Paddington 2 Ultra-HD Blu-ray Review
Effortlessly charming and totally enchanting
Aunt Lucy said, if we're kind and polite the world will be rightPaddington 2 joins that rare breed of sequel that matches, or betters, the original film. It takes everything that was great about the first film and amps it up to perfection. But it can also stand completely on its own as a film in its own right. The story, on the face of it, is very simple: in a case of mistaken identity, Paddington is sent to prison as a thief and his friends and family rally around to save him. But such is the skill of the writers that every scene has a purpose and a payoff; the comedy is on a level that everyone can enjoy (young and old alike) while the characters are so cleverly designed that only a moment’s screen time shows you their motivations. Indeed many a Hollywood blockbuster could learn from such basic story structure. But what ultimately makes Paddington 2 so entertainingly is its effortless charm and whimsy.Paddington is now living permanently with the Browns, and has made such an impact with the whole street that everyone knows his name and is better off for it. While helping out in an antique shop, he comes across a pop-up book of London monuments that would be perfect birthday gift for his Aunt Lucy who had always wanted to come to London. When the book is stolen, Paddington is wrongly accused and sent to prison, where his charm makes even that place better. Meanwhile the Brown’s discover the true culprit and put in a plan to rescue their charge. Everyone involved with the piece give a terrific performance; we're not in Oscar territory but there is a firm grasp of character, special mention must go to Hugh Grant - you’ll see why. The CGI is perfect with seamless integration with the real world. An engaging, entertaining and utterly charming film.
Picture QualityPaddington 2 was shot using Arri Alexa cameras at both 2.8 and 3.4K resolutions, but ultimately (and unfortunately) finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate. The disc presents an up-scaled to 3840 x 2160p resolution and in a widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HRD10.
Only a 2K DI, I hear you cry! Well you could have fooled me, for this image packs one hell of a punch and flies in the face of 2K DI detractors: it is an astonishingly good picture that improves on every level over the 1080p Blu-ray. Detail is spectacular; the CGI of Paddington himself, from fir, to coat button holes to the crust of marmalade sandwiches – all are pin sharp and integrated perfectly into the picture. Fore, middle and distance shots are equally as sharp when it comes to edges, whether it is showcasing the gaudy décor of Phoenix Buchanan’s apartment, newspaper headlines, flour around the prison kitchen, London streets or the forestry of Darkest Peru.
An astonishingly good picture that improves on every level over the 1080p Blu-ray
Add to this an excellent colour pallet curtesy of the WCG and a bright vibrant image curtesy of the HDR and you have near perfection. Colours are wonderfully seen and perfectly natural, whether it’s the soft pink of the prison uniforms, the dark blue of Paddington’s coat of the myriad of greens and purples that adorn the walls of Phoenix Buchanan’s apartment. Flesh tones are a tad warm, but are in fitting with the overall tone of the piece. Black levels are strong and there is some good showdown detail when necessary, while the high end of the scale is rendered without any loss of detail.
The source is, of course, pristine and there are no digital anomalies to report. Put simply a truly wonderful image.
Sound QualityThe Dolby Atmos surround track is just as absorbing and uses the subtle placement of sound to put you directly in the centre of the action. The opening scene when Uncle Pastuzo and Aunt Lucy rescue Paddington atop the bridge over the waterfall is the first of many scenes that showcase sonic excellence; the sound of the river below the bridge, the rushing water of the waterfall crashing around the room , the dialogue places within the mayhem. Move to Paddington being given a lift down a busy London street where by traffic, birds and pedestrians are placed to make you feel like you are on the back of the bicycle with the bear. The score makes full use of the speakers and is very well layered into the mix. Dialogue is placed centrally but given a bit of directionality when required and sound very natural and never lost. Bass is deep and tight and never overpowering. In all a terrific surround track and doesn’t bamboozle with effects but keeps alive with immersion.
ExtrasAudio Commentary – With director Paul King as he chats, quite extensively about the main production points of the film covering just about all of the bases.
Paddington 2: The Challenges of Making the Film – Is a very short, four minute, making of feature that looks at bringing the title character to life and integrating him into the live-action setting.
Rain on the Roof with Phoenix Buchanan – At two minutes is the fullscreen presentation of the closing musical sequence found during the movie's end credits.
BAFTA Q&A - Sees Paul King, (animation director) Pablo Grillo, (producer) David Heyman, (co-writer) Simon Farnaby and Hugh Grant talking about the film and their respective parts for about half an hour.
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictPaddington 2 sees the titular bear back for more fun and frolics is a sequel that is every bit, if not better, than the original film. Director Paul King returns along with the entire cast to bring a wonderful sense of continuity while upping the action, comedy and whimsy. Everything that made the original film great has been turned up to eleven, with Paddington 2 being so effortlessly charming and totally absorbing that you cannot help but be swept along with the characters. So whilst the outcome is never in any doubt it comes with a real sense of satisfaction for a job well done.
Everything that made the original film great has been turned up to eleven
The disc from Studiocanal is a pretty decent package; the picture might only be from a 2K DI, but you would never know, is it bright, detailed and wonderfully coloured with strong blacks and nothing lost in the whites. The Dolby Atmos surround track is cleverly layered to keep you firmly within the surround environment and sound perfectly natural in a fantastical element. The extras package is good this time around with the director’s commentary and BAFTA Q&A being the highlights. Very highly recommended.
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