Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Review: Paddington 2

Paddington 2
Cert: PG / 103 mins / Dir. Paul King / Trailer

Everyone's favourite impeccably mannered Peruvian is back, in a follow-up adventure to his 2014 debut, this time on a quest to by beloved Aunt Lucy a vintage pop-up book of London for her birthday. But when a washed-up actor steals the antique, framing Paddington as the culprit, the bear finds himself in prison and has to clear his name.

Ben Wishaw's voice-work for the title role is seamless and utterly delightful once again, but director Paul King conjures standout performances from Hugh Grant as unstable narcissistic thespian Phoenix Buchanan, and Brendan Gleeson as impatient incarcerated chef Knuckles McGinty. Grant is in full comedic flow, happy to embrace the role and poke gentle fun at his own career (indeed, profession), whereas Gleeson succeeds by playing his part completely straight, as if he were acting opposite a human rather than a CGI bear. To a slightly lesser degree, the entire cast*1 do this of course. Indeed, like last time, the genius-stroke of the film is that everyone treats Paddington as a three-dimensional character (whether they're 'on his side' or not), rather than being freaked out by an actual talking bear*2. It's this sincerity which is passed down to the audience, and the central character becomes inherently believable.

Paddington 2 is a fantastic, fun adventure; but it's predecessor was more than that. The sequel's story itself is a little more pedestrian and doesn't carry the same social or emotional weight as the first movie (Peter Capaldi's reprise in particular feels like a tacked-on callback, and some of the first-act incidental scripting is nothing short of cringeworthy for a film that's so naturalistic everywhere else). While there are moments of brilliance in the film, these come more from setpieces and comic timing than The Message. But the heart of the film is still a young person who manages to find the good in almost everyone, a valuable example for audiences of all ages.

Paddington is the bear we need, even if he's the one we probably don't deserve...

So, watch this if you enjoyed?

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
For an afternoon or evening out with the family, absolutely.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I think so, although its target is a lot broader this time around.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
No, but that's not to put Paddington 2 down.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Blue Five pilot Farns Monsbee is in this*3, as is that young lady we met ever so briefly on Naboo.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 A roster which is, it really must be noted, absolute textbook Nina Gold casting, with the notable omission of one Bill Nighy. So I'm just going to assume that curmudgeonly Bill absolutely hates Paddington Bear until he explicitly states otherwise. I think that's fair..? [ BACK ]

*2 And it's a credit to the finished product that I was sucked in to the point where I started picking apart the logic in the climactic train-chase. At one point, two separate steam trains are running on parallel tracks out of Paddington Station towards Bristol (leaving from different platforms), then seconds later they're on the same line (the only line, so lord knows where this stretch of track is meant to be). Who's controlling the track-points? What about all the red-signals they're clearly barging through? Skipping over the viaduct which doesn't exist on that line (that section was filmed in Yorkshire) and the fact that a high-speed chase would have to go through Reading station full of commuters at around 7am, young Paddington ends up trapped in a separated carriage underwater. We see the water level rising and the bear keeping afloat as he rises toward the roof, then the camera cuts to Sally Hawkins' Mary, who's swimming down to rescue him. Only as she approaches the padlocked carriage door with the 10" gap and a bear on the other side, the water has suddenly filled the box completely (as it would with that gap) without us seeing the air escaping before the carriage had even hit the river-bed. Will no-one think of the physics? Will no-one think of the signal controllers having the worst fucking morning of their lives as lights and klaxons go off all around them? It was then I remembered that I wasn't watching a documentary. So well done, Paddington 2. [ BACK ]

*3 And much like in the first Paddington movie (at the time, at least), isn't credited on IMDB for the appearance. Although he does at least get his writing-entry. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad Paddington has retained his charm. So many things get 'modernised' and spoiled.