Better Watch Out (2017) Review

Beaten to the Christmas punch by Netflix’ “The Babysitter”, “Better Watch Out” is the latest home inversion thriller to try to shake up the genre, a sort of festive slasher snow globe of adolescent toxic masculinity and entitlement. In the snowy suburbs, a babysitter finds herself having to defend her twelve-year-old charge from a home … Continue reading Better Watch Out (2017) Review

Doctor Who: Twice Upon A Time (S10E13) Review

*SPOILERS* Christmas is, famously, a time for indulgence and “Twice Upon A Time” finds demob happy showrunner Steven Moffat and his leading man in very indulgent mood indeed. Still refusing to regenerate following the events of “The Doctor Falls”, The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) finds himself at the South Pole, a very familiar South Pole as … Continue reading Doctor Who: Twice Upon A Time (S10E13) Review

A Very Craggus Christmas Special: A Justice Carol

Title image by Rekdit159. A Justice Carol by The Craggus & Charles Dickens STAVE ONESuperman was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk (not Kent), the undertaker (not the wrestler), and the chief mourners (WB shareholders). Bruce Wayne signed it: and … Continue reading A Very Craggus Christmas Special: A Justice Carol

The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) Review

There are two perennial tales we turn to at this time of year. One, The Nativity, may carry the self-righteous gravitas of religious dogma but it doesn’t really speak to the modern reality of Christmastime. For that, we turn to Dickens’ A Christmas Carol which, by its collection and curation of traditions, conventions and practical … Continue reading The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017) Review

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017) Review

In the United States, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” has been released along with “Coco” but, as we have to wait an extra couple of months here in the UK, we at least get the opportunity to watch this latest Disney short for the Kids’ Club ticket price of £3 (or thereabouts) plus the opportunity (should you … Continue reading Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017) Review

Doctor Who: The Return Of Doctor Mysterio (S10E00) Review

Much like children (and *ahem* some adults) across the country, “Doctor Who” reached into its festive stocking and pulled out a whole bunch of superhero toys. Although it’s a little bit shoehorned in during a leadenly expository cold open, once the superhero McGuffin is installed, showrunner Steven Moffat gleefully, almost giddily, goes to town smashing … Continue reading Doctor Who: The Return Of Doctor Mysterio (S10E00) Review

Doctor Who: The Husbands Of River Song (S9E13) Review

*SPOILERS* After the melodramatic melancholy of “Hell Bent”, there was only one direction “Doctor Who” could go for this year’s Christmas showstopper, especially with it coming so quickly after the series finale. “The Husbands Of River Song” playfully picks up with the Doctor’s old would-be paramour and takes him on one of her adventures, with … Continue reading Doctor Who: The Husbands Of River Song (S9E13) Review

Surviving Christmas (2004) Review

Ben Affleck has performed a remarkable career turnaround in the past few years, re-establishing his credibility as both an actor and director with such recent fare as “Gone Girl” and the Oscar-winning “Argo”. It’s hard to believe that he was once one of the most reviled and derided actors in Hollywood. Well, in holiday miracle … Continue reading Surviving Christmas (2004) Review

Krampus (2015) Review

From writer/ director of “Trick ‘R Treat” Michael Dougherty, “Krampus” is a fiercely fun, festive comedy horror with its bony, clawed finger pointed firmly at the cold, cold heart of the greed and hypocrisy of the commercialisation of the holidays. It opens with a chillingly faithful recreation of the worst excesses of the scenes played … Continue reading Krampus (2015) Review

A Very Murray Christmas (2015) Review

Exclusive to Netflix, “A Very Murray Christmas” sets out to gently spoof those ubiquitous variety specials which used to pile up in the festive TV schedules of the seventies and eighties like snow drifts. At its heart is Bill Murray, playing a version of himself – the same version of himself that he’s been happily playing … Continue reading A Very Murray Christmas (2015) Review

The Night Before (2015) Review

If the sentimentality of “Christmas With The Coopers” doesn’t get your fairy lights twinkling and the spooky shenanigans of “Krampus” leave your pudding more duff than plum, perhaps bawdy festive comedy “The Night Before” will put the snap back in your Christmas cracker. From the director and stars of “50/50”, “The Night Before” tells the … Continue reading The Night Before (2015) Review

Christmas With The Coopers (2015) Review

(Christmas) Cards on the table: I’ve got a sentimental streak a mile wide and it’s particularly attuned to Christmastime. You might have assumed from the trailer and marketing that this is a frothy, kooky slapstick comedy but it’s really not. There are strong echoes of Ron Howard’s 1989 classic “Parenthood” but director Jessie Nelson and … Continue reading Christmas With The Coopers (2015) Review

An Elf’s Story: The Elf on the Shelf (2011) Review

For a 23 minute thinly veiled cash grab advertising an expensive auxiliary Christmas disciplinary deterrent ruthlessly marketed as an adorable Christmas tradition that also subtly indoctrinates the youth of today to be comfortable living within an overt surveillance state, “An Elf’s Story” actually isn’t all that bad. The cheap and cheerful computer animation is decent enough and the … Continue reading An Elf’s Story: The Elf on the Shelf (2011) Review

Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014) Short Film Review

Even massive corporate conglomerates make short films! Or do they just make really long commercials? How did you feel about the announcement of "Toy Story 4"? Delighted? Or a bit wary? The "Toy Story" trilogy is undoubtedly one of the jewels in the Pixar crown and many - and I count myself among them - … Continue reading Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014) Short Film Review

Doctor Who: Last Christmas (S8E13) Review

*SPOILERS* A festive special which is unlikely to reconvert any of those who checked out during the last season, “Last Christmas” still offered us a rich and fruity plum pudding of entertainment, perfect for a Christmas Day tea time. There wasn’t, to be honest, a lot of originality in this year’s Christmas special but at … Continue reading Doctor Who: Last Christmas (S8E13) Review

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 24: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

So here we are. The advent calendar has just one day left, and it’s time for the final film of Craggus’ Christmas Countdown. I like to think I’ve saved the best for last. “The Muppet Christmas Carol” isn’t just the last great Muppet movie, it’s also one of the best adaptations of “A Christmas Carol” … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 24: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 23: Elf (2009)

I know “Elf” enjoys a huge cult following and tops many people’s list of favourite Christmas films. The story of a human who is accidentally brought to the North Pole and raised as an Elf, the adventure really begins when Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) decides to go out into the world and find his … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 23: Elf (2009)

Get Santa (2014) Review

It’s not all that often you get a new Christmas movie – in the cinema at least. Direct to DVD and cookie-cutter TV movies abound but a theatrically released Christmas movie is something a bit special. When Tom discovers Santa Claus hiding in his garden shed, he eagerly agrees to help him recover his sleigh … Continue reading Get Santa (2014) Review

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 22: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

There’s an episode of “Friends” where Phoebe learns that many of her favourite films from childhood have scenes she wasn’t aware of because her mother always stopped them at a certain point, notably “Old Yeller”. I’m pretty sure “It’s A Wonderful Life” would also have made the list. The question is, at what point would … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 22: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 21: Arthur Christmas (2011)

By the end of my first time of watching “Arthur Christmas” in the cinema, I’d already welled up a couple of times and my excuse of having ‘something in my eye’ was starting to wear thin. Essentially the story of one child’s gift being missed on Christmas Eve, most of the action focusses on the … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 21: Arthur Christmas (2011)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 20: Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

It’s a wonder it took so long for someone to attempt to make a film about Santa Claus being a kind of super hero. It’s less of a wonder that the people to give it a try would be the same people behind the ailing “Superman” franchise, whose most recent film “Supergirl” had been a … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 20: Santa Claus: The Movie (1985)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 19: A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)

If stoner comedies are your kind of thing, crammed with inappropriate humour, festive dick jokes and gratuitously over the top antics, then Craggus’ Christmas Countdown has got you covered. Picking up six years after “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay”, this instalment finds the pair estranged and Harold established as a successful banking executive … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 19: A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 18: Rare Exports (2010)

Santa Claus is a being of immense and extraordinary power. He can visit every house on Earth in the space of one night, so has the ability to manipulate space and time. He is able to gain entry to any structure and knows whether you’ve been bad or good. He is near omnipresent and omniscient … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 18: Rare Exports (2010)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 17: Nativity! (2009)

Writer/ Director Debbie Isitt’s “Nativity!” is a bit of a curiosity. Although largely scripted, some of the scenes were improvised (an approach which was expanded in the sequel), which lends it a slightly meta amateur feel. Paul Maddens (Martin Freeman), a frustrated actor turned resentful primary school teacher, is tasked with producing his school’s Nativity … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 17: Nativity! (2009)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 16: Jack Frost (1997)

Psyche! If you were expecting a review of the ‘heart-warming’ Michael Keaton snowman comedy, you’re barking up the wrong yule log. However, if you’re finding all the holiday sweetness a bit much and the gathering family are getting on your nerves a bit leaving you pining for a bit of sharp holly amongst all the … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 16: Jack Frost (1997)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 14: Mrs Miracle (2009)

After the festive spirit-crushing of yesterday’s Christmas Countdown, warm, fuzzy feel-good salvation is at hand with today’s special Hallmark moment: “Mrs Miracle”. A made for TV adaptation of Debbie Macomber’s bestselling novel. Widowed architect Seth Webster lives with his boisterous twin sons in small town America. Overwhelmed, he tries to get a housekeeper to help … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 14: Mrs Miracle (2009)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 13: The Town That Cancelled Christmas (aka A Merry Little Christmas) (2006)

Even Craggus' Christmas Countdown isn't immune to the dark powers of Friday 13th which is why today brings us "The Town That Cancelled Christmas". I don’t think it ever had a theatrical release and I don’t know whether to call “The Town That Cancelled Christmas” (known as “A Merry Little Christmas” in the USA) made … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 13: The Town That Cancelled Christmas (aka A Merry Little Christmas) (2006)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 12: Love Actually (2003)

Richard Curtis’ “Love Actually” is often misunderstood as an ensemble romantic comedy, intertwining numerous criss-crossing plots in the run up to Christmas. It is, in fact, an avante garde adaptation of a grand British Christmas institution: “Love Actually” is the cinematic adaptation of a tin of Cadbury’s Roses (or Quality Street if you prefer, but … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 12: Love Actually (2003)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 10: Home Alone (1990)

Like the previous year’s “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “Home Alone” was written by the prolific John Hughes and although they’re set in different parts of Illinois, it’s a nice thought that the Griswolds and the McAllisters actually only live a few doors down from each other. When a power cut causes the family to oversleep … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 10: Home Alone (1990)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 8: The Polar Express (2004)

The award winning book “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg is a charming tale of a magical train which takes a boy who has begun to have doubts about Santa Claus to the North Pole where he meets the man himself and is rewarded with a special gift, forever preserving the magic of Christmas. … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 8: The Polar Express (2004)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 7: Bad Santa (2003)

A Christmas movie to watch once the kids are safely tucked up in bed, “Bad Santa” is not for the easily offended. Billy Bob Thornton stars as Willie Soke, a washed up, bitter con man who spends his Christmases working as mall Santa so that he and his heist partner Marcus (Tony Cox) can rob … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 7: Bad Santa (2003)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 6: White Christmas (1954)

‘Paramount Pictures Proudly Presents’ this film, which instantly made me smile. I mean, studios these days still present films, but when was the last time they proudly presented one? It makes me think of your children bringing home a macaroni and glitter picture and showing it to you as if it’s the new Mona Lisa … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 6: White Christmas (1954)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 5: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

It was a bit of a coin toss as to whether I included this in the countdown. Is it a Christmas film about Halloween or a Halloween film about Christmas? Tricky one, but I decided it qualifies as a Christmas film as it’s ultimately about Jack Skellington discovering ‘the true meaning of Christmas’. Way back … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 5: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 4: The Grinch (2000)

Ron Howard, you’ve done it again. Hollywood’s most chameleonic director transforms his style once more to give us a vividly realised world of Whoville and its nearby mountain dweller, The Grinch. Adaptations of Dr Seuss are tricky things as much of the joy of his books is from the rhyme and metre of the verse … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 4: The Grinch (2000)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 3: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Sweeter and more whimsical than its two bawdy predecessors, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” sees the long suffering Griswald family actually staying put for once while the chaos comes to them. This time, Clark is determined to deliver his dream of a big family Christmas with all of his loved ones under one roof and, at … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 3: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 2: Scrooged (1988)

Reinterpretations of Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” are almost as old as the original story itself. Indeed, it’ll crop up in various forms three or four times before The Craggus’ Christmas Countdown comes to an end. By lucky dip, we’re starting with one of the best riffs on the theme, 1988’s “Scrooged”. Bill Murray stars as … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 2: Scrooged (1988)

Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 1: The Santa Clause (1994)

In the grand tradition of Christmas TV repeats, I'm going to re-run last year's again, although I'll throw in the odd Craggus Christmas Cracker here and there as I manage to take in some new festive features. So, every day from the 1st of December to Christmas Eve, I'll be (re)delivering The Craggus' Christmas Countdown, … Continue reading Craggus’ Christmas Countdown Day 1: The Santa Clause (1994)