First look at Paddington: a family-friendly action movie
Before any footage was shown, we were warned that some of the footage was unfinished, but the distinction between the polished and unpolished CGI was easily apparent. From what we saw – and the various trailers available online now – 2014’s Paddington is a little more grizzly than his illustrated counterpart.
His actions and animations are equally ursine, devouring cake in mere seconds and letting out an impressive roar in a scene in which he first sits down with unwilling minder Mr Brown. He’s hardly ferocious however, and Paddington fans will be pleased to know that the character has retained most of the polite, childlike qualities they’ve come to know and love.
The story itself seems to fall somewhere between Elf and 101 Dalmations. Upon meeting Paddington, the Brown family appear to have mixed feelings, and Mr Brown in particular seems keen to offload poor Paddington as quickly as possible.
But as Paddington and his adoptive family bungle around London, Nicole Kidman’s Millicent, bringing to mind a similarly exaggerated Cruella De Ville, has more sinister intentions for the bear. Kidman herself seems plenty wicked for now, but it’s a little early to tell whether she’ll be a well-rounded character or just one-note wicked.
For the most part, Paddington seems to be filled with the exact type of family-friendly action you’d expect, with preposterous chase scenes and drawn-out physical comedy taking centre stage. There is one particular standout scene, however, in which the always excellent Jim Broadbent regales the Browns with a tale from his childhood, while we see that very story played out across miniature trains and hardback books on his character’s coffee table. It’s hardly groundbreaking cinema, but stylistically, it makes for a refreshing change.
You can’t tell a Paddington story without London, and director Paul King’s version of the capital appears to be a version 2014, but with 1950s values. On his first trip across London, Paddington is baffled by the modern barriers, and escalators serve only to confuse the poor Peruvian. Yet when he and Mr Brown stop to get a cup of tea at a train station café, they’re presented with a big orange teapot rather than a scaldingly hot styrofoam cup.
Paddington, as many people will tell you, is a British institution, and the impulse to update the character is a good one. Early signs seem middling to positive, and, with any luck, there should be at least handful of gags for mum and dad too.
Joe Manners Lewis
Paddington is released nationwide on 28th November 2014.
Watch the trailer for Paddington here: