Evaluation: Part cuddly, part meta: ‘Peter Rabbit 2’ will go from tea time to criminal offense time

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Within the books and the first film based on them, “Peter Rabbit” and friends take on maqui berry farmers and sometimes other creatures. The sequel, “ Peter Rabbit 2: The particular Runaway , ” takes on … itself?

Books and films are, of course , different animals. Plus that’s OK. The second live-action/computer-animation hybrid movie in the series continues that evolution far from the gentle English country feel of Beatrix Potter ‘s writings in a meta method, winking all the while. Interestingly, it admits up front what it’s doing — updating beloved material for modern, industrial purposes — announcing it from the mouth of a pseudo-antagonist.

The particular sequel finds Peter’s people ( Rose Byrne as Bea, the modern stand-in for Potter, and Domhnall Gleeson as Thomas, formerly the critters’ foe) married and lifestyle mostly in harmony using the animals. There’s tension in between Thomas and Peter (voiced by Adam Corden ), however , as the uptight novice character can’t bring himself to trust the rapscallion bunny. Super-successful London publisher Nigel Basic-Jones ( David Oyelowo ) desires to take Bea’s charming writings about Peter and firm to the next level, causing several friction between Bea and Thomas. Meanwhile, Peter falls in with a bad crowd: the gang of city pets led by bad bunny Barnabus (voiced by Lennie James of the “Walking Dead” franchise) planning an audacious heist … of a maqui berry farmers market.

“The Runaway” is very much the particular sequel it warns you about; it is the bigger-and-bolder followup Nigel (standing in for The movies studio types) says the very first entry needs. Nigel pitches notions — T-shirts, surfboards, Peter-as-Bad Seed — that will seem absurd to fans of the books, whose gentility is perhaps their most memorable characteristic. Despite the rabbits’ and squirrels’ narrow escapes, their own adventures might end using a nice cup of tea — something directly lampooned in the film as not the way stuff are done in a commercial universe. Area of the gag is that we know these types of silly ideas are exactly what will come to pass, so we roll with it. Still, hedging the bet that we won’t mind spending most of the film on a city crime spree instead of continuing Peter’s adventures in the land because they’ve proclaimed their own intentions is only partially efficient.

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It’s mainly a slapstick affair (words also not likely to be songs to fans of the books) with only a handful of behaviour gags — one with a rooster contemplating his life’s purpose is particularly memorable. There aren’t that many actual humor in the film, for much better or worse. The conversation isn’t exactly clever, although the self-aware musings are often entertaining, such as Peter noting his own leanings toward “cartoon violence. ”

The humans’ moments, nevertheless , leave a bitter taste of bickering behind. The particular always watchable Byrne doesn’t have much to work with this time around but makes hay with what the lady can (such as when she reveals her master plan for her writings). Unfortunately, for most of the film, Gleeson’s Thomas is played for the brittle side. Rather than being an insecure bumbler with whom we sympathize, Thomas comes across as a shrill, jealous whiner. Oyelowo is supposed to be a mesmerizing, silver-tongued devil; they didn’t quite get there either.

With its human being relations a bit dicey, film production company lives or dies with the cuteness of its CG pets. Fortunately, it probably will never ever stop hitting the cute key inside us simply to notice rabbits scurry-hopping with solemn little faces. The motion picture technology’s growth is amazing. The creatures are photoreal, and the filmmakers make the wise choice of not anthropomorphizing too much — these are bunny, pig and cat faces with subtle tweaks to increase phrase (no “ Lizards ” disaster here). In that, ironically, they are probably truest to the books. Using the varying textures associated with fur, the shadows and light play, the dampness in the eyes, the Animal Logic animation/visual effects group outdid itself.

There you have it — the meta tips for adults; the cuteness plus slapstick for the kids. The filmmakers’ bet that viewers will forgive the modernizations and forget the original can be bolstered by the fact that the first “ Peter Bunny ” film made about seven times the reported budget.

‘Peter Bunny 2: The Runaway’

Rated: PG for some rude humor plus action.

Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes.

Playing: In wide launch June 11.