Based on the children’s book series by Michael Bond and following up the successful first film, which I haven't see yet but soon will, Paddington 2 is as sweet and good natured as its lead character, a young, English-speaking Peruvian bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) who lives with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens. The script by director Paul King and Simon Farnaby is as well, which is why the film is so wonderful.
Paddington wants to get his Aunt Lucy, who still resides in in Peru, a birthday present. He decides upon a pop-up book of London because she had always wanted to see it. There's a marvelous fantasy sequence where Paddington and his aunt, who appear three-dimensional, make their way through the paper cut-outs of the city, which appear two-dimensional.
Unbeknownst to most, the book also serves as a treasure map, causing it to be stolen by past-his-prime actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). Paddington came upon the scene and gave chase, but didn't recognize the disguised Buchanan. He is ultimately blamed and jailed since there are no other suspects.
While on the inside, Paddington's character and his knowledge of how to make marmalade lead to him making friends in the right places. On the outside, The Brown family works to clear Paddington's name and eventually discover Buchanan is the culprit. But there's little time to stop him and prove Paddington's innocence as Buchanan is all set to take the train and his new treasure away.
Paddington is earnest and sincere, as is the film, which is why it all works so well. There are a lot of great messages for children and adults, about how to treat others for example, but they don't feel like overt lessons forced upon the viewer. They come across naturally in Paddington's interactions. He is also similar to a silent comedian, causing delightful mayhem wherever he goes, resulting in one funny sequence after another.
The script offers details about the characters, who are brought to life by the talented cast, such as Mary Brown (Sally Hawkins) practicing to swim the English Channel, that don't seem important early on but has significance. The only knock on the script is the deus ex machina that saved the day, similar to Han Solo's change of heart in Star Wars, because the characters' motivations seem solely to be that of the writers. But it was so refreshing the film wasn't filled with crudeness or fart jokes which occurs in too many children's films.
The video has been given a 1080p encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio: 2.39:1. Erik Wilson's cinematography is treated well as the colors appear in vibrant hues across the spectrum, including pink which is the basis of a funny joke. Blacks are inky and there is very good shadow delineation in the night scenes. There is great detail on display, particularly the texture of Paddington's hair, and with the CGI work, which find the bear melding very well alongside the live-action actors.
While available in Dolby Atmos, I listened in Dolby TrueHD 7.1. The dialogue was clear throughout. Dario Marianelli's score filled the surrounds as did the ambiance, no matter what was happening, from big action scenes to quieter moments. Objects were heard moving around the sound field for an immersive experience. The track has a wide dynamic range and the elements were mixed together well.
The disc is jammed with HD extras. Paddington: The Bear Truth (5 min) is about the character and bringing him to life, including getting to see his stand-in Lauren Barrand. How to Make a Marmalade Sandwich (3 min) presents Aunt Lucy's secret marmalade recipe with scenes from the film. Music Video with Phoenix Buchanan (2 min) is the video from the closing credits. The Magical Mystery of Paddington's Pop-Up Book (3 min) is a look at the item that drives the story and what it represents. The Browns and Paddington: A Special Bond (6 min) features the main human cast. Knuckles: A Fistful of Marmalade (3 min) looks at the gruff character. The (Once) Famous Faces of Phoenix Buchanan (4 min) is about Hugh Grant's character and performance. There is also a commentary by director/co-writer Paul King. It's awesome that he starts by warning off those who wouldn't want to lose the magic of film or Paddington. Also a great touch not to include Whishaw in the extras.
Paddington 2 is a standout film for 2018 and should be appear on year-end lists. It is enjoyable for families to watch together or anyone to watch on their own. The Blu-ray delivers a quality high-def experience and is filled with plenty of extras for those who want to learn more about the film's creation.
Own Paddington 2 on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on April 24, or Own It Now on Digital!