Mary Poppins Returns
A Middle Aged Movie Blog. Being the periodic journal of a film loving middle aged independent science fiction writing father of two and his ongoing adventures in cinema and home video
Watched The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), which goes without saying. Sang along to all my favourite Danny Elfman tunes. Watched a bit of Peter Rabbit (2018), but turned it off a quarter of the way through at the request of my son, who was so bored by the movie, he’d started to roll his eyes.
Plumped in its stead for a further screening of Home Alone (1990) followed by Wizard of Oz (1939) and a marathon Lego building exercise to round out the day. Ate a lot. Drank a bit. Crashed out for an hour or so on the couch to recharge.
Post kids and early evening cold cuts, settled in for the final Maze Runner movie Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018), a kinetic, above average B movie yarn, based on the YA book by James Dashner, which, despite having too many endings and being over-populated by incredibly healthy, athletic, good looking cardboard cut out characters with smart haircuts and impressively maintained dental hygiene, proved itself an entertaining spectacle, rife with quality action sequences.
Better than a lot of the YA offerings of recent years for sure, though one feels on viewing it that the bubble has burst on teen dystopias for the time being. Directed by Wes Ball. Starring Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Aidan Gillen, Walton Goggins, Ki Hong Lee, Barry Pepper, Will Poulter and Patricia Clarkson
Attended the cinema with the clan to watch Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) and was totally wowed by the spectacularly original animation and contemporary vibe wafting off it like hot air. Totally inclusive, with a Spiderman for everyone. The film deserves to be seen in a cinema. It deserves a decent sequel. It deserves a decent box office return. It deserves to win something during awards season. Directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman. Starring Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld and Mahershala Ali.
Started watching The Man In The High Castle Season 3 after finishing the Netflix version of Lost In Space which was great fun. However hit the pause button midway through the second episode. I’m not ready for it yet.
I will return to it at some point in the future. For now though a dystopian show featuring Nazis and alternative realities is too much for my low wattage post festive brain to take hold of.
After a home viewing of Mary Poppins (1969) as prep and some lightweight New Years Eve celebrations with family and friends, attended the cinema to watch Mary Poppins Returns (2018), a movie I have been worried about since I first got wind of the fact Disney were planning on making a sequel to the original some months back.
My concerns were mitigated by the addition of Emily Blunt on magical nanny duties though Rob Marshall on directing duties triggered memories of 2002’s Chicago, a film that I disliked immensely on its original release, though I probably need to rewatch it to remind myself why that was.
As it turns out, Mary Poppins Returns is good fun. Emily Blunt is excellent as the Julie Andrews surrogate. The songs are passable and will probably grow on me the more I watch it. The animation has a retro vibe about it that I found comforting and nostalgic. The supporting cast are a charming gaggle of referential oddities. The kids aren’t annoying and the film’s central message of hope is well articulated. It’s a slightly darker movie than its predecessor given the central themes of loss and bereavement. However it is respectfully crafted overall and hits all the right notes to qualify as a success.
Watched The Cloverfield Paradox (2018) on streaming. Having enjoyed the first two instalments, Matt Reeves’ shaky-cam Kaiju movie, Cloverfield, from 2008 was fun whilst the claustrophobic, stripped back follow up with the tagged on alien sequence, 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), was a surprisingly economic, nail biting treat, hopes were high for this one going in.
Unfortunately, this third entry is less satisfactory. Run of the mill, rushed, utterly predictable and lacking intelligence it plays out like a straight to video Alien clone from the mid 80’s.
The set up is standard space horror fare. A disparate group of multi national astronauts are stuck on a space station orbiting the planet. They’re attempting to create limitless energy to stop a war from breaking out on the ground below them.
One of the characters is introduced (Ava Hamilton, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw)and provided with enough backstory to elicit audience sympathy. However the rest of the characters are wafer thin amounting to nothing more than a medley of job titles and personality archetypes that the audience knows, before bad stuff starts to happen, will be systematically picked off dependant upon their plot usefulness.
The movie is functional and ticks a few boxes. However it barely gets going before stuttering to a standstill. A scene involving the recently severed arm of a key crew member coming to life and behaving in a sentient manner to shuffle the narrative forward proved the highlight. An excellent cast. Wasted on a far from excellent script. Directed by Julius Onah. Starring Elizabeth Debicki, Aksel Henna, Chris O’Dowd, John Ortiz, David Oyelowo and Zhang Ziyi.