Review: PADDINGTON (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Review: PADDINGTON (2014)

This big-screen debut of PADDINGTON embraces its charmingly simple approach blessed with a superb cast and wonderful visual flair.

The famous Paddington Bear has already been around since 1958, and he has appeared in a number of picture books, animated TV series and not to forget, a popular stuffed toy. But despite his widespread popularity, he never has his chance appearing in the cinematic medium until HARRY POTTER series producer David Heyman and director Paul King finally brought the iconic bear into his first-ever big screen adventure titled as PADDINGTON. The result is as good as enjoying a marmalade sandwich.

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

The movie begins with a small bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who lives with Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon) and Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) at the deep jungle of the darkest Peru, and they particularly love marmalade. One day, they lost their home when an earthquake strikes and his uncle is unfortunately killed in the disaster. His aunt encourages him to go to London to search for a new home, while she moves into a retirement home instead. After a long solo journey, he finally reaches London, but trapped in the train station with no place to go until he meets the Brown family (Hugo Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin), who later named him Paddington and takes him home for temporary shelter. Meanwhile, an evil taxidermist named Millicent (Nicole Kidman) finds out there is a rare Peruvian bear in London and determines to capture him at all cost so she can stuffed him as part of her museum collection. 

THE GOOD STUFF
 
From the amusing prologue that begins with a black-and-white newsreel of explorer Montgomery Clyde's (Tim Downie) discovery of the Peruvian bears at the jungle, to the colourful adventure set in the picturesque London, PADDINGTON is blessed with plenty of inventive visual panache that director Paul King has successfully brought into his big screen adaptation. In fact, his style of eccentric visuals reminds me the work of Wes Anderson, who recently directed THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL earlier this year.

The screenplay, in which King co-wrote with Hamish McColl, is breezy and fun with a satisfying amount of old-school charm and contemporary humour. The pace is fast and efficient, while thankfully devoid of preachy remarks often seen in today's family movies.

Technical craft is top-notch, with Gary Williamson's vibrant production design and Nick Urata's delightful score as well as the movie's soundtrack (comprising of great calypso songs from D Lime and Tobago Crusoe, and iconic pop songs such as James Brown's I Got You (I Feel Good), Lionel Richie's Hello and Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild) are both praiseworthy. Kudos also go to the state-of-the-art special effects for its meticulous CGI creation of Paddington where every fur, facial expression and body movement is astonishingly lifelike.

The mostly British cast is spot-on, with Ben Whishaw (currently well known for his role as the young Q in SKYFALL and next year's SPECTRE), who replaced Colin Firth in the last minute, delivers a lovely voice performance as Paddington. Hugh Bonneville (TV's Downton Abbey) is genuinely funny and heartfelt as a strict but loving father who cares a lot about analysing the risk factor, but gradually learns how to have fun with people around him. Sally Hawkins is similarly excellent as the kindly and understanding wife, while Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin have their fair share of moments playing the young children of the Brown family. With a terrific-looking platinum blonde bob and a sexy safari gear, Nicole Kidman is not only served as an eye-catching beauty, but also manage to pull off a devilishly fun performance as Millicent.

As for the rest -- including Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Tim Downie, Julie Walters as the Brown family's housekeeper Mrs. Bird, Peter Capaldi as the nosy neighbour Mr. Curry and Jim Broadbent as an antique shop owner Mr. Gruber -- are all doing well with their respective performances.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
The elaborate mishap at the bathroom where Paddington is having trouble using some of the toiletries and bathroom equipments; the brief but wonderful scene where Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent) tells the story of his childhood through the visual representation of a toy train and a boy in the miniature form; and a hilarious chase scene involving a skateboard, an umbrella and a double-decker bus.

THE BAD STUFF
  
If there is a complaint about this movie, I would say the director could have elaborated more on Paddington's comedic moments dealing with unfamiliar everyday situations.

FINAL WORDS


PADDINGTON isn't a perfect movie, but ideal enough as an appealing family-friendly movie for both kids and adults alike. Look out for a blink-or-you'll-miss cameo appearance of the Paddington Bear creator himself, Michael Bond earlier in the movie where he plays a man sitting in a restaurant and raises a glass to Paddington who passes by in a taxi.

* This review is written courtesy from TGV press screening *

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