Meewella | Critic

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Tag: Jim Broadbent

QuickView: Paddington 2 (2017)

Paddington 2 quad poster

“Aunt Lucy said: if we’re kind and polite, the world will be right.”


With Paddington serving as an origin story for the Peruvian bear in London, its sequel is able to launch straight into a delightful adventure that will leave both children and adults beaming. If the original was an immigrant story, Paddington 2 highlights the importance ⁠— and difficulty ⁠— of maintaining contact with one’s roots. It is less dependent on Hugh Bonneville than its predecessor, with Hugh Grant hamming up a mercurial actor talking to himself in outlandish disguises, whilst Brendan Gleeson is the intimidating inmate that the diminutive bear must win over when wrongly incarcerated. Those prison scenes are some of the film’s best, showcasing Paddington’s charming openness as more than simple naiveté. The unrecognisably neighbourly version of London can be harder to swallow than a talking bear, but the film never dwells too long on its more saccharine elements. The style may be less fresh than last time, but there is still plenty of creativity on display like Paddington waltzing through the illustrations of a pop-up book. The rapid pacing also benefits from having most of the key characters already established, though it makes space for moments of quieter emotion and humour too. The result is simply the best live-action family adventure in years.


QuickView: Paddington (2014)

“Mrs Brown says that in London everyone is different, and that means anyone can fit in. I think she must be right — because although I don’t look like anyone else, I really do feel at home.”


Ben Whishaw voices the marmalade-loving bear from darkest Peru with an adorable charm and naiveté that Colin Firth (previously considered for the role) would have struggled to bring. Paddington is a timely immigrant story about how we all benefit from embracing our differences. Much of this rests on Hugh Bonneville as Mr Brown, as he moves from initial mistrust to concern for his family to ultimate acceptance. The film is structured as a caper story culminating in an escape sequence with enjoyable nods for adult viewers to franchises like Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible. Of particular note is the surprising calypso soundtrack (the music of Notting Hill immigrants when Michael Bond wrote his books), with a band appearing around London to mirror Paddington’s mood.


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (2005)

director: Stephen Frears
starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent
running time: 140 mins
rating: PG

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The WardrobeI have intentionally not re-read the book prior to viewing the film as I wished to experience it anew, while hoping for the story to rekindle the same emotions it had as a child. As comparisons with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings are inevitable I shall not shy away from them but would offer as a warning that this is a very different film and a viewer who approaches it with the same expectations will be sorely disappointed. Equally, though it be a magical children’s story, it is something vastly predating Harry Potter and bears little resemblance below the surface. Rather it is something of a hybrid, epic children’s fantasy, in a way that will only truly become evident if the franchise does extend to further films (all seven books have been optioned, although The Horse and His Boy seems an unlikely candidate for a film).

The four Pevensie children, Lucy [Georgie Henley], Edmund [Skandar Keynes], Peter [William Moseley] and Susan [Anna Popplewell], are evacuated from London during WWII. They find themselves in a large stately home belonging to a reclusive professor [Jim Broadbent]. While exploring they discover a mysterious wardrobe that leads them into the magical world of Narnia. While marvelling at the wonderous creatures they soon discover, much to their surprise, their coming has been foretold signalling the end of the battle between the evil White Witch and Aslan, Narnia’s true king.

The children enter Narnia near the lamp postGiven several television adaptations it is easy to regard this film as somewhat redundant. However, the impressive production values and Weta’s involvement in bringing the creatures to life makes this a much easier world in which to lose oneself. Nevertheless one must still approach it with an open childlike imagination in order to experience its full effect. It remains very true to C.S. Lewis’ book in both style and content. Although changes are evident, the Biblical imagery, particularly that embodied in Aslan, remains both intact and prominent.

The children’s performances are all decent, if not particularly noteworthy. Georgie Henley’s open-mouthed awe avoids being overly cutesie, while Peter and Edmund’s brotherly fighting seems a little rigid. In short you won’t find yourself cringing as in the first Potter instalment, nor will you be blown away. The secondary actors fare better, particularly James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus, the fawn. Liam Neeson voices Aslan with sufficient gravitas, but the majestic lion still seems a little subdued in the film, perhaps because we see him from an outside perspective, rather than through the children’s feelings as in the book. Equally the witch, though suitably manipulative and chilling, seems to be lacking in presence.

Mr. TumnusNarnia itself feels less expansive than I would have liked, perhaps due to the lack of the lingering, sweeping panoramic shots of The Fellowship of the Ring. Despite this, it feels inherently magical from the first moment Lucy scrambles into its snow-covered forest. The soundtrack provides an enchanting accompaniment in the first half, becoming somewhat more routine further in. The battle sequences showcase Weta’s work with polar bear-drawn chariots and dozens of centaurs charging into battle. These are not the dark clashes of LOTR, however, but rather the epic fantasy battles of a child’s imagination with shining armour and bloodless swords.

Shots like the lamppost ground it well for those familiar with the book, while others may feel there are too many unanswered questions, such as Aslan’s disappearance and the witch’s origins. It is important to remember that these remained mysteries in the book too, answered only in the penultimate instalment, the prequel The Magician’s Nephew. This highlights that the faithful adaptation from the book is both its strength and its weakness.

rating: 3/4

"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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