Plot: What’s it about?
A bear from Peru is forced to find a new home in London after tragedy strikes. This is no ordinary bear, either. He walks, talks and seems to be well mannered despite, you know, being a bear. He meets a nice family at a train station who eventually agree to take him in while he searches for a permanent residence. The family that takes him in is the Brown family. The father Henry (Hugh Bonneville) is hesitant at first, but at the insistence of his wife and children, goes against his better judgement. Paddington is the bear, and he is voiced by Ben Whishaw. We see some of Paddington’s daily routine (He cleans his ears with a toothbrush) before we get into the central story of he and Henry searching for the explorer who found his aunt and uncle. A story like this wouldn’t feel right without a proper villain and we get just that. Nicole Kidman plays Millicent. She is a taxidermist who has other plans for Paddington. Kidman doesn’t show up until about halfway through the film, but she does a good job with her part even though the villain is clichéd.
Paddington does have a lot working in its favor. The CGI bear looks quite nicely and blends seamlessly with the rest of the story, never appearing awkward or fake looking. While the humor may not be the wittiest around, it was still nice to see a family film avoid low-brow humor and potty jokes; it’s a fairly clean film. It may not be something I return to, but the young ones should enjoy it, especially if they’ve had their fill of animated films lately. The story, while far from original at least moves along nicely, rarely stalling. I was reminded a bit of Stuart little with a CGI creation in a live-action film. Let’s face it: a bear is a lot easier on the eyes than a little rat, but that’s neither here nor there. At the end of the day, Paddington is a perfectly serviceable family film. It’s nothing spectacular, but you there are worse ways to spend some 90 odd minutes of your time.
Video: How’s it look?
Presented in a 2.39:1 AVC HD transfer, Paddington actually looks pretty spot on. Our main character is CGI of course (unless there’s a real talking bear out there, but I kind of doubt it) and it looks lovable and lifelike, complete with fuzzy hair and the like. The re-creation of London is nice as well with rich color tones and plenty of razor sharp detail. And it’s always nice to gawk at Nicole Kidman, at least from my perspective. This is a lively and warm color palette and should leave audiences pleased.
Audio: How’s it sound?
There are a few moments in the film that are actually pretty robust, though the vast majority of the movie is orchestra and vocals. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s a very nice DTS HD Master Audio sound mix all around. Dialogue is faithfully reproduced and oozes out of the center channel with no distortion. Surrounds offer up a nice compliment to the front stage, where most of the action takes place. Again, it’s an above average mix and one that’s certain to please.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Meet the Characters – Pretty much that, a brief look at the main players in the film.
- When a Bear Comes to Stay – A fairly simple and straight-forward look at some of the shenanigans that our little, lovable bear gets involved with.
- From Page to Screen – The technical details about bringing the bear to the big screen, with the digital work, voiceovers and so forth.
- Music Video – “Shine” by Gwen Stefani and Pharrell Williams, also includes the lyrics on the screen.
- The Making of “Shine” with Gwen Stefani & Pharrell Williams – Essentially that.
- DVD/Digital HD Copy
The Bottom Line
Far from original and a bit too straightforward, Paddington is still a decent enough way to spend your time. I think the most important thing is that the young ones will appreciate it, and sometimes that is all that matters. It’s at least worthy of a rental.