Paddington is the one about the bear from darkest Peru who came to live with the Brown family in London, whilst having a fetish for marmalade sandwiches.
From his origins in book form in 1958, to the TV series I remember, created in 1975 and repeated for many years afterwards, into the early ’80 which is when I watched them. However, the bear also returned in two US adaptations, in 1989 and 1997, the latter running for even longer than the original series.
Back to this movie, though, and Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) develops an early obsession with London, following an accidental visit from explorer Montgomery Clyde (Tim Downie), and at the same time also has a penchant for marmalade, especially when putting it on sandwiches, and his Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon) tells him how he should always keep a spare marmalade sandwich under his hat in case of emergencies.
After heading to London, he’s soon taken into the home of Mr and Mrs Brown (Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins), while Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi is nosy neighbour Mr Curry, and Nicole Kidman, as Millicent, has evil intent on her mind…
Any semblance of plot, of course, is secondary to the CGI and special effects, but everything on display is clean and polished to perfection. There’s plenty of charm onscreen and it’ll be a delight for young children, but even gave me the occasional belly laugh, particularly with the satnav direction “In 100 yards, bear left”, and you can imagine what follows.
It’s amusing how they attribute human traits in animals. Okay, so this is nothing new, but here we have Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) hobbling around on a walking stick while, moments before, she was abseiling down a tree quicker than Bear Grylls! (to continue the hairy creature analogy)
The cast is a “Who’s Who” of British talent, and Ben Whishaw makes for a far better voice of Paddington than Colin Firth could ever have done, as he was initially attached to the movie, but although he sort-of provided voices for the initial trailer, he reportedly later took himself OFF the project. No actor in their right mind would do that, so I think it was just a big publicity stunt to get a big name in there, even though we already have the fantastic Hugh Bonneville, and Sally Hawkins has been in many a film lately including last year’s Godzilla reboot.
Some random observations about Paddington’s first film…
- No-one notices the fact that there’s a bear amongst them, as he arrives in London, because they’re too busy with their own lives.
- Personally, my motto for London is: “Nice to visit. Nice to leave.”
- Why does Paddington share his last marmalade sandwich with a pigeon? They’re just flying rats!
- When, as shown in the trailer, Paddington ‘surfs’ down the stairs whilst in the bath, how come it suddenly wasn’t plumbed in?
- And didn’t the Browns get their house tidied up incredibly quickly after the bath-surfing incident? It was all perfectly fine by the next morning!
- Paddington predictably gets into a zillion scrapes, with no-one being at all fazed that they’re addressing a bear, even though they want to keep him under wraps.
- Of course, UKIP would try to ban Paddington from coming to the UK because he’s not British, but perhaps Nigel Farage might make an exception for the bear if he got a round of drinks in?
- When Paddington writes letters to his Aunt Lucy, who delivers them?
- I’ve always lived with the philosophy that of giving someone a “Paddington Bear hard stare”, which is what the bear does when he encounters someone with bad manners… which is basically every other driver on the road!
- Oh, and as you can see, if you thought the Ben Whishaw-starring Cloud Atlas had a complex plot, Paddington excels beyond that one! (I jest)
- I really enjoyed the music, and occasional appearances from the Calypso band “D Lime”, who sing “London Is The Place For Me”.
- And since Paddington took around £35m at the UK box office during its initial run, you can be sure that a sequel will follow.
The film is presented in the original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical ratio and is in 1080p high definition, and looks crisp and sharp, even managing to make London look clean and tidy! I wonder if the sequel could do the same for Manchester? Naturally, Paddington’s world is bright and colourful and there are zero defects getting in the way of that.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and while there are special effects appearing throughout, you won’t be dodging the effects from split-surround audio as there wasn’t anything particular standing out in that field. What is present, however, sounds perfectly fine.
The extras menu makes it look like there’s a few good things to get stuck into, but out of the four, the first three – Meet The Characters (2:22), From Page To Screen (3:04) and When A Bear Comes To Stay (1:53) – are so perfunctory, they’ll have ended before they began, as cast and crew chat the usual about the film they’ve just made.
With a Gallery accompanying this, containing a mere 25 images, it’s nothing to get excited about. The whole thing screams “Special Edition coming at Christmas”, when they want to make you buy it twice.
The menu mixes clips from the film with a short piece of the theme. There are subtitles in English, and when it comes to the chaptering, I feel one should come every five minutes on average. Studiocanal had upped their game to 32 for Robocop‘s reboot, but have gone back to the low standard of 12, here. Why??
Running time: 95 minutes
Released: March 23rd 2015
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K))
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Paul King
Producer: David Heyman
Screenplay: Paul King (based on a story by Hamish McColl and Paul King, based on the character, Paddington Bear, created by Michael Bond)
Music: Nick Urata
Paddington (voice): Ben Whishaw
Henry Brown: Hugh Bonneville
Mary Brown: Sally Hawkins
Millicent: Nicole Kidman
Judy Brown: Madeleine Harris
Jonathan Brown: Samuel Joslin
Mrs Bird: Julie Walters
Mr Curry: Peter Capaldi
Grant: Kayvan Novak
Uncle Pastuzo (voice): Michael Gambon
Aunt Lucy (voice): Imelda Staunton
Montgomery Clyde: Tim Downie
Agatha Clyde: Madeleine Worrall
Young Millicent: Lottie Steer
Head Geographer: Geoffrey Palmer
Stenographer: Theresa Watson
Kindly Gentleman: Michael Bond
Joe: Matt Lucas
Tony: Jude Wright
Underground Ticket Inspector: Eddie Nestor
Dog Owner: Iain Mitchell
Mr Gruber: Jim Broadbent
Master Gruber: Jonathan Derbyshire
Master Gruber’s Aunt: Mary Roscoe
Andre the Thief: Matt King
Policeman: Dominic Coleman
Class Teacher: Llewella Gideon
Pupil: Tarik Blake
Trader: Ross Boatman
Paddington Station Security Guard: Steve Oram
Paddington Station Security Guard: Tom Meeten
Geographers’ Guild Receptionist: Alice Lowe
Barry: Simon Farnaby
Geographers (Present Day): Will Smith, Toby Williams and Catherine Shepherd
Buckingham Palace Sentry: Javier Marzan
Morgan Clyde: Sean Bridgeman
Desk Sergeant: Justin Edwards
Marjorie Clyde: Cleo Sylvestre
Second Geographer: Gus Brown
Third Geographer: Rufus Jones
Fourth Geographer: Kenneth Hadley
Fifth Geographer: David McKail
Sixth Geographer: James Bachman
Natural History Museum Security Guard: Steve Edge
Judge: Barry Ashton
Petting Zoo Keeper: Hamish MacColl
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.