Movie Review: Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

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Summary: Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives.
Pros:
Cast and Characters.
  • Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins. I love Emily Blunt and I think she did a great job as Mary Poppins. I always saw her as a character who is there to help you when you need it, not to do the work for you. She’s the kind of person who will allow you to try to make the mistake, make the effort before she steps in. It’s important life lessons. I love her snarky and “chilly” comebacks and how vain she is. She looks at her reflection whenever she can. I mean do you girl lol. She is very loving though which is clearly shown in how she handles the children. I also loved the moments where it’s clear she’s sad or emotional about what’s happening. There’s a scene where Michael is yelling at his children, her facial expression was a bit sad. I think Emily Blunt had a lot of fun in this role. I think she was a great choice to pick up where Julie Andrews’ left off. She was energetic when she needed to be, she was stern/firm and her facial expressions and her affected kind of posh tone of voice was great!
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack. Is there anything this guy can’t do!? Jack is a cockney lamplighter and he’s basically the Bert of this film. Jack is extremely likable, he’s a nice and sweet guy who helps whenever he can. I like his childlike energy whenever he’s with the kids but he’s still an adult because he has his role in the world, but he takes great pleasure in it. He has his community and he’s proud of it. I also like that he’s basically ride-or-die with Mary Poppins lol. Must have gotten those tips from Bert lol. LMM was fun to watch. I knew he’d be fine, but I was curious because I’ve only really known him from his work behind the camera more so than in front of it. But the camera loves him and it’s clear he loves the camera. I think Jack could have been annoying, but he manages not to do that.
  • Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks. He is working as a part-time teller at his father’s bank. He is a struggling artist who was recently widowed. He’s very sad at the start of the film, where he really doesn’t know what to do or how to handle life without his wife. His song “Conversation” really talks about that and it’s a sad song and I think Ben Whishaw does a good job in the role. I think he’s a great emotional actor anyway. He has a lot of great moments in the film. He has basically walked in his father’s footsteps but in a different way. Mr. Banks wanted his kids to grow up, but Michael’s kids have already done that and he’s just too in his head to realize they didn’t need to do that, or at least shouldn’t have too.
  • Emily Mortimer as Jane Banks. Jane isn’t as prominent in the film, but she is Michael’s big sister, so she would have to be included. She has followed in her mother’s footsteps and is a labor organizer. Her main issue is that she seems to have forgotten her own life due to her need to help others all the time. Jane is so willing to help her brother that she even forgoes going to work because he needed her more. That’s love right there! But she’s forgotten herself. I always find Emily Mortimer sweet to watch on-screen. She’s likable and she looks like a grown-up Jane (more than Whishaw looks like an adult Michael lol).
The Children. We get three kids this time. There were times where I felt that it might have been too much to have three but thinking about it, it wasn’t detrimental to the film and the three kids worked well together.
  • Pixie Davies as Annabel Banks. She is one of the twins along with John and she has grown up exponentially in the last year after their mother’s deaths that she is a little adult. It seems like she’s the older twin because she seems to call the shots and even takes the lead most of the time. She will also do anything for her brothers, shown by the many times she has gone after Georgie without hesitation. She also has the idea to sell their mother’s bowl to help pay for the house. Pixie Davies is cute and fine in her role. She is likable, which is hard sometimes when you have kids who are acting like grownups because of situations that require them to be. Usually they’re annoying, but she’s not.
  • Nathanael Saleh as John Banks. Very similar to Annabel’s character just in boy form lol. I do think he’s the younger twin, but he also is on the same wavelength as Annabel when it comes to acting like an adult. We see them taking care of their father as he seems to be forgetful of adulting due to his grief. They’ve taken it rather well for a pair of 10-year-olds. I’m assuming their 10-12. Nathanael Selah is adorable lol and likable.
  • Joel Dawson as Georgie Banks. He is the youngest Banks child and the one who is the most like a child. The others often look or run after him because of whatever he might get himself into. He’s super cute. Also, a likable kid.
Musical Numbers. The big thing that sells this movie besides Mary Poppins is the musical numbers. There are a lot of numbers in here that are sweet, grand and fun to watch. “The Place Where Lost Things Go”, is a great song, it’s basically a lullaby and it’s very sweet, it really helps the movie come to its conclusion towards the end. “Can You Imagine That?” was a fun song in the bathtub, “A Cover is Not the Book” was also fun, and I loved that they allowed Lin Manuel-Miranda to rap. Lastly, the “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” is the Lamplighters song led by Jack and it was fun to watch.
Sweet Message. I think there are a few messages going on here, but the two that stand out is “don’t forget what it’s like to be a child”, which is like the first film. Secondly, I would say “family” is also a major part of the film. Michael is so stricken with grief that his children must grow up quickly to make up for the loss of their mother, not to mention, he’s so preoccupied with being a grownup, that he forgets that the important moments are with his children. As for “family”, it goes hand in hand with the first message as Michael needs to get his head together for his kids. I think that’s always important. As for Jane, it’s more like a “live your life” as she seems to help Michael a lot, which is good, but she seems to forget herself in the process, which is why her little side plot, while conventional, was cute.
Fun and Enjoyment. This film does have a brighter color palate than the first film, which works for not only 2018 but for the 1930’s London they’ve created. I think there are a lot of sequences in this film that are spectacle and so much fun to watch. Like I mentioned before, three of the musical numbers really stood out to me (not counting the Lullaby song), “Can You Imagine That?” in the bathtub was cute; “A Cover Is Not the Book” while in the china bowl was what I’d consider the BIG number and I thought it delivered. Probably one of the best musical numbers of the film. Lastly, “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” is the like the “Step in Time” number from the first as it’s a Jack led number with his Lamplighters and it was fun as well.
Beautiful Costumes. Sandy Powell does the costume work here and it’s so beautiful. You have probably seen her other works like The Favourite. But her work is soooo good, particularly on Mary Poppins and Jane’s characters. The other characters also had nice costumes that fit in the time, the attention to details in the kid’s clothes and even their looks whenever they went on their adventures were great to look at it. However, I loved all of Mary Poppins’ looks.
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This blue coat is everything. I loved her hat as well. Every time they zoomed in on her shoes, I was like “Oh so pretty!” I also love the red coat she wears later. When they go into the china world, they’re wearing clothes that look made of china and it’s so lovely. I mean, the white dress Mary Poppins wears in the chalk drawing is iconic but I liked the pink dress.
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Great costumes!!! The attention to detail were great. The film is set in the 30’s so it’s clear that the costumes reflect that and while Mary’s look has updated, you know it’s supposed to still be the same character we know and love from Julie Andrew’s portrayal. The silhouette is essentially the same with some updates to her look, like the fringed cape. Either way, it’s lovely.
Cinematography/Visual Effects. It is a beautiful movie. It has a very clear and almost bright look to it compared to the darker/grittier look of the first one, especially while in London. All the musical numbers have these grand CGI experiences with these bright colors and it really helps it feel magical in those moments.
Cons:
Musical Numbers. Yes, I know it’s here as well as in the pros BUT there are so many songs and musical numbers in this film it feels bloated and you get fatigued quickly. It seemed like this film had way more songs than in the first, I checked and the first had I think at least two more performed numbers, but for some reason (and I am a musical person, this never happens), I started to get a little annoyed at how much they sang everything. I also think a lot of it had to do with the fact that they weren’t as ear-catching as they may have wanted them to be. I don’t really remember what any of them sounded like. None really stood out in terms of the songs afterwards. I think that’s the problem. They just don’t stand out.
Falls Flat. Another big issue I had was the ending. We have something we’re building up to with them losing their house, but it doesn’t seem to me that the movie remembers that throughout the film. It’s great that Mary Poppins has returned but did she really need to? I mean, sure, she helped the kids be kids again and gave help here and there but it’s not the quite the same punch as it is in the first with Mr. Banks trying to make Michael be a man too early. The tension isn’t there. I just didn’t feel a satisfying conclusion in this movie. It’s like things happen to make the movie move forward but it didn’t really have anything to do with the main plot of them losing their house. Ya know? Mary Poppins even says, “I’m here to look after the Banks children” and when the child says “Us??” She says, “oh yes you too.” But she was talking about Jane and Michael, but she never really does anything with them. I guess it was through the children and then whole thing with Jane and Jack.
Overall, I really enjoyed Mary Poppins Returns. I think it was a fun movie with a great cast with good chemistry with each other who loved their characters and who had a great deal of fun. Emily Blunt steals the show as Mary Poppins. LMM does a great job with Jack and the kids are all enjoyable as well. Ben Whishaw is also a standout as he holds a lot of the emotional weight in the film. The musical numbers are fun to watch with energetic music and the visuals for this film are outstanding. THE COSTUMES! *dies* It has a sweet message and I think it’s a great bit of entertainment. Now, I do think the songs, while the numbers were fun, the songs weren’t (with a few exceptions) standouts. It seemed like there were too many in such short spans of time that it began to feel annoying and the film bloated. I also don’t think it lives up to the magic it wanted to inspire. It falls flat for me and I’m not left feeling like the story was worth telling. But I think it’s worth the watch to see Mary Poppins live on again.
Rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Mary Poppins Returns? Is this your introduction to Mary Poppins? If so, what’s the matter with you! Watch the first one! What are your thoughts. Comment below and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading!

 

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