Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Mary Poppins Returns . Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael's children through a difficult time in their lives.


The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92

Details:

Studio and Year: Disney - 2018
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 130 minutes
Genre: Musical

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos7.1.4/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep
Directed by: Rob Marshall
Music by: Marc Shaiman
Written by: David Magee
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: March 19, 2019
"Everything is Possible"
Synopsis:

“The Magic continues in Disney’s classic as Mary Poppins helps the Banks family remember the joy of being a child. Together with her friend Jack the lamplighter, fun is brought back to the streets of London in a celebration that everything is possible…even the impossible.” - Disney Home Entertainment

My Take:

Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) — just a child when Mary Poppins first visited 17 Cherry Tree Lane — is now a grown man raising his children Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) with help from his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer). Times are tough in Depression-era London but the winds begin to change and the enigmatic governess, whose unique magical skills can turn any ordinary task into a fantastic adventure, enters the lives of the Banks family once again, having not aged a single day. Teaming up with an old friend, Jack, they take the Banks children on a series of whimsical adventures, encountering colorful characters like Mary’s eccentric Cousin Topsy (Streep), Jack’s lovable band of leeries and bank executives William Weatherall Wilkins (Colin Firth) and Mr. Dawes Jr. (Van ****) — bringing life, love and laughter back into the home.

I am a fan of the original Mary Poppins classic and as such looked forward to seeing Mary Poppins Returns. I really enjoy Emily Blunt and hoped that her take on the character would live up expectations. Of course, she didn’t disappoint. The storyline is reminiscent of the original in that Mary Poppins arrives when needed most and finds a way to connect to everyone through the power of imagination and whimsical adventure. The song and dance numbers were a delight as are the performances by the children and cast. Both Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda handled their respective singing and dancing routines with aplomb. I just loved the cameos by Dick Van ****, Angela Lansbury and Meryl Streep, each of whom had the chance to sing, dance, or both.

Mary Poppins Returns probably won’t have the impact that its predecessor did but, that doesn’t stop it from being an entertaining movie musical that can be appreciated by genre fans from all generations.

Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for some mild thematic elements and brief action.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Dolby Atmos Rating: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Mary Poppins Returns comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Disney Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray Mary Poppins Returns was derived from a 3.4K source, finished on a 2K DI and upconverted to 4K.

Mary Poppins Returns is a period-based film that has a specific visual aesthetic which comes through quite naturally in this Ultra HD rendering. With a discernible increase in detail and depth, the image appears more vivid and lifelike when compared to the 1080p version, which is quite good in its own right. Primary colors are deeply saturated and pleasingly to the eye while whites appear bright and punchy. The scenes that take place at Topsy Turvy’s shop and at the park near the Banks’ home are especially engaging as the variety of secondary colors and earth tones pop nicely.

The film contains a multitude of sequences that take place in low/limited lighting, and the increased dimension in blacks and shadows enhances depth of field. I find the natural rendering of light via its discernible stages and incremental highlights to be one of the presentation's big pluses. This is the case during brightly lit exteriors, such as those at the park or during the bath time underwater adventure. On the flip side, dark elements mixed with bright highlights look terrific. The scene where Mary Poppins, Jack and the kids, enlist the help of the Lennies in order to turn back time is a prime example. The flittering lights set against the dark sky and shadowy background create a stark contrast that is enhanced by the application of HDR.

The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close-up and wide-angle photography that show off the superb rendering of detail. The shots of the interior of the Banks’ house, Topsy Turvy’s shop and the bank, look terrific, as even the finest minutia in the woodworking and various odds and ends can be visually realized. The film incorporates lots of CGI, and the differences in the rendering of effects against the real-life imagery, while occasionally apparent, didn’t offer any odd-looking proportions or deleterious softening.

Mary Poppins Returns looks excellent in both 1080p and Ultra HD, however, the Ultra HD rendering is noticeably a cut above.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be a fairly entertaining listening experience that made steady use of the platform. Its use of audio objects placed above is a mix of atmospherics and music. This is done quite well, and where applied, creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. I noticed that the front overhead channels were used for adding depth to the soundstage while the rear overhead channels contained more discrete sound objects/effects.

In addition to things like overhead pans where sounds move through the soundstage, there are several scenes, such as the one that takes place during the “China Bowl” adventure, that bring everything together. I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this Dolby Atmos presentation was, adding a complimentary element that elevated the experience of watching the film.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Mary Poppins Returns comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound.

Colors are effectively used in this film to help set the tone based upon the mood of the scene. The chroma range is broad and hues can vary from being sullen and inanimate to warm and inviting. Skin tones are beautifully rendered with natural highlights and descriptive variation. Images onscreen are exquisitely detailed and sharp with superb depth of field and visible texture during wide angle shots. Contrast is spot on and blacks are deep with revealing delineation that provides excellent perceptibility during scenes shot at night or in lower lighting. The video has a pristine quality that is free of video related artifacts.

The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track makes effective use of the surround platform and offers detail rich sonic clarity, and crystalline dialog reproduction. As you’d expect this mix doesn’t bombard you with aggressive surround sound. It applies it when appropriate and combines directional cues with supporting ambience that fills the listening area nicely. The front and rear sound field never collide but work in unison to render the soundtrack’s elements. Dynamic range and bass response are appropriate, adding thematic emphasis and resonating punch when called upon. This is a solid audio presentation that mates well with the source material.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Mary Poppins Returns Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Mary Poppins Returns Blu-ray
    • Deleted Song—“The Anthropomorphic Zoo” - In this early song sequence, Mary Poppins and the children visit a very special zoo where the humans and animals trade places.
    • The Practically Perfect Making of “Mary Poppins Returns” - Join filmmakers and cast on an amazing journey to embrace the legacy of the original film while making a fresh modern sequel.
    o Introduction - Filmmakers and cast remember the first Mary Poppins movie and share the thrill of working on “Mary Poppins Returns.”
    o “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky” - Discover how the team mined PL Travers' books for a fresh perspective on a much-loved character. Plus, meet the Banks children!
    o “Can You Imagine That?” - Be on location for Mary's iconic entrance from the sky, and explore the movie's original songs, inspired by the Sherman Brothers.
    o “Nowhere to Go but Up” - Experience being on set with the legendary Dick Van **** and Angela Lansbury, and celebrate the joy of choosing the right balloon!
    • Seeing Things From a Different Point of View”: The Musical Numbers of “Mary Poppins Returns” - Go behind the scenes and experience the film's production numbers from a new angle.
    o “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” - Led by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the cast performs the film's biggest production number, with dancing lamplighters, bicyclists and more!
    o “The Royal Doulton Music Hall” / “A Cover Is Not the Book” - Find out what it takes to create two musical extravaganzas inside an animated world, highlighted by dancing animated penguins!
    o “Turning Turtle” - Mary's eccentric cousin, Topsy Turvy, played by Meryl Streep, has an unusual house that turns this musical number upside-down.
    o “Can You Imagine That?” - Dive under the bubbles with the cast and crew to see how this exuberant number was created.
    • Back to Cherry Tree Lane: Dick Van **** Returns – Dick Van ****, who played Bert and Mr. Dawes Sr. in the first film, returns after 54 years to Cherry Tree Lane as Mr. Dawes Jr.
    • Practically Perfect Bloopers – There's nowhere to go but up with the cast and crew in this lighthearted collection of flubs, goofs and prop fails!
    • Deleted Scenes
    o Leaving Topsy’s – After their visit to Cousin Topsy, Mary, Jack and the children pause to take a look back.
    o “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” – The leeries light up the screen in this extended clip from the movie's biggest musical production.
    • Play Movie in Sing-Along Mode – Sing along with all your favorite songs as you watch the movie.
  • Digital Copy
Final Thoughts:

Mary Poppins Returns was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Original Song, and is an entertaining addition to the Disney Musical Film canon that stands beside is predecessor as wonderful family filmmaking. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Combo Pack from Disney featuring top notch Ultra HD video, engaging lossless surround sound, including a solid Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience and a fan friendly supplemental package. Mary Poppins Returns is highly recommended and deserves a place in the video collection of genre fans.
 
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems