WEEKEND WEB: Paddington 2 is a bear necessity

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Reviewer MIKEY CLARKE is charmed by a duffle coat-wearing bear from darkest Peru...

Paddington provides all the bear necessities in this virtually flawless sequel.

I repeat the same regime before seeing any ‘kids’ film. I’ll be sat at my office desk, convincing myself that I’ll not enjoy something that’s essentially designed for a younger audience. And yet, more so than not, I’ll walk out of the screening with a huge smile on my face, with my inner-child well and truly surfaced.

That was certainly the case with Paddington 2.

Based on the best-selling and internationally-adored series of children’s stories by Michael Bond, our marmalade sandwich-loving hero is back and once again voiced to perfection by Ben Whishaw.

Paddington is happily settled with the Brown family (once again headed by Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins) in Windsor Gardens, where he has become a popular member of the community – spreading joy wherever he goes.

In this sequel to 2014’s surprisingly huge box office hit, our beloved bear wants to get something special for Aunt Lucy’s (voiced by Imelda Staunton) 100th birthday. He decides to get a pop-up book of London’s most famous landmarks, which he purchases from Mr. Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) antiques shop.

While saving up for the book, Paddington has an encounter with a washed-up actor named Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). And yes, Grant has indeed mentioned the irony of this particular role.

The talking bear informs Buchanan of the book that he is saving to buy, which is rumoured to contain extremely valuable information within it. And so, Buchanan steals it, framing Paddington in the process. As a result, the adorable animal is sent to prison. But will he be able to clear his name in time for Aunt Lucy’s birthday?

Sequels rarely live up to their predecessor and I was worried Paddington 2 would suffer the same fate. If anything, this joyous sequel is even better. It’s taken everything that was good about the first and built on it.

The biggest improvement is having a much more entertaining villain. Hugh Grant demonstrates his genius for light comedy as a devious actor fallen on hard times.

He’s clearly having fun with the role, resulting in the audience having more fun watching him. Make sure you stick around for a mid-credit sequence to witness the actor like you’ve never seen him before.

Yet again, Paul King and his co-writer Simon Farnaby have wonderfully caught the playful innocence of Michael Bond’s stories, while adding more than enough adult humour to keep us ‘big kids’ entertained.

King’s genius lies in his ability to tickle our funny bones one minute and pull on our heart strings the next.

You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. Most importantly – you’ll love it! It’s bear-illiant!

Rating: 5/5

Mikey Clarke

PREVIEW: Superheroes rescue DC universe?

There could just be an upturn for DC Comics’ superhero universe with this blockbuster ensemble piece – their Marvel’s Avengers equivalent – with early reviews indicating it’s a lot more fun than the catastrophically disappointing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

The stellar performance of Wonder Woman this summer may have gone some way to allaying fears and adding hope that Warner Bros’ DC series was finally moving in the right direction – and the anticipation level has probably raised an extra notch because of this.

Fuelled by his restored faith in humanity – and inspired by Superman’s (Henry Cavill) selfless sacrifice – Bruce Wayne/Batman enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), to face a new enemy.

Together they assemble a team of meta-humans consisting of Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, Ezra Miller’s The Flash and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg, as they face the powerful threat of Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) and his army of Parademons.

Various characters from the previous DCEU films will pop in for continuity purposes, and Avengers director Joss Whedon has helped with the film’s post-production, as original helmer Zack Snyder (who will remain as the sole credit) sadly had to depart the film late on due to a family tragedy.

So as the ‘league’ unite for the first time in a blockbuster movie, let’s hope the early reviews – despite some still being ‘mixed’ saying the enjoyable superheroes are far superior to the ‘messy’ plot – start to do DC justice.