review by Bobby Blakey
One of the most iconic children’s characters of all time is Paddington Bear. There have been numerous iterations of the loveable marmalade loving bear including the 1975 stop motion / 2D animated drawing series that ran on various outlets as well as the animate series The Adventures of Paddington Bear. In 2015 the loveable bear finally hit the big screen in Paddington starring Ben Winshaw, Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Julie Waters, Samuel Joslin, Madeleine Harris, Michael Gambon, and Imelda Staunton. Now the next adventure of the marmalade loving bear is here with Paddington 2 with all the original cast and the addition of Hugh Grant, but does it capture the same fun of the first film or should it go back to the jungles of Peru?
Paddington 2 follows Paddington who is happily settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, where he has become a popular member of the community, spreading joy and marmalade wherever he goes. While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday, Paddington spots a unique pop-up book in Mr. Gruber's antique shop, and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. But when the book is stolen, it's up to Paddington and the Browns to unmask the thief. I have always been a big fan of Paddington, but with the track record of these kinds of live action films I was really surprised how great the first film was. I was hoping for another adventure but at the same time worried it would either fail to capture the magic of the first one or end up just being a retread. Thankfully this next chapter is not only great it is even better than the first one.
All the returning cast are great with each bringing their own heart to the story. The Brown family has fully accepted Paddington in as one of their own as has the community. I can’t lie it was so heartwarming to hear him refer to himself as Paddington Brown showing his acceptance into his new life. The story steps things up with not only offering up more of the zany antics, but taking it out of the Brown home and right into prison. The idea is silly and shouldn’t work, but thanks to the great writing and loveable prisoners led by the always excellent Brendan Gleeson you can’t help but buy into it all. Hugh Grant’s villain is excellent with him clearly having a blast hamming it up and taking on a variety of funny personas right up until the very end.
While everyone here is great it is Ben Winshaw as Paddington that is the real heart of it all. You never question this bear wandering around and living among the people and that is mostly due to him being so charming. The CGI is so well done you feel his emotions both good and bad in his eyes, but you add his voice performance and you cannot help but love the marmalade loving bear. If this level of production and storytelling stays the course I cannot wait to see more adventures with Paddington, but if not at least we have to excellent films to revisit time and again.
In addition to the best reviewed animated film of all time, this release includes numerous bonus features including commentary and featurettes that take fans behind bringing the beloved character to life once again. Whip up a batch of marmalade and grab your copy of Paddington 2 available now on March 27th and then on Blu-ray and DVD on April 24th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.