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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cindy Prascik's Reviews of Paddington 2 & Den of Thieves

Dearest Blog: Yesterday it was off to Marquee Cinemas for a pair of heist movies: Paddington 2 and Den of Thieves. (Find another review that makes *that* connection if you can!)

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

First on my agenda: Paddington 2.

When dear Paddington is wrongly jailed for robbery, it's up to the Browns to find the real thief.

Paddington was a lovely surprise, a "children's" movie that turned out to be so much more. If there's any surprise to the greatness of Paddington 2, it's only that it's even better than the first.

Like its predecessor, much of Paddington 2's charm can be credited to its phenomenal cast. Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, and Brendan Gleeson are in top form, and Hugh Grant is an absolute delight as the film's narcissistic villain. The plot of Paddington 2 doesn't hold many twists, but it doesn't need them; its execution is so sweet and funny that predictability is easily forgiven. The movie is beautifully filmed, with a special nod to the animated pop-up book sequences, a true delight from start to finish. Stay tuned for a great musical number at the end!

Paddington 2 runs 104 minutes and is rated PG for "some action and mild rude humor."

In an increasingly ugly world, I'm grateful for the joyful beauty of Paddington.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Paddington 2 gets all nine. (Yes, I'm throwing down a nine in January. 2018, you've got your work cut out for you.)

Fangirl points: Joanna Lumley! Ben Whishaw! Peter Capaldi! Ben Miller! Richard Ayoade!

Next on the docket: Den of Thieves.

LA's top cops face off with a legendary heist crew. Many shootings and f-words ensue.

Dear reader(s), my anticipation for Den of Thieves could not have been higher, and I want you to know from the bottom of my heart: I LOVE THIS MOVIE. It may not be the cleverest or the best from any technical standpoint, but, damn, it's everything I'd hoped it would be.

Den of Thieves wastes no time getting started with a fast and loud robbery and chase. From there, it quiets down surprisingly often, lending some time to backstory and...wait for it...planning. Like actual thinking. Yes, Den of Thieves is smarter than I expected. Understand the Smart Bar had been set very, VERY low, but still...I liked that it threw me a little curve, and in more ways than just Gerard Butler pondering his life choices. Den of Thieves weaves a tense tale, as the crafty robbers and no-rules cops attempt to out-fox each other. The bad-good guys are headed up by Butler, and his usual meathead act is quite perfect here. The bad-bad guys have Pablo Schreiber and O'Shea Jackson, Jr. turning in very nice performances with--dare I suggest it?--a fair bit of depth. Den of Thieves runs a hair too long and might have been better served by trimming some unnecessary subplot, but the movie takes a few turns I didn't expect and saves its best surprises for the finale.

Den of Thieves clocks in at 140 minutes and is rated R for "violence, language, and some sexuality/nudity."

Plopped squarely in the middle of all the pretentiousness of Awards Season, Den of Thieves is a sweary, testosterone-soaked action picture that is exactly what it means to be.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Den of Thieves gets eight.

Until next time...

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