An issue that reverberates through cinemas in the year of our Lord (praise be unto him) 2018 is the incessant needless sequels, reboots, and reimaginings. Let’s be honest, nobody asked for a Dumbo remake, nobody asked for the upcoming Lilo & Stitch remake, and nobody asked for Mary Poppins Returns. A film put to screen in 1964 to receive a sequel over 50 years later with a whole new cast seemed a recipe for disaster. With endless amounts of poor sequels that waited too long to drop (look at the disappointment that came with the second instalments of Anchorman and Zoolander), there was very little hope. It was about time a film broke that mould, and Mary Poppins Returns is as faithful a love letter to the original as could have been produced.
HER ENTRANCE IS AS MAGICAL AS YOU’D EXPECT, AND THROUGHOUT THE FILM EMILY BLUNT IS RADIANT AND DELIGHTFUL.
The plot follows Michael and Jane Banks, the children returning from the original Mary Poppins in adult form, along with Michael’s three children, Annabel, John & Georgie amidst a familial crisis, prompting the return of the titular character. From the start, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s character, Jack, bleeds charisma & smiles and the film wastes no time breaking into catchy and old-school song. The theme of the song bounces off the initially bleak backdrop of the world, and it’s impossible to cease the smiles from the get-go (and don’t worry, that hardly stops throughout the film).
It’s clear they made effort to keep Jack from entering the realm of a rip-off of Dick Van Dyke’s iconic Bert, but enough similarities shine through his characteristics and mannerisms to send the memories flying back to the 60’s. The whimsy of the film really kicks in once the family’s lives have been established, and Mary Poppins is required in their lives. Her entrance is as magical as you’d expect, and throughout the film Emily Blunt is radiant and delightful. She inherits the character that Julie Andrews made so impressive and is fantastic from start to finish.
When the real magic of Mary Poppins’ world kicks in, the CGI elements are effective, but in making the complex backgrounds, they knew that to make the visuals lifelike was futile- the worlds incorporated in the film are designed in such a cartoony manner that they’re not designed to be believed directly/ instead replicating the style of the 1960’s hit with enough of a modern twist to make the visuals positively amazing. As the film continues and the bleaker elements of the plot dissipate amidst the whimsy of Poppins magic, the colour of the film bursts, in the final sequence especially, and closes the film on the resounding thought that the visuals in cinema have hardly looked better (and that’s aside all of the fantastic costume design and intricate choreography).
Mary Poppins Returns may not be your kind of film if you’re more the fan of big blaring action movies or the occasional rom-com, the sheer amount of old-timey whimsy may be something of a sensory overload. But if you’re anything like me, who grew up watching the original and being spellbound by the campiness and colour, then I insist that you get in cinemas as soon as you can for this one.
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Few films have served as a better love letter to its predecessor, and it's a campy whimsical ride from start to finish. If you loved the original, get your seats booked at the cinema now!