I went to see this, against my basic instinct, because I thought the original film was so marvellously good that they couldn't go so low as to produce a cheap and saddening "part 2".
Let's start with the story. There is none. There are two parallel "stories" that happen. The first is the younger Mr. Banks, recently widowed, who learns overnight that if he doesn't come up with an insane amount of money, or find one specific paper, he will lose his home because of a debt. The second is "Mary Poppins, this one street lamp lighter and the little Banks children go around and sing songs with no link to anything". The first song goes along the lines of "Hygiene is important", the second, "it's important to read books", and the third "if you feel off, look at things with a new perpective". There is no link between them, and come out as absolutely random. There is absolutely minimal coherent link between them and the "story" in itself. These two "storylines" don't really ever merge, and you kind of wonder why each is happening, and how they will be linked. Sorry if this ruins the film : they essentially aren't.
The second is the characters. They don't hold up, in any way. The kinds are, at first, very responsible, and as soon as Mary pops up, they just end up being less and less mature. Mary Poppins is supposed to be a proper British nanny who teaches good values, etc., while having fun ("We are not a codfish"). In this film, she doesn't appear to do anything except bring the children to be less mature. The street-worker sidekick basically becomes the main character because he is the only one who actually does anything - he guides Mary and the children through everything. Mary Poppins most of all, is not Mary Poppins. She puts no focus on manners, she lets the children run around and do basically anything. She is the nanny, she is there to care and educated, but she has none of her manners. The character is not the character. Let's mention side characters like the mean banker. Is he mean? He rips out Mr.Banks' name out of a banking ledger in order to destroy proof that Mr. Banks own's shares at the bank, in order to reposess his house. Then, right after, he stays at the bank until midnight so that Mr.Banks and the children may bring a document which they may or may not find to the bank. How does this hold up? Yes, the screen writers are trying to build useless suspens, but a mean banker would go out of his job at quitting time, not stay there until midnight.
In a mix of "non-story" and "lack of character", the question of "what is Mary Poppins' role"? She serves essentially very little purpose until the very end. She isn't Mary Poppins, she serves little purpose... what is she there fore? I'll tell you - she is there because of her name. She is there so that one will say "oh look, it's Mary Poppins!" and be content with that. She is nothing but a name to attract audiences.
Let's get to the songs : after walking out from the theatre, I could neither remember nor hum the melody to any of the songs. And having tried for over a week, I still can't. On the other hand, I saw the original for the last time over two years ago, and I can still remember the melody to essentially all of them. The song writing in this one shows cheap song writing techniques used nowadays in musical drama. That is to say "I will start off this song by talking in rithm to some light musical background, and the we will simply go along some 4/4 partitions with a strong bass marking the first and third mesures". If this sounds technical, it's just in words what your ears will find ordinary, uninteresting, and bland.
May we go on to the aspect of "we won't copy the original, but we will try to copy the original"? In the first there is a hilarious scene with an old man on his ceiling and they had to sing to get him down. In this one, they are in an upside down apartment, and they have to sing to get it right side up. In the first they went into chalk drawings where they were in an innocent but amusing race. In this one they go into a porcelaine pot where they go to a theatre (only so that Mary Poppins and her main-character-side-kick can sing about the importance of reading books), where the children run off to have a over-the-top, American chasse with villainous animals who were trying to rob them. The chasse is imbecilic, lacks imagination, serves no purpose and does not "thrill". It is random, and has no place in this film.
Should we also go into what this film tries to teach? We've mentioned the values of "bathe regularly" and "read", but what else? The Mr.Banks is a painter who now works in a bank because there is an economical recession and art doesn't pay (though it could. ps. don't follow your dreams). At the end they all become magically rich out of nowhere, supposedly due to a micro investment that Mr.Banks made in his childhood (capitalism pays off; own stocks and invest, children!). It tries to teach some things, but the meaning of it all is quite... blurry and distorted.
Do I go on about everything that is wrong in this film? This is already long and negative.
I should mention the only good things : the sets, decors and animation. They are very nice, the 2D animation in the porcelaine scene was very beautiful and appreciated. Nonetheless, nice sets and animation does not compensate for an utter lack of everything else. It's what the french would call "powder to the eyes". Some sort of magical powder made to distract and blind to the fact that the film lacks everything else.
Here is a tip if you saw this one. Watch a scene from the original ,and it's parallel in this one. You will see that it the first, there are minimal sets, and the production value went into worthwhile dialogue and well written and catchy tunes. you will see that in this one, it is the exact opposite. The sets will put you in some magical re-imagined-passed universe, while the dialogues don't hold up, the songs are bad, and if you actually pay attention to what's going on, you are bored.
Let's cut it short : this movie is horrible. If I hadn't gone to see it with my family, I would have asked for my money back halfway through. I most certainly would not have appreciated it when I was little - this being said, I watched the first over and over again when I was a kid. P.L. Travers is probably rolling over in her grave. If you are wondering if you should see this movie - don't. Why does it have a good ratting? Probably for 2 reasons only 1) the name Marry Poppins is on it, and 2) Powder to the eyes.
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