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Mary Poppins Returns reviews roundup: Emily Blunt praised as plot receives mixed reception

'The nostalgia here could easily have been very cloying. Instead, it adds to the richness and mystery'

Jack Shepherd
Wednesday 19 December 2018 09:14
Sneak Peek - Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns has won over the vast majority of critics, with Emily Blunt’s dazzling display as the eponymous nanny winning unanimous praise.

“The nostalgia here could easily have been very cloying,” writes The Independent’s Geoffrey Macnab of the sequel to the Julie Andrew-starring beloved original. “Instead, it adds to the richness and mystery.”

The review continues: “In an era of superhero franchises where sequels to successful movies turn up almost instantly, Mary Poppins’s return shows that sometimes it pays to wait. Half a century on, her allure hasn’t faded at all.”

Directed by Rob Marshall, Mary Poppins Returns also stars Ben Whishaw, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Pixie Davies, Angela Lansbury and David Warner. Dick Van Dyke also returns from the original, this time playing a bank owner.

Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph awarded a perfect five stars, calling the film ”practically perfect in every way”, adding that “it comes to life thanks to its own consummate artistry and rafter-rattling gusto – watching it feels like reliving a classic, rather than merely retreading it”.

The BBC’s Nicholas Barber gave four stars, saying: “A lively, colourful and big-hearted musical, it may lack a spark of originality, but it’s better than most children’s films. It’s just not as good as the children’s film it is trying so hard to be.”

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw gave a less glowing verdict, handing Blunt’s film three stars. He wrote: “Diehard fans of the first film will very probably love this sequel, for the undoubted detail and fervour with which it reproduces the template, though with a little more of a Broadway feel than it had in 1964. I admire it for its craftsmanship and technique, like a machine for creating nostalgia.”

Across the pond, reviewers were mixed. Entertainment Weekly’s Leah Greenblatt called Blunt “purely expialidocious charm”, but criticised the plot: “The narrative feels spindly and slightly adrift, a parasol in the wind.”

The Hollywood Reporter‘s David Rooney likewise praised Blunt, calling her a “worthy successor” to Andrews, noting the “unmistakable warmth” she brings to the role.

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However, writing for the Los Angeles Times, Justin Chang described Mary Poppins Returns as both “hyperactive and paralysed”.

“As it is, so much obvious care has been taken to reproduce and update the charms of the Robert Stevenson-directed original – to deliver an old-fashioned yet newfangled burst of family-friendly uplift – that Mary Poppins Returns winds up feeling both hyperactive and paralysed,” he wrote.

“It sits there flailing on the screen, bright, gaudy and mirthless, tossing off strained bits of comic business and all but strangling itself with its own good cheer.”

Mary Poppins Returns is released in UK cinemas on December 21. Read The Independent‘s full review here.

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