Review: Paddington 2

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When I went to see Paddington 2 with my family, my expectations were low. I was expecting to come out with my mother jolly and happy but for me to have thought “well, that was pretty standard”. I was expecting to go in and see a sweet and simple film, not necessarily bad, but with a focus on cashing in on the overwhelming success of the original. I am glad to tell you that the sequel is very much better.

As with the original the film uses a lot of previous Paddington short stories. It is quite obvious that these stories have all been told before, but they are funny and definitely hold an important part of the story.

The cinematography in this film was pretty standard and certainly not the main focus of this film. This isn’t a film like Star Wars where visually stunning effects are the main selling point. Having said this, the animation of the bear is amazing and worth watching all on its own, even without  the story. It is extraordinary what can be achieved with animation when the right people use it: in certain close-ups, you can even see the glisten of water in his eyes! Despite this, there were some scenarios where the animation paled in comparison to the rest of the effects. For example, the ending scene with the train: the use of a green screen in the background was not great, although I don’t think I would have noticed so much had the bear not been so beautifully animated. The lighting in the film is also brilliant, really enhancing the mood. Just one example of how lighting is used in the storytelling can be seen when Paddington is in prison and the lighting grey and grim. But the longer Paddington is there, the brighter and happier the place becomes. Meanwhile, at home, because Paddington isn’t there, the lighting reverts to the grey and grim like the prison had been before he arrived.

The plot is simple, but it is done in a way that is clever and gives you moments where you feel for the bear. When he is in prison, you can clearly tell how out of place he is. It does make you feel terrible seeing such an innocent character in such a guilty place. It just goes to show that you don’t need to have all of the main character’s family die, or for them to be going through some out-of-this-world trauma to feel sorry for them. Another great thing I loved about the plot was the fact that most parts of the film have a purpose. Most good films won’t add in a detail for no reason, they often make a hint at something just small enough for you to forget it a few minutes later, but just big enough so that you remember it when they use that detail later in the film. This is done quite a bit throughout the film, but it is used loads at the very end with driving the train, swimming and all the rest tying in nicely to the final ending.

Another aspect of this film which makes this simple plot a brilliantly told story is acting. The cast is truly first class. Whilst a couple of actors such as Peter Capaldi weren’t really in it much and the child actors for the Browns were also a bit flat, it is the centrally focused cast who really shine. Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins were brilliant as Mr. and Mrs. Brown. Brendan Gleeson was excellent at portraying the angry, silly and secretly insecure  “Knuckles” who I’m sure was just as entertaining for the adults as he was for the kids. But best by far was Ben Whishaw. They really couldn’t have chosen a better person for Paddington; his acting sounds so innocent, just like Paddington should sound. This makes his portrayal of the character believable and is one of the things which really make this a great story.