Mary Poppins Returns 4K Blu-ray Review
Considering half a century has passed, this is as practically perfect a sequel as anybody could have hoped for
Mary Poppins Returns Film Review
Emily Blunt fills big boots, folding sparkling Disney magic into this equal parts soft reboot and faithful sequel.Over half a century after Julie Andrews defined the role for several generations, Disney returns to Mary Poppins to see if they can captivate the next few, delivering a Force Awakens (or Halloween) of sorts - telling a sequel tale that continues the story seamlessly decades after the original whilst simultaneous following many of the same plot beats.
Set a quarter of a Century after the events of the 1964 movie, Mary Poppins Returns sees the children from Mary Poppins - Michael and Jane - now grown up and dealing with their own woes. Michael is a widower with three young children and a home that is about to be repossessed by the very same bank that his father worked for, and that he now works for. With only a few days to fix a whole load of problems, suddenly Mary Poppins glides back into their lives, bringing a bag full of magic with her.
Blunt's Poppins is great - certainly better than anybody could have possibly expected from a franchise which has been rebooted over half a century after the original
As a reboot, Mary Poppins Returns does a superb job at reigniting this age-old classic Disney property, playing out a kind of even more magically infused fantasy Paddington-style romp, and enjoying but never once feeling constrained by the olde period setting. The game cast include a number of great child actors, solid adult support from Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer, and a dastardly Colin Firth, as well as nice cameos from the likes of Meryl Streep, David Warner and Dick Van Dyke.
Of course it's Emily Blunt's baby, and the actress rises to the challenge of stepping into Julie Andrews' shoes, taking a moment to settle into the rather distinctive accent, but delivering a charming, surprisingly sassy and practically perfect Poppins for the modern generation. Blunt's rise from Devil Wears Prada supporting role to Hollywood A-lister has been impressive, standing out in everything from The Adjustment Bureau to Looper, before co-leading Edge of Tomorrow, Sicario and A Quiet Place, and now driving the whole show in a role most audiences would have likely been ready to scrutinise every aspect of.
Blunt's Poppins is great - certainly better than anybody could have possibly expected from a franchise which has been rebooted over half a century after the original - and all the classic Disney-isms are there, infusing the live action events with a broad blend of classically animated insanity, which almost should not work in 2019, but still somehow does. Indeed, the entire production appears to have been lovingly crafted; faithful and respectful, falling down some what in terms of the sheer memorability of the song numbers (but, as A Star is Born proved, you only really need one great one, and The Place Where Lost Things Go comes pretty damn close), and easily covering over any possible cracks with heartfelt warmth and contagious enthusiasm.
Mary Poppins Returns 4K PictureMary Poppins Returns comes to UK Ultra HD Blu-ray courtesy of Disney, hot on the heels of their likely identical US copy. The sequel/soft reboot was shot digitally at higher resolutions but comes unsurprisingly limited by a 2K pipeline and commensurate Digital Intermediate, but nonetheless looks impressive enough in 4K.
The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image utilising the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.40:1. It uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec.
We reviewed the UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Mary Poppins Returns on an LG 55B7 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD OLED TV with an LG UP970 Dolby Vision 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
The sequel/soft reboot looks impressive enough in 4K
Although capped - at least technically - by the 2K DI, there's still a modest uptick in detail afforded to this 4K rendition, bringing facial close-ups, skin textures and hair layering into better focus, with the resultant presentation devoid of any kind of digital anomalies, and mostly - although not universally - sharply resolved. There's a nicely antiquated period feel to the proceedings, with classical stylisation and some richness of texturing.
The implementation of WCG and HDR make the most sizeable difference in comparison to the 1080p Blu-ray counterpart, as is almost always the case, providing expanded depth and colour coverage of the brighter, more imaginative sequences - embracing the pastels for the most part, but still providing a bracing kaleidoscope of wonderful tones, which are richer and deeper in their realisation here, particularly popping when the perfectly integrated old school animation ignites the stage.
Black levels are strong, handling the darker shadow and fog-strewn shots of the streets, rounding out a very good video presentation indeed, which perhaps only comes as something as a disappointment from the expectation that such a big budget high profile 4K release should be head and shoulders above its Blu-ray counterpart, rather than just having the edge over it.
Mary Poppins Returns 4K Sound
A more substantial but still not wholly conclusive upgrade comes on the aural front, with the accompanying immersive object-based 3D High Definition Dolby Atmos track certainly technically trumping the Blu-ray's DTS-HD MA 7.1 alternative, although still somewhat falling to the now-standard failings of Disney's popularly renamed 'Atmouse' mixes, which need some element of volume cranking to achieve anywhere approaching the same levels as their counterparts.
A more substantial upgrade comes with the Dolby Atmos track, trumping the Blu-ray's DTS-HD MA 7.1 alternative
Once that aforementioned volume adjustment has been made, the core elements are very pleasingly rendered, often perhaps even close to demo in design, even if they are ultimately robbed of any such moniker due to simply being mastered too low. Dialogue is firmly prioritised centrally across the frontal array, coming across clearly and coherently throughout, whilst effects bring Poppins' magical accoutrements to life with nuance and wonder, and key setpieces - the Royal Dalton chase sequence in particular - standing out with imaginative use of the surrounds and a fair amount of verve and punch. The score is chock full of song numbers which do a reasonably seamless job of expanding out to dominate the array, remaining high points on the track. LFE input is fairly limited but that's not wholly surprising for the piece (or for Disney) and the end result is still a good, frequently maybe even very good track, but a notch down from the demo standard that it almost demands to be.
Mary Poppins Returns 4K ExtrasAlthough there's nothing ported over to the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc proper, the accompanying Blu-ray disc does offer a decent selection of extra material. A four-part Making-of Documentary, The Practically Perfect Making of Mary Poppins Returns, looks at bringing the cherished feature back to life, recreating the sets, the contributions of the director, and key cameos. There's also a separate dedicated Featurette to one particular return.
A decent selection of extra material
A further 4-part Making-of selection, Seeing Things from a Different Point of View: The Musical Numbers of Mary Poppins Returns, looks behind four key musical numbers in the piece and the remainder of the extra features are dominated by Deleted Scenes, a Deleted Song, and some Bloopers, as well as a Sing-a-long option which enables you to watch the film with lyrics during playback.
Mary Poppins Returns 4K VerdictLovingly crafted, faithful and respectful, easily covering over any possible cracks with heartfelt warmth and contagious enthusiasm
Disney's UK release of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray for Mary Poppins Returns affords the movie strong video and audio, as well as a healthy selection of extra features, making for a strong package for fans of the film to pick up.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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