WHAT I LIKED: The most striking thing about Rob Marshall's new Mary Poppins sequel 'Mary Poppins Returns,' is that - unlike many recent Disney remakes which attempt to add a little grounding to the whole affair - it's almost exactly the same as its predecessor in virtually every way. Yes rather than going for a more serious or toned-down version, this film merely attempts to recreate the magic of the original, and there it has to be said that they did a surprisingly fine job of it.
From a story perspective the narrative is extremely similar (kids and adults learn the power of imagination and help Dad solve a tricky problem at work) but then of course you've got all the stuff that brings the imaginary to life, and that's where things really work wonders. On the one hand there's the new production design - more realistic and slightly less set-based but no less magical, and then there's the animation and song sequences themselves which are just as spectacularly-realised in remarkably similar animation style only to be accompanied by more brilliantly catchy tunes from Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman. But equally it has to be said none of that would have paid off had it not been for the performances as Emily Blunt in particular excels to truly make Poppins her own, and the father Ben Wishaw deserves some serious credit as well for unlocking some rather moving moments in the film too.
All in all then it is a very faithful recreation of the magic of beforehand and actually feels like a sequel that was made a couple of years after the original rather than over fifty. That's an admirable thing, and it will undoubtedly deliver plenty for audiences to smile about and will satisfy fans of the original as it really is so damn similar.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The fact it is almost identical to the first film not only throws up the debate about its overall worth; it also means that it shares the same issues - many of the musical numbers and imagination sequences feel a little relentless as they're effectively tangents of the overarching narrative.
VERDICT: A surprisingly faithful and surprisingly successful recreation of the magic of the original film, Rob Marshall's 'Mary Poppins Returns,' is almost identical to its predecessor in virtually every way, and that's both a good and bad thing.