A Film Review: ‘Paddington’ (2014)

Paddington is the 2014 film based on the classic children’s books by Michael Bond. The movie, directed by Paul King stars a wide variety of well-known actors from Hugh Bonneville to Jim Broadbent. As the film opens we see some black and white documentary footage of a British explorer studying a rare breed of bear in the forests of darkest Peru. This opening scene is a nice addition to the film, giving us a slice of back-story on the young bear; as he, his Uncle Pastuzo and Aunt Lucy develop a taste for marmalade. Within these early sequences, we hear the wonderful voice performances of Michael Gambon and Imelda Staunton whilst witnessing the sophisticated special effects which create every nose-twitch and fur-bristle that brings the bears to life.

When the British explorer leaves, he announces that they will always be welcome in England before bidding a fond farewell to the trio of bears. Four decades later with the support of his aunt the young bear decides to capitalise upon the explorer’s invitation.

After arriving on English soil with a marmalade sandwich tucked under his hat for emergencies, the young bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw, best known for his role as in ‘Skyfall’) waits at the train station for some generous people to give him a home.         He finds these kind humans in the form of the Browns; paranoid patriarch Mr Brown, (Hugh Bonneville), soft-hearted, artistic mother (Sally Hawkins) and their two children. After naming him Paddington after the station in which he was found, they take him back to their house where he begins to wreak inadvertent havoc.

The film was a light-hearted piece of family cinema with a powerful cast. The short but memorable performance of Matt Lucas as the comical cab-driver and Julie Walters’ as the eccentric Mrs Byrd added a nice injection of brightness. The filmmakers showed magnificent attention to detail in a few smart background touches.  Despite this, it lacked a certain warmth that was over-compensated for by an extravagant budget and weak plotlines, including Nicole Kidman’s disappointing performance as the evil taxidermist.

Overall it was a decent film, however the attempt to capture the original charm of the stories with spectacular CGI was rather underwhelming, but let’s not be too serious, after all, it’s Paddington Bear.

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One thought on “A Film Review: ‘Paddington’ (2014)

  1. I seem to have adapted to the role in life of playing Devils Advocate on your blogs, George 🙂 Good review, although I’d be a little more generous than you, I feel. I’ll admit to being a huge fan of the Paddington movie – I’d feared the worst, especially after seeing some of the particularly underwhelming initial CGI tests, but ended up enjoying it way more than I’d expected. For a film that was – let’s face it – an introduction to the character for the vast majority of the audience, it did it well. I found it thoroughly charming and it captured the essence of the books and the seventies TV series very well. Nicole Kidman happily chewed the scenery and did her best in a film where she was just relegated to the role of to introducing the audience to Paddington. And some of the gags had me genuinely howling with laughter, which I don’t expect from a kids film 🙂 The Matt Lucas gag playing on the stereotype of driving past every bit of London scenery was utter genius, and I’m surprised nobody has thought of it before.

    I’m pleased it did well, because it’ll make a nice change to have a successful kids franchise in an industry dominated by Young adult stories 🙂

    *Does a Paddington bear stare at you until you admit it had warmth* 😉

    Like

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