There’s always a danger when revisiting a beloved piece of film history.
Mary Poppins is a film which generations of movie-goers have grown up watching and the news that there was a sequel on the way had people rightly worried.
But they needn’t have feared – Mary Poppins Returns is practically perfect in every way.
Delightful British actress Emily Blunt takes the reins from original nanny extraordinaire Julie Andrews in the new musical and she is utterly brilliant. She oozes charisma and perfectly captures the Mary Poppins air of mystery.
This film sees Jane and Michael Banks – the children from the original – all grown up and living in London shortly after the end of World War II. Michael (Ben Whishaw, Skyfall) has three children of his own and is struggling to make ends meet after the death of his wife.
That’s when Mary Poppins arrives – not on a flying umbrella this time (though he’s still around) but clutching young George’s kite string.
There’s also a new chimney sweep/lamp lighter to replace Dick Van Dyke’s Bert – theatre star Lin-Manuel Miranda gets cockney to play Jack, who fancies Jane (Emily Mortimer, Shutter Island).
Together, Mary, Jack and the children help the elder Banks’ rediscover what childhood and imagination is all about. The film is truly a joyful experience and gives plenty of knowing nods to its predecessor.
Director Rob Marshall (Into the Woods, Chicago) clearly had a ball with the material. One particular song and dance scene – A Cover is Not the Book – is a highlight of the movie.
The fusion of traditional hand-drawn 2D animation with the live action is just as whimsical and joyous as it was 50 years ago. Blunt is exceptional in the lead, but her co-stars are also impressive.
In addition to Whishaw, Mortimer and Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns also features appearances from Meryl Streep (as cousin Topsy), Julie Walters and Colin Firth (banker William Weatherall Wilkins).
Whether you’ve seen and loved Mary Poppins your whole life or you’re coming in fresh, Mary Poppins Returns is sure to delight.