he has the wizard Merlin to help him turn invisible, and he even uses technology to get fit enough to go down the chimneys. It’s all a very different setup and instead of elves, he is helped by alien creatures who look just like kids from different cultures and customs. They help operate the telescope which can track any person’s movements on the Earth. There’s also a giant mouth that can hear anyone talking while on planet Earth. Santa came prepared at least on a tech level but the Devil has decided to stop Christmas this year. He sends his loyal minion Pitch to put a damper on things. Pitch will try to tempt various kids into doing the wrong thing so they’ll be on the naughty list. Can Santa stop him?

Well..not really since Santa just watches for 80% of the movie from his telescope. Sometimes it’s unclear if it’s Santa yelling or the narrator but they’re always panicking as Pitch goes around spinning his webs of deceit. The main kid he focuses on is a poor little girl who just wants a doll. The problem is that her parents can’t afford one and so she is tempted to just steal one. Pitch keeps trying to egg her on while Santa clenches his fists and watches in dismay. Ultimately the girl is able to stay strong even when she has a very disturbing dream about this.

I’ll give the dream some slight props for being unique. The backgrounds and little puppet creatures were a bit disturbing. That said, it loses a lot of these points right away since the scene drags on as the girl just repeats over and over again that stealing is wrong and she won’t do it. We get this by the third time she says the line but it just keeps on cycling. Pitch needs to have better material if he wants to trick the kids.

This is also a sleight against Santa when you think about it though. So he never got her a toy all these years when it was her big wish? At best you could say this was really the first year she wanted a doll and in other years she wanted something else but I have big doubts. Additionally, it doesn’t seem like she had any possessions so does Santa just not deliver to the poor? It’s almost like the film itself forgot that Santa was real and treats this like the first time he is going to deliver her some presents. That part doesn’t make any sense the more you think about it.

It’s hard to like Santa though. The guy is constantly laughing at everything to the point where you can tell that he isn’t focused. He falls for all of Pitch’s tricks with ease. Even the narrator seems surprised at times like when Santa tried jumping into a chimney that wasn’t really there. Pitch has the upper hand a lot of the time but fortunately for Santa, the guy is rather inept as well. None of them are able to really gain any ground on each other as a result and just end up being a nuisance. Neither character has a really fun Christmas. It’s interesting that Santa’s reindeer turn to dust if the sun rises though. You’d think that Santa is a vampire or something.

There are quite a lot of interesting ideas here. The only thing I can say positively for the film is that it’s a very fresh take on Santa. It really seems like he is an alien from a highly advanced planet and he wants to make the humans happy. It’s a different look on things and we know he isn’t even immortal as he explains that he is much younger than Lucifer. Some backstory into why Santa wants to help people and how he got this setup would be pretty cool. Unfortunately the film doesn’t ask any of the interesting questions or even approaches them.

A tug of war battle with Pitch and Santa could have been fun as well but it’s hurt by how every scene is so dragged out. Take the intro scene when Santa is listening to the kids all playing their instruments and having a good time. That may have been okay for a minute or two but the scene drags on for ages as we have to see literally every kid play their instruments and sing their songs. It’s all very repetitive and just not engaging. The film will have you asleep before things have even started happening. It’s a shame.

The writing is okay at least though. Santa does remember the true meaning of Christmas and brings up the birth of Jesus Christ a few times. I’ll always give a film some props for doing that rather than trying to say that Christmas is about presents and good wishes or something. No beating around the bush here so when a film directly says that it’s because Jesus Christ was born then I’ll give out some kudos. Beyond that I suppose the narrator had some fun lines. Again they’re all super obvious lines and the film has all the subtlety of a cheeseburger sandwich but at least you can tell that the guy is invested.

Overall, it’s almost like a backhanded complement but that’s about all I could do there. It’s just a shame because somewhere in this film is buried some really cool concepts that we will probably never see again. This really could have been a smash hit and yet the film is just boring. It’s really boring at times and that’s really something you don’t want to see in any film. It especially shouldn’t be happening in a vs title but here we are. If you want to watch a film about Santa Claus, you could do better with almost any other title. The fact of the matter is that this one will ultimately leave you wanting for more or for the film to end much sooner. Either way you just won’t be satisfied here.

Overall 4/10

Holiday Affair Review

The Holiday Affair is a very classic Christmas kind of story. In fact, you would almost think it was a Hallmark movie if it wasn’t so old as it follows a lot of the same story beats. You have the first guy who you know is doomed from the start and then the next guy who will ultimately end up winning out. It’s good but the romance in this one is especially weak which ends up burning off a star.

The movie starts with Steve minding his own business at a department store where he works on selling trains and anything else that customers would need. Well a lady named Connie shows up to buy the train and it turns out that she is a secret shopper from the other rival stores who never had any intention of keeping it. Steve is supposed to report her but doesn’t so he is promptly fired. Connie lets him have a date as an apology (She has a boyfriend right now by the way) and so they go around town as he helps her with these deceptive tactics at every store. Once Steve has proven that he has no integrity here, the two are split up in the traffic where Connie goes home to find her son Timmy and then her boyfriend Carl shows up. Steve ends up barging in later on as he found out her address and now things are going to get complicated. Timmy much prefers Steve but Carl has been Connie’s friend for many years so she was going to reward him with a safe marriage and it would all be happy. Can she really toss this guy aside for someone she only just met a few hours ago?

Now that’s probably a particularly negative way of framing the romance but it was just really bad from start to finish. By the end of the film you’re left wondering if she even really loves either one of them. So for Carl he is the classic “Best Friend” who actually liked Connie the whole time. I mean, it seems like they knew each other for ages at least. I forget how long ago Connie’s first husband passed away but given Timmy’s age, it couldn’t have been too long. So I guess Carl was playing the long game here but it’s always a quick reason to root against him.

That said, it seems like Carl and Connie were basically together, it just wasn’t official since Connie didn’t want commitment. Usually it’s the other way around so that was a fun twist. Carl just doesn’t seem like he would work out though. A big part of this is how he doesn’t really get along with Timmy. I mean, he tries but it’s clear that Timmy isn’t on board with this arrangement and that could cause massive issues down the road.

The biggest issue here is that Connie just doesn’t seem to love Carl. There is no enthusiasm at all to when he proposes which is a huge red flag and she only starts to go through with it because she’s worried that she might like Steve. That’s an even bigger red flag. Carl could have done a better job of fighting for her but at the end of the day do you want to fight for someone if they really don’t want you? In a way Connie made her choice and at that point it was time for Carl to dash out of there.

In general Connie was way too indecisive. She was hanging out with both guys and didn’t see a problem with it. When Steve made a move on her in the kitchen, she should have thrown him out and ended things on bad terms. You really can’t let things like that slide unless he is the one. That was the moment where she just didn’t make a choice and it really hurt her character quite a bit. With her still grieving over the death of her first husband, maybe Connie shouldn’t even be looking for a rebound right now. It’s not like marriage was her idea at all, just both of the guys kept mentioning it. If she wasn’t ready then she should have just stuck to that and just raised Timmy on her own. It would probably set a better example too.

Finally, I have to knock Steve here as well. While I suppose it’s fair game to go after anyone as long as they aren’t married yet, it’s generally understood that you don’t try for someone who is already dating. They should be seen as off the market at that point as they have made their choice. It’s a lose-lose situation for you. If you are able to win them away from the person they are currently dating, what’s to stop someone else from doing the same thing once you are married? If you try but are unable to win over the girl, then you’ll just feel bad. Doesn’t matter how bad your romance radar is, if you keep falling for people who are taken you have to regroup and look for someone else. That’s the only way out of this.

Steve’s a nice guy but it does feel like he was also trying to win favor with Connie by getting Timmy a gift and always hanging around. Some instances like the courtroom were pure coincidence though so you can’t blame him there. I felt like the court officer was also needlessly antagonistic the whole time. The story wasn’t nearly as hard to swallow as the guy was making it out to be. Without a true witness either (The guy had to run on a train after accusing someone of theft….what? If he can’t stick around to identify the perp then I don’t see how you can pursue the case) they should have just let Steve go. Especially after some witnesses were there to vouch for his innocence. It’s clear that the guy just wanted to mess with the main characters.

And to be fair, they make this rather easy. As for Timmy, he is mainly here to make things tough on everyone. Trying to get the refund on the train was fine but leaving home for hours to do it was not since he made everyone worry about him a lot. He should have left a note or something. It would have meant that the heroes would find him and accompany the kid to the store but it still beats the alternative. Timmy really didn’t think this one through here. His grandparents were fun though, they don’t have much of a poker face but they are good with the reactions.

Overall, The Holiday Affair is a fun Christmas film. I liked the dynamic Steve and Connie had before they got together as he was quite the sharp seller. That said, the title is very appropriate for the film as the whole romance just feels like two different affairs. I don’t see the relationship being perfect long term and either way it just feels like a lot of rebounds here. I have to doubt Connie’s overall sincerity here and we don’t even know Steve all that well. Certainly not long enough to really know how well he’ll do in this role. This film may be older but the romance moves at quite the rapid pace and I just don’t think it works here. At least with all of the characters being so open about this, it’s nice to see Steve and Carl really get into it with passive aggressive comments. I won’t forget Steve’s speech at the dinner table anytime soon.

Overall 6/10

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year Review

Hallmark has returned once again. This is a bit of an older Hallmark film and you can tell that it is quite a bit different from the newer ones. At least the ones I have seen thus far as this one has some action and a real sense of danger here. Things aren’t quite as happy the whole time although this is certainly still a feel good movie. It works rather well and I could call this one of the stronger Hallmark films. It’s not quite at the top but it has a lot of heart.

The movie starts with Christmas fast approaching and Jennifer is getting ready to pick up her uncle Ralph at the airport. It’s going to be a very nice Christmas celebration as her fiancé Richard is coming over and Jennifer will get to see his parents again. Ralph doesn’t seem crazy about Richard but he doesn’t seem like a bad guy either. Perhaps a bit stuffy but a decent fella. Well, things take a turn when Ralph bumps into a nice guy named Morgan at the airport and invites him over for Christmas. Is it time for Jennifer to trade guys?

I mean, it is obvious from the start that she is going to ditch Richard. The only question is, how quickly will she do this. Will this happen at the end of the film, Will Richard make a mistake or just lose out naturally? In this case I would say it’s a mix. Richard doesn’t do anything too obvious but there is one scene where his parents are making fun of Jennifer and he doesn’t stop them. It’s quick and the parents aren’t too exaggerated here, but I don’t care if it’s the thinnest insult out there, you have to defend your fiancé. After all, if you can’t trust your partner to help you out now then this whole thing is not going to work.

I know the film has to give Richard some bad quality so you don’t root for him in the end but each time I just wonder how the relationship even got this far. It’s interesting because I watched a film after this one with a similar romantic option where the “safe, nice guy” pick was the wrong one and that is the main critique Morgan gives here. Richard is just too basic and all of that. I never agree with that criticism though because I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. Like the joke of “Does he fold his clothes neatly” is seen as a bad thing. I suppose they would prefer a slob eh? So you don’t win any points by using that as an attack but Richard not defending Jennifer is enough for me to give him the thumbs down here.

I was just glad that the film had some restraint and didn’t make him out to be a total jerk or anything. He seems quite reasonable to me and of course it makes sense that he wouldn’t like Morgan since Morgan is trying to take his girl. Then you have Morgan who you know is doomed to be the main guy here. He is very quick to criticize Jennifer and her life choices like mailing out cards to everyone. She was right that this was real sudden considering they just met but he did apologize so that was good. On the whole Morgan’s a solid character and he does try really hard to help Jennifer get the toy for her son. He’s just a classic nice guy with no strings attached and so it all worked out for him.

That said, I would still say the romance here is weak because it’s a total rebound. Jennifer was a few days away from marrying Richard and suddenly she is completely together with Morgan? Yeah that’s just way too fast so I wasn’t buying into it. Beyond that Jennifer is rather mean in this film. She’s incredibly rude to her neighbor throughout the film and I didn’t think she deserved that. The neighbor is a little noisy and always talking but Jennifer just plays along which is only encouraging her. If Jennifer had told the neighbor she wanted the lights a certain way or something and the neighbor continued to pester her? Okay then that’s different but instead Jennifer is passive aggressive throughout the entire film which gets old really quickly. It just wasn’t deserved the whole time which is what hurts. By the end I like to think Jennifer is a nicer character…but I can’t be sure of that. There’s no real indication that she would be nicer to the neighbor since Morgan doesn’t like her either.

Finally we have Ralph and he’s a fun side character. He certainly has a preference for which guy Jennifer picks and does his best to run interference. He even plays a VHS to try and trick Jennifer at one point. His real standout scene is when he takes out some guy who tries to mug him though. Ralph doesn’t back down from a fight and clearly kept his combat skills even though he is retired. It had to be the most surprising scene in the film but in a very good way. That’s really how you get the job done. Ralph steals the show in this movie and is easily the standout character.

Every scene with him is a lot of fun. At the end of the day, that’s the core advantage that most Hallmark movies have. They’re just a lot of fun and really fly by in an instant. I wouldn’t say they have any big weaknesses and the character cast is always on point. You can feel the Christmas cheer here and the only thing the movie was missing was some Christmas cookies. We got a turkey which is a big subplot in the movie but a few desserts would have been nice to see too.

Overall, This movie’s a success and I would give it a thumbs up. If you’re looking for a good Christmas film to check out, you really can’t go wrong with this one. It ticks off all of the right boxes and just keeps the adventure rolling. The small fight scene we got at the beginning was fun and there’s even a scene later on where the main guy has to fight a store owner. Now, this moment is harder to cheer for since he’s basically taking out an innocent store owner. The guy was rather mean the whole time but Jennifer did arrive past her promised time at which he said that would be game over. By the end of the film your main message here is to always make your deadlines.

Overall 7/10

Christmas Carol (1938) Review

Time for another Christmas Carol adventure. This is one of the earlier ones from 1938 and is definitely still a classic. The story has aged well even if Scrooge himself can be a bit cheesy with the quick turnaround here. Of course he does have to turn good sooner or later so might as well have this occur early on. It’s easy to see why the story got so big as it’s a well rounded adventure.

The movie starts off with Fred getting ready to visit his Uncle Scrooge. Scrooge isn’t big on Christmas though and is still being rather rude to everyone. He has earned himself quite the reputation so everyone knows to avoid Scrooge. Fred is unable to convince Scrooge to come over for Christmas so he heads on home. Scrooge fired his assistant Bob on Christmas Eve which shows just how cruel he can be. Well, 3 ghosts have appeared and they are going to show Scrooge the past, present, and future in order to get him back into Christmas shape. Will Scrooge see the light or will he keep yelling Humbug?

The cast is fairly small here so each character gets a good amount of development. You can quickly see each of their personalities from the jump and that provides all the context you need for the story. Like Fred is instantly shown to be a really happy guy who loves Christmas. That’s who he is and makes for a great foil to Scrooge. It’s clear that Fred is someone who will be having a lot of fun all of the time and his family was certainly doing well too with their party.

Then you have Bob who is an honest worker and is just trying to make enough money to pay the bills. It seems like there aren’t a whole lot of jobs in this town given that the only option was to work for Scrooge. I would say Bob is extremely timid but when you absolutely need a job and there no union at the ready, it’s understandable that he would be walking on eggshells the whole time. It’s a shame that he had to get canned on Christmas Eve just for having a bit of fun.

As for Scrooge, well he is the ultimate Penny pincher. The guy is as rich as can be but he still doesn’t want to pay a living wage and won’t even put wood in the fireplace to keep it warm. Scrooge even goes as far as to completely shun the people trying to raise money for the poor. Scrooge is doing his best to play the role of the Grinch and ruin Christmas but that’s when the 3 ghosts come in. They try all of the routines, being nice, scaring Scrooge into submission, or even letting him feel like he’s in control.

Before the 3 ghosts though we do get to see good ole Marley. He’s always an interesting character because he was also a very successful businessman but someone who was also generous. Somehow Scrooge didn’t even know about this so I feel like Marley must have been exceptional at business for this not to have been apparent. Still, it didn’t go very well for him since he was in chains. Was he just not good enough? In a lot of Christmas Carol versions he was shown to be just as bad as Scrooge so it made sense why he was shacked and trying to tell Scrooge not to make the same mistakes. In this version he seemed decent from the start but maybe he was still stingy to an extent and that was his downfall. It’s a small thing but something to think about.

The first ghost is the nice one who shows him the past. She has good speed and reaction times with how she was able to teleport away from his grab in the end. From the 3 visions the first is never as strong as the other two since the first is about his childhood days. Not a lot going on there but we do see how he managed to push everyone away. If he had just gone to play with the other kids then it could have been all good but I don’t think that was possible for a kid his age.

Then we have the second ghost who is the father of many. He has a lot of fun mind controlling the people which is always a bit iffy. It’s why you rarely see heroes using mind control since even using it for the right reasons seems like a bit much. You’ll never know which characters are being good or mind controlled. Nice enough guy though and by this point Scrooge had totally bought in to the spirit of Christmas. You feel like the third ghost didn’t even need to appear but I guess you might as well go for the full combo at that point.

Finally we get to the last ghost who isn’t very talkative. It’s rather late by this point so the ghost probably wanted to get this done and head out. We see the bleak futures of what could be if Scrooge had stayed in his ways. He certainly would have left quite a lot of loss in his wake. It shows how powerfully rich he was in the end. With his fortune he could really make a difference in the town.

The Christmas Carol is a fun film with good pacing and writing. There aren’t any real weaknesses to the story so you should have a good time even if you have seen the story told many times before. In this particular version it felt like Scrooge turned good a little too quickly which would be my only note. It just made the third ghost feel a bit unnecessary which I don’t think was the intention. Usually you want all 3 to play a good role.

Overall, A Christmas Carol is as good a story as it ever was. You get to see what a town experience may have looked like so many years ago and the cast is enjoyable to watch. It would be quite exciting if you could visit your own past as a sort of “Greatest Hits” montage. I could probably go without seeing the future though to avoid any time loops. You never know what ripple effects you might end up creating which will just cause a whole lot of trouble. If you haven’t seen this one yet then it’s worth checking out. Of course there are so many different versions which are all usually solid so you don’t really have to watch this one in particular.

Overall 7/10

The Nine Kittens of Christmas Review

Hallmark returns with another big Christmas title. This one’s even a sequel to one of their earlier Christmas titles which is pretty neat. You definitely don’t see sequels like that very often. I don’t think it quite takes down the original but it’s fun to see the characters again. It’s hard to buy into them breaking up the way that they did but I suppose the film wanted to get some drama in somehow.

The movie starts off with Marilee getting ready to take a trip back home. She moves away after breaking up with Zachary and found a new man to love. In fact they are quite close to being married but he is unable to make it for this vacation and we find out this is not the first time they had to have a change of plans. Marilee breaks off their relationship and goes back home by herself. It’s all going well until she runs into her ex: Zachary. It turns out that he never rebounded with anyone once she left so maybe Marilee can get him once more. Will the two be together for Christmas and is there any reason we should think this will last this time?

Now the movie is a solid one as you’d expect with Hallmark titles but the romance has to be one of the weakest ones. Because the main characters have already broken up once you just feel a bit more jaded this time around. Clearly Marilee moved on quickly since she was getting ready to marry someone. Rebounds will always weaken a romance for me because you just have a lot of doubts here. You know that this wasn’t the first pick so it doesn’t feel as genuine. As the romance plays a big part in the film here, you can see how that hurts the movie a bit. You know where it is going from the start but you’re just not able to get on board.

The reasons for why Marilee and Zachary are kept rather vague too. It seems like Zachary was not ready for the big changes that Marilee wanted and so they drifted apart. It doesn’t seem like either one tried very hard to get the other back either. Ah well, at least both of them have found success on their own. Marilee became quite accomplished in her field of pet care and Zachary is next in line to be the chief. Both of them stuck to their guns and have done rather well.

Marilee’s a good main character who always wants to help people out. She’ll go the extra mile to ensure that the animals are well taken care of and won’t back down. Zachary’s a nice guy who can’t leave a kitten in need and is also super humble so he’s not sure if he’s ready to be a big boss. Both characters are solid even if a bit one dimensional so they work well in leading the movie. Then you have the current fire chief Sam who has really done a good job all these years. It’s clear that he has done well by the community and so it’s about time he lets himself retire.

The movie goes by really quick so the pacing is on point. I guess it just feels a bit emptier compared to some of the others. There really isn’t a big ordeal to overcome or any real big obstacles. There’s no rival, barely even any misunderstandings. I suppose the focus here is just on seeing the two get back together but otherwise it feels a bit more uneventful. This realization hits you a lot harder once the film is over though so during it you should be good. We get some Christmas music and all which is always a good thing.

At the end of the day there isn’t really anything bad about the film which is always important. It’s just a fun Christmas film to get you into the festive spirit. You can probably watch this at any time but doing it around Christmas will end up boosting the experience a bit. The kittens are nice enough as well. I’m definitely way more of a dog person so seeing a bunch of puppies around would have been cool but the kittens help get the characters back together which is important. Without them the heroes would not have made nearly as much ground considering how easy it is to push them apart.

Low key I have to give the heroine’s friends some credit here. Initially when they aren’t sure if Zachary would be a good match right now, they have Marilee’s back at all times. Whether it’s awkwardly asking if she wants to shop with them as a way to get away from Zachary or just standing by her, it was nice to see the loyalty here. It’s always good to have quality friends at the ready and Marilee’s friends were good.

Overall, There isn’t a ton to talk about in this film. It really doesn’t have a big plot or anything like that, it’s just a fun Christmas story with a lot of drama and some romance. I didn’t buy into the romance angle but beyond that the movie is strong on all sides so I’d recommend giving it a watch. There may not be a whole lot to discuss but you’ll have a good time and that’s the important thing in the end. Now that we have one sequel, hopefully they make a second so we can just turn this into a full trilogy.

Overall 7/10

A Kiss Before Christmas Review

The Hallmark channel has always had a great record when it comes to churning out solid Christmas films. This one is no different and makes for a good experience from start to finish. The film has good pacing, writing, and just ends on the right note. If anything the only element this film lacked was more Christmas snacks since the films usually give that quite the spotlight. Maybe next time and either way as long as the story is good that’s more of a bonus anyway.

The movie introduces us to Ethan who has always done things the right way while he watches his colleague Doyle take shortcuts at every opportunity. Ethan has always been proud of who he is, but lately he feels like he made the wrong choice by being a good person. He’s been stuck in the same job for 10 years while Doyle continues to move up and Ethan’s house is even super beat up. The last straw is when he makes a deal with a nearby newsstand owner instead of chasing her off the property. Now his promotion may be in jeopardy. In a moment of weakness Ethan makes a wish to go back to the moment in time when he first made the good guy move and instead to make the wrong one. Well Santa decides to humor him and so Ethan wakes up in this new world. In this world Ethan is super rich and is even the co-owner of the company. Ethan’s convinced that his life is now perfect and this shows that he made the right call all along. Is he right though?

Of course it’s nice to be rich but since Ethan met his wife on the elevator since he skipped the first one, this new timeline means they never met. That also means he never adopted the two kids and they are still at the orphanage currently. So Ethan’s new status came at a big price. Of course the moral here is to do the right thing and he should go back to his family. It’s a good moral although I almost feel like Ethan could have had his cake and ate it too in the end.

So in this film Ethan is unable to go back to the main timeline until he lives this period out through Christmas and discovers what he is lacking. At that point he will lose his memories of the old life although he keeps his new personality based on what we see. During the course of the movie he is able to win over his wife Joyce once again to the point where they are going out. So if he stays in this world he can still end up marrying her only this time he is rich and she got the degree that she wanted.

In this timeline her mother seemingly never got injured either. So the only loss here is that the kids are adopted by someone else already although their parents are clearly good people so at least there’s that. They still have a good life ahead of them and now Ethan can use his newfound money and power to make the city a better place. It’s a rather tempting offer to stay in the new world and enjoy it. Ethan will also get his memories of the new timeline back presumably which should help him not have to bluff everything anymore. He would have lost around 13 years of events from his family life though and he can’t get those back.

So it’s an interesting idea but of course it makes sense why he would want to go back. It also makes for a fun ending as we’ll see if everyone believes in his new story or if they think he just went crazy or was having a dream. All of those options are fairly reasonable since believing in a magic Santa would be tough. Also, he will have a more difficult time proving it since in the new world he could at least mention things he shouldn’t know. In this world though? Not really an easily solution like that.

Ethan was a fun character throughout. He did a good job of being a leader and really made everyone around him better. Then you have Joyce who was good in both continuities. As a lawyer she did a good job standing up for the youth center and ultimately pushing through until she could claim victory. Rona was the big boss in the original dimension and she’s a nice character. Ultimately she became really successful on her own and while she may have overlooked some dealings beneath her, she was someone who would look out for the little guy. She really came in clutch during the climax of the film since the heroes were nearly defeated. That said, it was a big mistake on Ethan’s part to forget that he was rich in this world.

Finally you have Doyle who serves as the main villain in this film. He’s an absolutely ruthless business man who will cut any corners and pressure anyone if it means that he gets his way. In a way Doyle seemed to even have more power than Ethan despite being co-owners. It was fun seeing Ethan pull a fast one on him during their TV appearance though. I was glad Doyle didn’t get off too easy here since he really did cause a lot of damage and destruction the whole time.

Of course we get some fun Christmas songs here as well. The soundtrack is on point and there’s also a lot of nice scenery. It makes for a very pleasant watch. The writing is good like you would expect and the movie really flies on by. Ethan has to overcome his own issues by the end of the film but you never feel like any character goes too far. The closest the film goes to having pointless drama is when Doyle nearly tricks Joyce into turning on Ethan. Fortunately that didn’t work but if it had that would have felt like a bit much because there’s no reason to trust Doyle at this point.

Overall, A Kiss Before Christmas is definitely a solid movie. It’s definitely a fun one to watch as you get close to Christmas. I have to say that Santa didn’t seem very heroic in this film though. At one point he starts messing with Ethan’s mind even before the Christmas deadline has appeared. That felt like he was hitting way below the belt since that’s not supposed to have happened to soon. Fortunately his attempt did not work but the characters should definitely be careful around him.

Overall 7/10

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause Review

While the first two Santa Clause films were ranging from very good to great, the third installment ends things off on a whimper. It just isn’t able to compete at all. The reason for this is that the human areas have effectively stopped appearing. Almost the whole film takes place in the North Pole this time and let me tell you, that’s not a good idea. That’s where the weakest characters are after all so it’s just not going to work. The best part of the film is sadly a very short set of scenes.

The movie starts with Santa doing his best at Christmas as usual but this year things are extra hectic. There are delays in the present supplies which means that Santa has to inspect these things a lot closer than he usually would. Then his wife Carol is starting to miss being at home. Scott figures if she can’t go home then he’ll just bring her parents to the North Pole. They’ve never liked Scott though so the whole thing is a little tricky. With Christmas getting more and more stressful Scott is reminded that he can use the Escape Clause to make it so that his adventures as Santa never actually happened. Should he really undo everything that has already occurred?

I should mention, this is already part of the plot that seems forced. Why can’t Carol just go and spend some time at home? I feel like that should be an option as a little vacation of sorts. At the very least it’s an alternative to consider as opposed to going through an elaborate set up to bring her folks and then pretend that this is Canada. It’s never even considered though and based on what the parents say, Carol hasn’t been home in years. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it.

There’s also another plot in the air. So, I didn’t mention them in the previous review but there is a council of Supernatural creatures such as the Toothfairy, Mother Nature, Easter Bunny, and more. They were fairly pointless in the second movie just as in this one so there’s not a lot to say about them. It’s a fun concept but the film doesn’t actually do anything interesting with them so you can definitely be forgiven for forgetting them entirely.

That being said, this time they play a bigger role because of one member known as Jack Frost. He’s upset because he’s the only member not to have his own holiday so he keeps trying to steal Christmas. Scott is ready to expel Jack but then decides to give him a second chance. He’ll let Jack Frost observe Santa’s workshop during the busiest time of the year with no real supervision. Jack accepts since this is the perfect time for him to sabotage Christmas. Throughout the movie we see him breaking equipment and messing with everyone the whole time. Unfortunately nobody is able to stop him.

It leads to a pretty rough scene where Lucy figures out the gameplan but isn’t able to tell anyone before being defeated along with Neil and Laura. You’d think they would have put up a better fight but they end up getting frozen without even landing a hit. It was definitely a pretty shameful appearance for them. Jack’s an interesting villain but one who gets away with far too much. Pretty much any scene with the guy is one where he is just messing up another piece of equipment with no actual punishment for his actions. You’d think that someone would catch him but that’s not the case. Even by the end he’s barely punished for everything he did.

That’s definitely one of the more annoying parts. That said, it does lead to the best part of the film which is the part where he and Scott have to time travel back to the past where the first film took place. Scott’s definitely been slacking off on his fighting ability though given how he was easily defeated by Jack. From there we get to see an alternate past where he never became Santa and how badly it turned out for everyone. At least this now gives Scott closure that he made the right move all along. My only problem with this is that the plot doesn’t appear until near the very end of the movie so there is almost no time to actually explore this. It’s an incredible premise and not one that could be explored in a few moments like that. I dare say that most of this film should have involved this premise.

After all, Jack learns about this trick from Curtis near the beginning of the film so we know it’s going to happen at some point or another. Instead of buying time with Jack breaking everything just cut to the chase. That way we’d have more time in the human world and that would have been a blast. The movie absolutely would have benefited from going down this route. Of that I definitely have no doubts. Ah well, I guess it wasn’t to be. It’s not that this film did a whole lot wrong but one of its main weaknesses is that it’s not all that funny anymore. I can’t think of any really humorous moments in this film and for a comedy that’s pretty bad. It’s definitely going more for crude humor this time around which doesn’t work well.

Most of the characters aren’t quite as reasonable either. If you thought Curtis was bad in the last film then he’s way worse here. Scott and Carol’s disagreements felt contrived as Scott was completely out of character with how much he was ignoring Carol and Christmas. Meanwhile Carol was fairly quick to escalate things as well especially with her parents antagonizing Scott the whole time. Then you have Neil and Laura who really don’t get to do much of anything here. You could say they are just along for the ride but that’s about it. Lucy gets a bigger role at least as she gets to have a blast at the North Pole. She didn’t do too well in the fight against Jack though.

Bud and Silvia are decent characters but definitely some of the meanest ones here. They’re always taking a lot of shots at Scott. I suppose they should be upset though. I’ll give Bud some props for being quick to help fix things though. He was definitely a solid handyman while Jack was busy messing the place up. I still can’t get over how Scott just let the guy run wild without a care in the world. He wouldn’t have made this mistake back when he was a business exec. Scott would have been on that guy right away and ready for a win.

Overall, Santa Clause 3’s mistake is very simple. It decided to focus on the North Pole which is consistently the weakest part of each film. Now, you can certainly have a good film at the North Pole I’m sure but then the writing has to be quite good and I can’t say that it was here. The writing is decent at best but most of the jokes don’t land and the character cast isn’t great. The difference between this film and the first one is pretty massive. It’s a decent end to the trilogy I guess but there’s very little replay value and you’ll likely be disappointed if you expect it to be on the same level as the first two.

Overall 6/10

The Santa Clause 2 Review

Time for the big Santa sequel! This time we’ve got more of a focus on the North Pole as they get their own subplot but there are still enough human scenes to keep you going. This one goes for more of a 50/50 blend so while it can’t quite touch the original, I’d still call it a pretty good film. The human world stuff is really solid as expected while the North Pole action isn’t as engaging. It is pretty fun to see the fake Santa’s facial expressions though as he reminds me a lot of the Cat in the Hat.

Scott is now an expert Santa who has done well at Christmas over the years. Unfortunately there is now a snag in the operation since a new Clause has been discovered in the contract which states that he has to get married or lose his powers. The whole thing is pretty suspect and forced for drama but I guess we have to roll with it. Santa heads back to the human world to find someone to marry while Bernard and Curtis stay back to look over the Pole. Unfortunately they are unable to do this on their own and create a Santa robot to rule until Scott returns. Unfortunately the robot has other plans.

Right from the jump there is an issue with this premise. Before Scott showed up in the first film, Bernard was perfectly able to look over everything without help. Why do they need a fake Santa at all? Also, keeping the secret of the real one being away doesn’t serve any real purpose if you ask me. I don’t see how the Elves would panic without Santa being around and this led to the circumstances of the fake taking control. So no part of the North Pole subplot was thought over all that carefully. None of it makes all that much sense so that was unfortunate.

This plot just isn’t very interesting in part because I don’t like Curtis as a character. He’s got to be the worst elf as his plans tend to be terrible and he always gets in the way. Bernard would do a lot better without him. At least fake Santa was fun by the end when he really thrived on being the villain. Still, he’s a bright point in what’s otherwise a bit of an uninspiring plot.

Back at home, Scott has to deal with a lot of drama such as Charlie being a rebel at school now. He has started defacing school property and has just become a delinquent. The film tries to show that it’s because he wanted to stand out a lot so Scott would come home but when you remember that he has a globe which summons Scott at will..the whole thing seems odd. It also seems to hint that Scott would just never visit him which doesn’t seem to be in character. I don’t see him suddenly losing track of time and staying at the North Pole. That just wouldn’t make any sense at all.

I’d say what I’m getting at here is that the writing was particularly weak. There are still a lot of fun moments here and I would call the movie a pretty good one, but it’s no longer great. There are enough things holding it back where it just has to settle for being a bunch of fun where you don’t look at the story too hard. It’s the definition of a forced sequel in that regard. The writers clearly needed an excuse to have the characters back again so this is how they went with it.

Fortunately Neal isn’t written out entirely so we get some nice scenes with him and Scott. The dynamic is a little different now since Neal likes Santa a lot and Scott has less disdain for the guy. He still does make sure to interrupt Neal and constantly mock him though so I can definitely appreciate that. Their scenes together are still a lot of fun. Scott is also able to instantly control the room once he arrives at school and defends Charlie well.

Of course there has to be a romance plot here based on the premise of the film. So at the school there is a tough principal by the name of Carol. She runs a tight ship so naturally the rebels at school don’t like her. Well, Scott is on her side with this and eventually the two start to get together but the main issue is that Scott will have to break the news to her about being Santa. As a kid she had a traumatic experience about that so it won’t be easy. Can Scott really convince her of this?

In a way that shouldn’t be hard because Scott performs a bunch of miracles during the film. One of the better moments for him was definitely at the work party where he gets everyone exactly what they wanted for Christmas. Fortunately he did it as a bulk order so it only cost him a magical point. It’s nice because Scott is always a very good natured guy and he just wanted everyone to have fun. He certainly accomplished that very well and I do feel like that’s proof enough for Carol to believe him. I do understand not wanting to believe Santa is real though because it’s hard to wrap your head around that.

Carol’s a solid character throughout and she was definitely in the right with all the school scenes. There’s no way to defend Charlie and that’s why the kid is a terrible character here. Carol isn’t even being mean or doing anything extreme. She’s just laying down the law that you can’t post graffiti everywhere and expect to get away with it. Carol’s stern but a very fair character and never for a moment did I think that she was in the wrong during any of her appearances. If she doesn’t create some law and order now then it’s only going to get worse for the kids later on.

Overall, The Santa Clause 2 is a weaker follow up to the first one but it’s still a good movie in its own right. If the first one didn’t exist then this would still be a fun standalone film to recommend checking out. The continuity boost helps at least boost the fun factor since it’s always nice to see the characters return. If you really liked Charlie in the first movie then the character assassination of him suddenly being a rebel may hurt the film more for you but otherwise you’ll be fine. There’s still a good amount of humor here and solid scenes in the real world. As long as we have that then the film is set. Now if the third film removes that…well we’ve got a problem. You’ll see my review of that one shortly.

Overall 7/10

The Santa Clause Review

The Santa Clause film is certainly a pretty well known one from back in the day. It’s an entire trilogy now and the idea of being forced into the Santa Claus role is pretty intense. There’s a good amount of humor and fun characters here so the film stays operating as a pretty high level. In particular Scott gets a lot of good insults in against Neal which are always fun to see. That guy really didn’t stand a chance here.

This film picks up with Scott running late to get home after a big party but ultimately arriving home. It’s his day of the week to hang out with his son Charlie. Charlie isn’t thrilled about being at Scott’s place during Christmas season and thinks they’re going to have a bad time. It doesn’t go extremely well at first with dinner getting burnt but then Santa Claus falls off of the roof and Scott is forced to take up the mantle. Yes, completely forced here as he didn’t want anything to do with the Santa gig but the sleigh just ended up taking off with him. Now this adventure is poised to ruin his life and possibly get his son taken away. Can Scott prevent this from happening?

A lot of the fun in the movie is all about the snappy dialogue. Scott has a lot of clear disdain for Neal and you can’t be surprised by that. Who ever ends up liking the replacement? Not to mention that Neal’s always pretty full of himself and tends to talk down to everyone else. Scott just ends up flipping this around and makes Neal look silly each time. Neal just can’t even begin to keep up with Scotty’s retorts which is probably part of what makes him get so furious. The banter just can’t be beat and the film keeps the humor operating at a high level throughout.

Another great moment is when Scott’s company starts to prepare their marketing campaign for Santa being in a tank. Scott points out the obvious flaws in such a marketing tactic but does so in a very comical way which I definitely appreciate. The whole gag of him growing to look more and more like Santa is also handled well and you can even see how that would be rather scary since nothing he tries works when preventing this new design. There’s just no way to avoid his fate and the worst part is that people actually think he’s doing this intentionally to delude Charlie into seeing Santa as being real.

Of course the film is a comedy first and foremost so the characters don’t tend to take a very rational look at this kind of thing. They just all pile on Scott and give him a hard time here. Even the court case is pretty rough towards him although I blame Charlie on that one. So Scott’s definitely a very solid main character. He tried really hard to give Charlie a good Christmas. He may have taken a little while to really get in on the action on how being Santa can be fun but at the end of the day he did really well.

What I have to give him extra credit for is ultimately not agreeing with the rest of the characters and trying to convince Charlie that the whole thing was a dream. He came close to doing this a few times but each time he ultimately ended up finishing strong and resisted the temptation. That’s why he’s a quality character here. He didn’t let Charlie down and he also helped make sure everyone got their presents. He adapted pretty well to the evolving technology at the North Pole as well and by the end of the film you could even call him an expert.

As for Charlie, he’s definitely not my favorite character. He really let Scott down at the hearing and gets very emotional throughout the movie. At least he’s a nice kid though. Charlie does his best to do the right thing even if he doesn’t always make the smartest decisions. Then you have Laura who definitely doesn’t get along with Scott super well at times although their various disagreements tend to feel pretty minor. They have some good banter as well and she’s a lot more agreeable to everything going on than Neal. It’s hard to see how she ever got together with that guy in the first place. He’s always getting completely dominated by Scott in all of their meetings. He also has a lot of resistance against Santa Claus to the point where he really tries to get Charlie away from that.

That said, I can’t fault Neal for that. I don’t think it’s necessary to have your kids believe in Santa from the start. He is fake so getting your kid to learn the true meaning of Christmas can be a good starting point instead of all the fables. As long as you break it gently then I’d say that’s fine. While I mostly describe Neal as a punching bag, it’s part of what makes him a quality character here. No matter how many times Scott insults and humiliates the guy, Neal is ready to get right back up again. Now that’s some solid determination if I’ve ever heard of any.

One of the more enjoyable scenes of the film as well is when Neal and Charlie have a discussion about Santa Claus where Neal brings up all the classic counters as to why Santa doesn’t exist with Charlie countering each one. His counters make a lot of sense after all since the whole time manipulation is a crucial part to Santa’s character. It is absolutely essential that he be able to stop time if he is to visit every child on Christmas in one day. So the fact that Charlie already knew about that trick was really good. If I were Neal though I would have quickly brought some receipts for the items Charlie had asked for in the past to prove that I had bought them instead. I think that would have been a winning argument.

I haven’t talked much about Scott’s adventures at the North Pole but there’s less to talk about there. Bernard is one of the chief elves there and he makes sure that all tasks are being performed correctly. He’s good at his job and a stern, but nice guy. Then you’ve got another elf who is really good at making hot chocolate. Both of these characters do well at the North Pole but I have to say that whenever the heroes are there I’m ready for them to just head back to Earth. We even get some scenes where the cops get involved and start causing mayhem against Santa.

Overall, The Santa Clause is a really solid movie. It’s definitely a title that I would highly recommend checking out. This is a Christmas comedy that has aged exceptionally well. The idea of Santa being a binding contract is very interesting. You’ll be having a great time watching the film because it just has a lot of fun moments and quality character interactions. The whole thing goes by in a flash. I’ll have reviews for the sequels up soon but they fail to quite capture the exceptional balance that this film had. In large part this is because this film ironically didn’t focus on him being Santa Claus for too long. If you’ve noticed, all of the positives that I have listed above barely have anything to do with that job. It’s really more about Scott doing his best to make the end of the year fun for Charlie and the hijinks that comes from this is really what makes the film work so well. Watching this for Christmas is ideal but you still have time to check this out for New Year’s if you haven’t yet.

Overall 8/10

Krampus Review

A Christmas film that’s actually a horror title is pretty interesting. It’s certainly not a blend you see very often. I can understand that though as ideally when you think of Christmas movies you’ll think of items like Jingle All The Way or Christmas With The Kranks. After that then you gear up for Halloween in October with the big spooky titles. Well, Krampus is a pretty interesting idea and the film executes it fairly well. The human characters tend to mostly be unlikable though so it’s easy to see why Krampus arrived.

The movie starts with Max getting ready for Christmas. He’s determined for it to be a good year but unfortunately it does not start out well. He gets into a fight at the school play and then when he gets home his parents start bickering a bit. Nothing serious but then his cousins arrive and they’re a bunch of the meanest characters you’ll see around. They torment him for a while until Max throws his letter to Santa out the window. This ends up summoning the demon known as Krampus. He is accompanied by the Elves, Gingerbread Man, A bear who is basically Freddy from Five Knights at Freddy’s, A Jack in the Box, and more. Can the family unite to take these guys down or are they ultimately all about to meet their end on Christmas?

The family is incredibly split apart right at the start so you can probably guess that they aren’t good at the whole teamwork thing. As mentioned, most of them are just pretty awful. Even by the end you aren’t going to like many of the characters. The kids from the cousin’s side are all pretty painful of course so I don’t even need to talk about them. Their entire purpose in the film is to just be annoying and get in the way the whole time. You know that they don’t truly stand a chance at any point in the game. It’s just the way that it goes.

For the real main characters, Max gets one of the biggest roles for sure. He at least believes in Santa a lot more than the others. Of course for Krampus it’s more about personal sacrifices and all with his understanding of what Christmas is. Regardless, he was not pleased with Max by the end and made sure this was known the whole time. The others were really on his hit list from the start but it’s interesting because in a way you’d be safe if you never believed in Santa from the start. He only shows up once you turn away. Then if you’re just an innocent bystander outside you’re really doomed. Those guys were just minding their own business and still got mixed up in all of this.

Tom and Sarah do a decent job trying to get things back on track the whole time. I wouldn’t say they do a superb job but at least they talk back to the cousins at times. Tom half heartedly defends himself a bit like with the whole scouts thing and at least he said Sarah’s cooking was done. He doesn’t really get to shine further until the villains arrive and he fights with his gun. He does last for a bit which is good although ultimately he is heavily outnumbered. The villains not being bullet proof at least gives the heroes some hope. Meanwhile Sarah also steps up when needed. She doesn’t fight with the axe as long as her sister Linda but everyone does get to contribute in the end.

I do think Max brings up a good point of why they had to invite the rest of the family if they don’t get along at all. It sounds like that’s just asking for trouble. Maybe have more of a quiet internal Christmas celebration especially if they’ll be inviting other members who were not invited. Tom didn’t really have a good counter to that question and I think it was worth bringing up. Inviting everyone simply out of tradition is a bit iffy.

Howard and Linda are definitely not meant to be all that likable either. Howard’s whole obsession about being a tough guy and having a lot of guns does come in handy though. At least it meant that the heroes would be properly armed for this scenario. Tom was surprised that Howard brought guns on Christmas but I wouldn’t blame him there. If you’re equipped with guns then the whole point is so you can have them if you really need them. Of course that should include road trips. Both of these characters have some really solid moments during the action segments but it isn’t enough to make you forget what went on earlier. That’ll still be fresh in your memory.

Dorothy is the crude aunt of the family who is always ready with a dicey line. She says what’s on her mind at all times no matter what kind of damage it could do to everyone. I definitely can’t say that there’s anything admirable about that though. Being honest is great but it’s no excuse to be rude either. Then you have Beth who is low key the most reasonable member of the family. At least she tries to stick up for Max at times although she should have just let him snatch the paper back and run interference. At least she was doing something though. Going out in a huge snowstorm is also pretty intense especially by herself.

Then we have Omi but she did not do very good here. She withholds the truth from the rest of the family for way too long until it’s basically too late. Then at the end she didn’t have much of a plan and didn’t look so good. She definitely could and should have played that situation a lot differently. That about wraps up the human cast. So it’s a pretty weak cast to be honest. That’s intentional of course because they try to not let you sympathize with the characters too much in horror titles like this where the villain is going to bump them all off anyway. At least this way it’s a little less emotional right?

One thing the film does really well is with how the snowy backdrop is handled. It’s definitely very eery to see everything covered in snow and so desolate. The place is a true ghost town. The most effective scenes are definitely when the heroes are outside in the cold. Beth’s first adventure out there was certainly intense that’s for sure. Throughout the whole movie there are a ton of solid effects and visuals though. The movie does a good job of that. Even all of the villain designs are on point. Krampus looks intense and his best minion has to be the Gingerbread Man. All of the minions show up from time to time to contribute though. One of the more intense moments was when the whole group attacked at once. I didn’t think I’d see a group vs group fight in a horror title like this so that was a pleasant surprise.

There are some pretty solid action scenes here. It’s a full horror movie from start to finish for sure but the movie has a lot of good atmosphere and isn’t relying on shock value and over the top violence. Most of the violence here is implied rather than shown. So all in all this would be one of the best modern horror films that I’ve seen. The execution was definitely on point. The only aspect of the film holding it back would be the writing. I can’t say that it was all that great or even very good. The characters are mostly all pretty bad of course so that also means a lot of terrible dialogue gets through as well. The characters are always hurling around insults and getting in the way. This is really all from the cousin’s side of the family but it makes for a very drawn out beginning.

Naturally the film does have a twist ending so make sure you watch all the way through. It’s a pretty hype one for sure. I do think there are a few ways you can interpret this one but I certainly know the one I’m going for. Lets just say it involves a loop and I think it’s a nice way to end things off. I could certainly see more Kampus titles just with different characters. It would make for a pretty hype film either way as long as it doesn’t jump the shark. With one like this you always imagine it going off the deep end since the film makers always have to be careful to get a solid thriller atmosphere without things going too crazy.

Overall, Krampus is certainly a different take on the classic Santa Claus kind of films that’s for sure. The idea of a Krampus who shows up to take everyone down is definitely something. If you’re looking for some good thrills and action scenes then this is a decent one to check out. The first act is a little on the painful side though with the characters being as awful as possible. So long as you can get past that then the rest is on point. There’s even a dog who helps out and the film avoids any animal violence so consider me impressed there. If you want to check out a horror Christmas movie then this is definitely the best one to start with.

Overall 6/10