Ok, let’s start off by saying that I am very happy that this just has a number 2 at the end of it. I am getting fed up with sequels having to have weird unnecessary sub-titles to cover up the fact that they have made so many unnecessary additions to a franchise. Paddington was a 2014 family film that adapted the famous children’s books authored by Michael Bond. That film came out in 2014 at just the right time, so as a result, it exploded and was a massive Box Office success.
Now, obviously a sequel is almost inevitable from that. I was hoping that if a sequel was commissioned it would actually go back to what made the children’s books so memorable. That’s not to say I disliked the first Paddington film, far from it, I actually think it’s a pretty decent well made family film, it kind of reminds me of a lot of the live action family films I went to see when I was small. Not many films like these are made anymore. That being said, however, this really feels like a movie I would have seen when I was small, there is nothing really new or innovative in it. But it’s a nice sweet film.
The sequel has Paul King return to direct and he also shares a co-writing credit with Simon Farnaby who has a credit writing for Horrible Histories. Paul King on the other hand, well he hadn’t done much theatrical work prior to the first Paddington. His previous credits include the Mighty Boosh and the Matt Lucas and David Walliams comedy, Come Fly With Me, it will not surprise you that this humour is significantly toned down for these films. But, Paddington is pretty much of a British Institution now, and unlike many of the works of fiction which I feel get rather overblown in how British they are, I think Paddington has a decent message for a young audience that I think is as relevant now as it was back then. So, how does its sequel turn out.
Paddington 2 takes place a few years after the events of the first film. Paddington Brown, (played by Ben Whishaw) wishes to get a priceless antique pop-up book of London landmarks to give to his aunt Lucy, (played by Imelda Staunton) for her 100th birthday. However, the book is stolen from the antique shop by out of work Broadway actor Phoenix Buchanan (played by Hugh Grant) and Paddington has got the blame and he gets locked up. However, the Brown’s, (played by Hugh Bonnevile, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin) along with their live-in cook, Mrs Bird, (played by Julie Walters), start investigating into Phoenix in order to clear Paddington’s name. However, whilst inside, Paddington tries to make the best of his situation and befriends a friendly cook, named Knuckles McGinty, (played by Brendan Gleeson) and teaches him is aunt’s favourite Marmalade recipe in order to provide the prisoners with better food.
Yes, there is one thing you can say about this film over the previous one,
I also found it weird, this depiction of prison. They go in with this whole “soft at heart” thing and I actually liked it being a message about rehabilitating criminals rather than just locking them up, but it does make you feel weird to think that a couple of these guys might be actual murderers. Yes, try watching the film now with that in your head. I don’t think it’s as bad as when they had the Minions in prison, that one felt like a very counter-productive idea.
Apart from the Brown’s, there’s not that many returning characters. Matt Lucas’s cab driver is nowhere to be seen for example, though many are brought back. The Brown’s are a good cast of characters and it at least feels like their development from the first film has actually stuck, which is more than I can say for Mr Curry, who once again is played by Peter Capaldi, who feels like he has gone completely backwards and purely exists to repeat the same admirable message of “don’t be prejudice against immigrants” the first film had, except in this film, it is hammered in so much that it just doesn’t feel real anymore, in fact it feels rather forced. As a result, it just becomes more annoying because it feels so heavy handed almost as if it’s just to P… off Nigel Farage for saying that he hadn’t seen the first film when it came out. Granted, anything that P….. off that loon is fine by me, but that’s aside from the point.
Ok, what do I like about this film, quite a bit actually. The location shoots are pretty good and the once again the film has a nice charm to it which kind of makes up for a lot of the rougher edges that take you out of the film. The location shots done in Camden Market are fantastic, if you as familiar with this market as I am, the choreography of the chase scene will not make as much sense to you, but I can’t deny it was a very well shot scene.
Also, the cast is fantastic. While most of them don’t get much to do and are borderline extended cameo’s if not cameo’s outright, they do a very good job and are likeable characters. The most prominent new addition to the cast being Brendan Gleeson as Knuckles, the prison cook, who is probably my favourite part of the entire film. Brendan Gleeson is clearly having a ball playing this character and he actually works very well with Ben Whishaw, I have to commend Gleeson for his performance in this film considering he had to act obviously with the CG model in a lot of one on one scenes and he does it very well and it does feel like they are genuinely interacting off each other, something the Alvin and the Chipmunks films and the terrible Smurf films could learn from. Ok, let’s face it, nothing could fix those films! While I have mentioned a few of them the cameo’s also include Jessica Hynes, Ben Miller, Sanjeev Bhaskar as residents of the street as well as some very small cameo’s from the likes of Joanna Lumley and the IT Crowds, Richard Ayoade, whose dry sense of humour really adds to the film during his brief cameo, even if I felt it was a bit of a weird moment. While we are talking about the cast, Hugh Grant playing a pompous British West End actor, gee, I wonder where they got the idea from for that casting! All sarcasm aside, I actually think that Hugh Grant is another one of the best parts of this film. Rather like Nicole Kidman in the first film, his over the top nature really works to the films advantage. I think a lot of the suggestion that his is a “one note actor” has been greatly exaggerated as in his later career he seems to be really pushing the boat out, as noted by both this and the film that he should have received an Oscar nomination for, Florence Foster Jenkins. Seriously, watch Florence Foster Jenkins, it is a fantastic film. Returning cast members that I did really enjoy, Capaldi gives a decent performance if his part is badly written and Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins are still pretty good, plus the child actor is a lot of fun. Julie Walters is given a lot more to do in this film, which is a bonus and I was a huge fan of Jim Broadbent, who has been given and extended role this time around. Though, again, he still is kind of an extended cameo. You may also be surprised to hear that Michael Gambon is back for this film if you are aware of the first one, though, that being said, it’s really for a prologue at the beginning of the film, which feels unnecessary and actually feels like it was a deleted scene from the first one.
The effects are still pretty good. Paddington still feels like he is actually there, which a lot of these CGI kids creations seem to think they don’t have to put effort into and once again, in danger of repeating myself, like the awful Alvin and Chipmunks films and the two awful live action Smurf movies.
The cinematography is also fantastic once again, once again, using and lot of the effects to make the world seem like a dull house, which I greatly appreciated. Plus the costume department did a fantastic job on this film, I have to commend that aspect of it too.
Paddington 2 feels like it is playing it rather safe, but I kind of appreciated it for its charm and its very well acted cast. While I felt there was a lot to be desired by the fact that this felt like too much of a carbon copy as a film, I still think if you liked the first one you will like this one. It at least has a couple of things to stand out from the first one and while it may be a silly film at least it never veers off from the rules of its world. If you have got kids, this ones worth a watch, though I personally felt the first film was better. I also think you won’t be noticing how similar the two films are if it’s been a while since you have seen the first Paddington film, since I re-watched the first film the day before I saw it so it was very fresh in my memory.
Well, that’s it for another review and you’ve got to look forward to next week, as next week I am going to be back with my thoughts on one of the biggest releases of the year, DC’s latest film Justice League.
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