This sweet-tempered and exceedingly funny film is also a must-own disc for 4K Blu-ray fans…
Having settled down with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, Paddington's life is thrown into turmoil when he is falsely imprisoned for the theft of a rare pop-up book. With the real criminal still on the loose, the Browns spring into action – but what is a marmalade-loving bear to do when he's trapped behind bars with a bunch of hardened crooks?
An irresistibly charming and inclusive family adventure film, 2014's Paddington was one of the biggest and best cinematic surprises in a long time (just look at the trailers for this year's Peter Rabbit update to see the sort of abomination we could have ended up with). This only makes it more amazing that this quick-witted follow-up not only matches the quality of its predecessor, but actually surpasses it in almost every way imaginable. It's the Godfather Part II of talking bear movies.
From Hugh Grant's dandyish turn as a villainous has-been actor to the Wes Anderson-like sense of whimsy and Chaplin-esque set-pieces that returning director Paul King brings to this lively, witty story, there's nothing about Paddington 2 that doesn't hit the intended mark.
And if the first film proved to be an unlikely appeal for acceptance in the face of worries surrounding immigration, then this post-Brexit sequel is even more pointed in both its critique of prejudice and its celebration of the ways in which multiculturalism can enrich communities.
Laugh-out-loud funny, bursting with creativity and containing a heartwarming message about inclusiveness that we could all learn something from, Paddington 2 is not just a great children's film. It's a great film, full stop – and you'd be a fool to miss it.
Picture: If you're the sort of AV-Holic that likes to marvel at individual strands of fur, then this is the 4K disc for you. Animation has often been a picture quality flagbearer, and this is a task Paddington 2 (through its CG-created central character) adopts with relish. Whenever the titular bear is onscreen, this 2.40:1 image invites you to drink in the crisp, fluid, bristly detail. He blends in perfectly with the live-action footage, which is quite an achievement.
This pixel finery isn't limited to Padders, though. This is a impressively clean and sharp image overall, picking out details in the excellent set design (such as the interiors of the court in Chapter 4) and London locations.
Contrast seems perfectly judged. There's a strong sense of HDR impact over the comparatively muted 1080p image, resulting in environments feeling warmer and more refined. Sequences such as the opening Peru-set animation play out with a completely different feel via this 4K HDR presentation.
While the disc delivers strong, stable black levels, it's the rich colour palette that makes more of an impression. Reds, in particular, be they Paddington's hat or a painted door, gain an extra lustre here, and the movie's overall riot of tones is captured perfectly.
Overall, this is fine-looking 4K release.
Picture rating: 4.5/5
Audio: Paddington 2 takes a step up from its predecessor's DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack by also offering a Dolby Atmos mix. Although, before anybody gets too excited, it's not exactly the most dynamic object-based track you'll encounter.
Use of the height channels is mainly limited to giving the overall mix a greater sense of space, although they are occasionally given discrete aural effects to work with – the harp strings in Chapter 3 that act as a flying swan's musical signature and exist entirely within the height layer being one example; the sound of gears turning as Paddington climbs up a clock tower in Chapter 9 another.
Otherwise, it's an excellent piece of sound design that makes convincing use of the surrounds, delivers dialogue flawlessly and boasts incredible musicality.
Audio rating: 4.5/5
Extras: Our only bone of contention with the first film's Blu-ray was the utterly lacklustre collection of bonus features Studiocanal assembled on the disc: just three featurettes (only one of which lasted for longer than three minutes) and a gallery of stills and poster art. While still not exactly overburdened with extras, those that accompany this Blu-ray release of Paddington 2 drill a lot further into the filmmaking process.
Director/co-writer Paul King kicks things off with an engaging audio commentary that goes into a fair amount of detail about the making of the movie. Meanwhile, Paddington 2: The Challenges of Making the Film (four minutes) finds animation director Pablo Grillo addressing the difficulties of bringing the title character to life and integrating him into a live-action setting.
"Rain on the Roof" with Phoenix Buchanan (two minutes) is a fullscreen presentation of the amusing musical sequence that plays in a window during the movie's end credits.
Last up is a lively 34-minute BAFTA Q&A with Paul King, Pablo Grillo, producer David Heyman, co-writer Simon Farnaby and Hugh Grant.
Extras rating: 3/5
We say: A delightful 4K outing for this wonderfully witty and clever feel-good masterpiece.
Paddington 2, Studiocanal, Ultra HD Blu-ray & Region B BD, £30
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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