- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A legendary singing nanny returned to theaters 54 years later in an enchanting musical that now dances its way over to ultra-high definition home theaters in Mary Poppins Returns: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG, 130 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $39.99).

Director Rob Marshall’s musical fantasy set in 1930s London envisions Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt picking up the mantle of the role originated by Julie Andrews) once again floating down from the skies to visit Cherry Tree Lane.

She arrives to take care of a new collection of Banks children, whose widowed father is the financially challenged Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw).

Fans of the original will cry “pish posh” with many of the forgettable songs in the film that never match the Sherman Brothers’ classics such as “A Spoonful of Sugar” and the Academy Award-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee.”

However, Mr. Marshall’s enthusiastic embracing of the original does lead to some dazzling onscreen moments certainly referenced by the underwater fantasy sequence as Mary and her young associates take a bath while singing “Can You Imagine That?”



The underwater number offers a giant rubber ducky, Peter Pan’s full-sized pirate ship and a pod of friendly dolphins with bubbles aplenty.

Better yet, a collection of Broadway and veteran actors help endear the film to multiple generations and include Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack (former apprentice to chimney sweep Burt); Meryl Streep as Mary’s Eastern European Cousin Topsy (joyously silly singing “Turning Turtle”); and 93-year old Angela Lansbury (the magical balloon lady).

If that’s not enough star power, the showstopper arrives with 93 year-old Dick Van Dyke (Bert in the original movie) dancing and singing as bank owner Mr. Dawes Jr.

Not as supercallifragilisticexpialidocious as the original, still “Mary Poppins Returns” will deliver a fairly enjoyable night of nostalgic entertainment for the entire family.

I also suggest going out and purchasing the 50th anniversary edition of the original “Mary Poppins” in the Blu-ray format ($17.99) to really understand the magic of that original movie musical.

4K UHD in action: Although feeling like a 1960s movie in narrative and song, the visual presentation often rises above the vintage appeal and truly showcases some UHD fun.

One might find issue with the reddish tint that slightly overwhelms too many of the interior scenes but that makes each fantasy musical sequence so much more eye-popping in saturated colors and crispness.

I’ll reference the complex production of the song “A Cover is Not the Book,” that involves mixing hand-drawn animation, digital and practical effects and some wildly colorful costumes plucked from the Britain’s Edwardian period.

With plenty of stylized anthropomorphic animals popping around, it also showcases a carriage ride with Mary and her pals across a piece of expensive spinning pottery.

The group eventually arrives to the Royal Doulton Music Hall, and Mary and Jack take to the stage wearing bright purple and pink garb to dance with penguins and sing a very cockney-fied song.

Not only applause worthy in execution, the number dazzles the eyes with overflows of pastels during every shot and almost takes on a three-dimensional appearance thanks to the high-dynamic range tweaks of the upscaled format.

Best extras: Fans get a bunch of short featurettes led by five minutes worth of welcoming the venerable Mr. Van Dyke back to the Mary Poppins universe. It includes watching the actor dancing, strolling down the set of Cherry Tree Lane and even reciting some lines from the original movie.

Of course, gushing about him abounds led by Colin Firth who plays his character’s greedy nephew William Wilkins in the new movie.

Next, musical-minded filmmakers will appreciate brief looks (roughly 4 minutes each) of the creation and choreography of the old school numbers “Trip a Little Light Fantastic,” “A Cover is Not the Book,” “Turning Turtle” and “Can You Imagine That?”

Follow that up with a 23-minute, four-part overview of the production that often pays homage to the director, the original film and the artists. It includes interviews with Miss Lansbury, Mr. Van Dyke and most of the key members of the cast and crew.

Finally, check out the deleted musical number “The Anthropomorphic Zoo,” sung by songwriter Marc Shaiman, and accompanied by storyboard style illustrations.

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