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Film Review: Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) is the sequel to the original Mary Poppins film released back in 1964, which starred Julie Andrews as the lead role. This time, Emily Blunt takes the lead with Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda by her side. This Disney sequel takes place several decades after the events of the original film, with the Banks children all grown up and George having his own children. Due to the Great Depression, the Banks family are left in a tough situation and Mary Poppins returns back to the family to help the young children out in a troubling time.

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) – source: Walt Disney Studios
Whilst the original Mary Poppins film wasn’t one that I particularly went back to every year, the film is still iconic to those particularly in the UK. The songs are what especially stand out in the original film, and just how fun and simple the story is overall. There is a great joy to watch Julie Andrews in any performance she gives, and it would seem almost impossible to come up with any actress that could match her calibre at the role of Poppins. Who else could give such charm and strong presence to such an important role?
Well, it turns out that Emily Blunt is that exact person. She has had a stellar year, due to the overwhelming success of A Quiet Place, a film I absolutely adore and a role she does incredible things with. Mary Poppins Returns is no different, where she embodies the role through her body. Even her manners and body language matches that of Julie Andrews. What is pleasant about this is that she doesn’t try to be Julie Andrews as Poppins, but rather just fill the role of Poppins. She gives a fantastic performance throughout, whether this is through actions, dialogue or song. There is simply no other actress that could have filled in that role at this time, and it is no wonder that she is getting Best Actress nominations across the board this awards season.
As a first-time movie actor, Lin-Manuel Miranda gives a stellar performance. It still feels nostalgic of the performance that Dick Van Dyke gave in the original, despite being different roles. There is a charm to Miranda and it is very clear that he knows how to perform and act for a camera. He made the role his own, and he is so likeable and charming, you can’t help but fall in love with his camera. He also had the best songs to perform within the film, and that certainly is helped by his voice and charismatic performances.
Mary Poppins Returns (2018) – source: Walt Disney Studios
Whilst the songs are catchy and fun, they are no where near the calibre of the original soundtrack. I kind of wish that the crew let Miranda co-write some of the songs, given how well he did with the Moana soundtrack for Disney. There is no songs here that are nearly as iconic as “Supercalifragilsticexpialidocious” or “Spoonful of Sugar”, but I also appreciate that they created a new soundtrack and didn’t cheat out and go for the songs we all love. If there was one song that could be big from the new soundtrack, I would go for “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky” due to how charming and beautiful the performance is, and how that was the one song that gave me some nostalgia from the original film.
There were also some scenes that just simply weren’t as entertaining as I was hoping. These particularly come from the performance scene between Miranda and Blunt, as well as seeing Streep as Cousin Topsy. I felt that these scenes were almost trying too hard to be unique and fun, that they just dragged on and added nothing to the story. I was not a fan of either of their songs or how long the scenes were, and both could have been significantly cut down or even out. This film tries to demonstrate all of the things that the team can do now that they couldn’t over 50 years ago, yet it just doesn’t feel as coherent or fresh to the story.
There are still some special and outstanding moments through this movie though, and the animation done throughout is spectacular. This definitely brings back the days of 2D animated Disney films, and it makes me wanting Disney to make them again. There is something so charming with 2D animation, and seeing it blended with live action always makes me smile. It simply wouldn’t be a Mary Poppins movie without the animation, and it was handled so well. All the sequences were filled with so much fun and colour, that it simply took you away from the real world and into a new world with Poppins.
Mary Poppins Returns (2018) – source: Walt Disney Studios

This was a great choice to see around Christmas, as I did on Christmas Eve. A lot of families sit down and watch the original at Christmas time and this film will happily continue that tradition, as my cinema screen was packed with families ready for the holidays. This is a film that will keep everyone in the family happy, and even if the songs aren’t as catchy as before, you will still come out of the cinema singing about the lovely London sky. This is a heartfelt movie that should be viewed in cinemas for the beautiful shots and animation, and to witness the incredible performances by Miranda and Blunt. Go and check this one out.


Have you seen Mary Poppins Returns yet? Did you enjoy is as much as me, or are you excited to go and see it? Let me know in the comments below.

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