‘The Magic always returns…’ so goes the trailer and, with a slew of Disney remakes raining down on us like a ferocious thunderstorm, it was only a matter of time before our favourite nanny descended from up on high for another amazing adventure and after much anticipation. Mary Poppins has returned.
Transported into the Depression Era under the London Sky, Mary returns as the Banks family are struggling to stay afloat amidst family tragedy and financial problems. Michael (Whishaw) and Jane (Mortimer) are still living at No.17 Cherry Tree Lane with Michael’s three children – Georgie, John and Anabel – but there lives haven’t quite gone the way they had hoped in the years since. In need of a change of fortunes and an uplift in their spirits, enter Mary who quickly helps bring about some change in both the adults and children alike, reminding them that while all may seem lost, it’s only out of place.
As with many of these Disney remakes and reimaginings, the majority of fans have such trepidation that new versions will skew – or, god forbid, ruin – the legacy of those originals with a view firmly on monetary gain rather than some truly creative. But Poppins is the perfect antidote to allay such fears as it brilliant recaptures the magic of what has come before while beautifully rendering something new and inventive at the same time. Bringing on the somewhat inconsistent director Rob Marshall (Chicago: great, Into The Woods and Pirates 4: not so much) is something of a masterstroke here as his talents for bravado and theatricality work beautiful in breathing new life into the story while embracing the legacy of such a wonderful film.
Every moment here is filled with love and affection, focusing on characters at the core of the story first with the padding used to enhance an already soaring film. The decision to bring back the 2D drawn animation so wonderfully rendered in the original is a masterstroke, popping from the screen with wonder and colour to spare in a way that no 3D version could, with the Royal Dalton Music Hall sequence (glimpsed in the trailer) absolutely magical with Blunt and Miranda having a whale of a time. And what of the new Poppins? Well, Practically Perfect in Every Way, and we didn’t expect anything less. Add to the mix the ridiculously talent LIn-Manuel Miranda as well as some welcome turns from Meryl Streep, Colin Firth and Dick van Dyke, the company is just as spectacular as you had hoped.
If you have fears going in about your childhood dreams being crushed, all fears are allayed within moments of Mary Poppins Returns opening crescendo that will bring tears of joy and beaming smiles. It isn’t without fault – it loses a little steam in the final third before it ends superbly – but for a film that has such jig boots to fill, it has done it in the most ambitious way. Mixing the old with the new, it’s a vibrant, whimsical and touching film that echoes the best of Disney while embracing much of its present achievements. Let’s go fly a kite with Mary, it will take you to the highest heights.