Paddington (Paul King, 2017) 2.5/5
With a property like Paddington the Bear, it’s not unfeasible that after the success of the first film, there would be more on the way. The magic of the first film from its careful introduction of key characters, the merging of 21st Century society and key landmarks of contemporary London made for an exceptional family film. The sequel here tries to emulate this with some handy cameo’s, however it never really reaches the heady heights of it’s predecessor.
The story here follows our lovely bear getting all caught up with the law and arrested for stealing a pop up book in the heart of Portobello Road. Whilst in prison he meets some colourful prisoners headed by the great Brendan Gleeson as ‘Knuckles McGinty’ the prison chef. Stepping into Nicole Kidman’s shoes for the role of villain here is Hugh Grant who portrays fallen actor ‘Phoenix Buchanan’ who is using the book to romp across London to discover untold treasure.
Unfortunately, instead of being sinister, Grant is a tad annoying here. With Kidman, she was more restrained in her delivery. Whereas here, we have a more panto like figure with not much substance. Also, the ‘twee-ness’ of the first film added to the charm, whilst here it almost suffocates everything and everyone at every turn. Although, this being said, the animation in parts of this film is spectacular and really adds to the roots of this character.
However, everything just seems to be really rushed here, the inclusion of more neighbours doesn’t help. Sanjeev Bhaskar, Ben Miller and Jessica Hynes are squished into probably about 10 mins of screen time and add very little. By supersizing recognisable faces, we lose our main character altogether. Of course, Paddington will always be likeable and Ben Whishaw is still on top form portraying his earnestness and exuding charm in the process.
In sum, Paddington 2 is still a charming adventure, however it just doesn’t have the streamlined appeal of the first film. It seems the bear has become a little bit bloated from eating all of that marmalade…