Paddington 2

Paddington (Paul King, 2017) 2.5/5

With a property like Paddington the Bear, it’s not unfeasible that after the success of the 9x16-Hat-Tip_V1_Paddington-2first 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…

Paddington

Paddington (Paul King, 2014) 4/5

In 1958 Michael Bond created one of the most famous and polite bears. Years later he ispaddington encased and immortalised as a statue in Paddington Station in London. Slightly updated for the contemporary audience and produced by the wizards behind Harry Potter, this is really a treat for children as well as adults alike.

For those of you who were fans of the original Marmalade loving bear (me included) can rest easy, as all of the nostalgia is still there and is aided by some great supporting performances by Ben Whishaw, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Nicole Kidman and Peter Capaldi.

Within this version of the story we get to see a little bit more about Paddington’s backstory, much of it outlining his life in Darkest Peru. This is a great addition and the script increases the charm where his politness and love of all things London is explored through the presence of visiting Geographer Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie).

Eveything you would ever need from a Christmas film is here, a sense of family, snow, an evil-but-likeable – villain and near the end of the film, snow. The narrative is also actually very creative, and Liz Barron’s special effects add greatly to the richness of the storytelling.

In sum if you are in need of some Holiday cheer this December, Paddington will certainly infuse you with some very much needed – and polite – laughs.