Modern-day film remakes of classic books or TV series usually fall into two camps - the terrible and the not too bad. There are very few that jump away from the ties of their hallowed sources and manage to hit the right notes in a modern setting.
Paddington is probably one of the most successful attempts at doing this so far - it's a charming film that will have kids as enthralled whilst managing to be equally entertaining to their parents. It helps that it isn't a cheap all-CGI cash in and actually has an enviable cast of some of the best acting talent in Britain.
Paddington, voiced by Ben Whishaw (who replaced Colin Firth who was deemed not to be a good fit for the role late in the day) flees Peru to England when his home is destroyed in an earthquake. He hopes to find the explorer who spent time with his aunt and uncle and taught them to speak AND make marmalade. Unfortunately London isn't the friendly and hospitable place he was lead to believe and its only the kindly Mrs Brown (a delightful Sally Hawkins, thankfully not Brendan O'Carroll's creation) takes pity on the homeless bear against her husband, Mr Brown's (Hugh Bonneville), wishes.
Having found a temporary home to stay, Paddington sets about searching for the explorer - a search that will eventually lead him into mortal danger and the clutches of the villainous Millicent Clyde (Nicole Kidman).
The choice of live action for the human characters is probably the film's masterstroke. With Paddington being the main CGI creation, it has given the effects team time and budget to create one of the best realised computer generated characters in film so far. The late-in-day choice to bring Ben Whishaw in to voice the titular bear was also the right thing to do and was clearly something being considered at the time the first trailer was released. The supporting cast are all excellent - along with Bonneville, Kidman and Hawkins we get to see Peter Capaldi ham things up in almost the complete opposite of his role in Doctor Who. Matt Lucas also pops up a couple of times as a taxi driver and Horrible Histories Simon Farnaby has a small role as a security guard.
However, its Julie Walters who really steals the film as the Brown's nanny-cum-cleaner-cum-cook Mrs Bird. She's great fun and had both the kids and us parents chuckling away with her antics.
Paddington is a gripping film that succeeds in entertaining even the youngest of children without talking down to teenagers and adults - quite how they've succeeded in that is baffling, but they have. Highly recommended.
Having been spoilt of late with excellent HD Blu-ray transfers, this is the first DVD of a modern film we've had a look at in a long time. Thankfully despite being lower resolution it doesn't really disappoint. There is some evidence of aliasing at times and naturally it's a little blurry but there isn't the muddiness that can often affect DVD transfers. It may not be the most eye-popping delight we've seen but it is more than adequate.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is nice and deep and piles on plenty of atmosphere. It's surprisingly warm but really kicks in during some of the more action-oriented scenes in the Natural History Museum at the eend of the film.
The DVD has a few features - none are massively exciting - three small featurettes and a gallery. None offer any major insight or rewatch value.
A lovely film on a competent disc that just lacks a little in special features. We can see a special edition coming some time in the future, but for now this will keep the kids and family more than entertained.