Let me make it clear that I have no major complaints against either of these films. However, I find myself very surprised at the level of acclaim that they've received. "Paddington 2" is perhaps a little more understandable, with its cheery Wes Anderson-esque visuals, crowd-pleasing whimsy, and a career-resurrecting performance by Hugh Grant. Still, I didn't find anything about it that I'd classify as exceptional. It was better than the original "Paddington," and yet I thought it had too many characters and a few too many bits of manufactured drama at the end. I appreciate it for being a gentle, charming family picture, because we always need more of them, but this wasn't something really special on the level of "Babe" or "Where the Wild Things Are."
As for "Fallout," well, I guess taste plays into it more here. I like the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, but tend to forget them about twenty minutes after I finish watching them. I've also found myself unable to care about Ethan Hunt as a human being since around the third movie, since I've had difficulty seeing the character as anything but an extension of Tom Cruise's warped ego. Still, I'm perfectly content to watch the crazy action sequences and slick demonstrations of spycraft, and there were plenty of then in "Fallout." I liked the addition of Henry Cavill and Vanessa Kirby. However, there was also the return of Michelle Monaghan and Rebecca Ferguson as Cruise's love interests. I like both actresses, but is there anything more emblematic of a male power fantasy than Ethan Hunt's estranged wife absolving him of all guilt and shooing him into the arms of another woman? Ugh.
I didn't write posts on either of these films, or even have them share a post with another title, because I only had enough of an opinion about them to fill a paragraph apiece. The only reason I'm bringing them up now is in the context of the recent groundswell of acclaim in connection with the release of critics' Top Ten lists. Frankly, I find the critical reaction to "Paddington 2" and "Fallout" more interesting than the films themselves. At the time of writing, Metacritic currently has them ranked as the 18th and 33rd most well regarded films of 2018, respectively. "Paddington 2" pulled off a rare 100% positive review haul. They're not going to be major contenders for any awards, because they're both very firmly escapist genre films, but their popularity ensures that they're going to be around in the public consciousness for a long time.
I understand why some people connected with these films where I didn't. They offer a lot of simple, beautifully executed cinematic pleasures that can be hard to get right. There are so many action spectaculars these days, but "Fallout" boasts top tier stunt work and inventive thrills that make it feel more exciting that the bulk of its competitors. The sequence in the bathroom is my personal favorite. "Paddington" is part of an even more dodgy genre - the family film with major CGI characters. Next to "Peter Rabbit" and "Monster Trucks," "Paddington" looks like high art.
I suspect that I'm also resistant because I think that these films aren't as good as they could be. I'm glad the talent involved is getting plenty of encouragement though. Hugh Grant was nominated for a BAFTA, and "Paddington" director Paul King was attached to Disney's live action "Pinocchio" for a while. Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise are working on the "Top Gun" sequel next, and I'm sure it's going to be as good a version of a "Top Gun" sequel as we're ever going to get. And maybe "Paddington 3" and "Mission Impossible 7" will be the installments that finally win me over.