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Featured Blu-ray Review: Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition

December 9th, 2013

Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

It's the 50th anniversary of Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks is about to hit theaters. It's the perfect time for the film to make its high definition debut. So how does it look on Blu-ray? And is the total package worth picking up? Or should you stick with the 45th Anniversary DVD, which I previously reviewed?

The Movie

We are first introduced to Mary Poppins, who is floating above London on a cloud, before coming down to earth to meet Bert. Bert is a street-musician, chimney sweep, and more. He's performing for a crowd when he gets a sense of what is about to come. He then tells the audience about number 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane is the home to the Banks family. There's Mr. Banks, a banker, who is so dedicated to his job that he neglects his family. Then there's Mrs. Banks, a suffragette, who is so dedicate to her job that she neglects her family. As a result, the kids, Jane and Micheal, are a little... rambunctious.

As the movie begins, they've chased away yet another nanny. This is the sixth time this has happened, so now Mr. Banks has decided to be in charge of choosing the next nanny. After coming up with the perfect set of criteria for a nanny, the kids give their own list of what would make a perfect nanny. After the kids leave, Mr. Banks tears up the note and calls the newspaper giving them his list for an advertisement. Many perspective nannies show up ready to apply for the job, but they are blow away by a wind just as Mary Poppins shows up. She still has to get hired by Mr. Banks, but after he spots the note his children wrote, the one he tore up. He's so confused that Mary Poppins essentially hires herself.

With that, Mary Poppins is in charge of Jane and Micheal and after cleaning their room, it's off to the park where they meet up with Bert and that's when the magic begins.

Mary Poppins is considered a classic, and for good reason. I think the most negative thing you can say about the movie is it lacks a cohesive narrative. I don't think it is unfair to say the film is episodic bouncing from one adventure to another without moving the plot along. These adventures are compelling enough that they don't need to move the plot to enjoy them. Some of the special effects have not aged well, which is understandable, given the age of the movie. Plus, even if you are used to state of the art digital effects, the old school effects do have their charms. There are several catchy songs, including "Chim Chim Cher-ee", which won the Oscar, while "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" are among the best songs in the Sherman Brothers' career.

The Extras

There are not a lot of new extras for the Blu-ray. There's a Mary-Oke, which has four songs you can sing-along with. There's also Becoming Mr. Sherman, which is a featurette with Richard Sherman and Jason Schwartzman, who plays Richard Sherman in Saving Mr. Banks. Admittedly, it's not unfair to call this a promotional piece for the upcoming movie, but it is still very interesting. The old extras are still here, including the audio commentary track, a look at the stage production, making of the movie, archival footage of the world premiere, and much more.

The technical presentation is fantastic, especially when you consider the age of the film. The level of details is outstanding, so much so that the old age make-up is a little more noticeable than on DVD. The colors are absolutely popping and the contrast is spot-on. There are no signs of print damage and the only issues that arise are due to the nature of the special effects. When you take groundbreaking effects and add 50 years, the end result is going to be telling. The audio is just as good as the video with a 7.1 surround-sound track that is surprisingly active for a simple stereo original recording.

The Verdict

Mary Poppins is a must have. Even if you own the 40th Anniversary Edition DVD or the 45th Anniversary Edition DVD, the 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray is an essential addition to your home collection.

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Filed under: Video Review, Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews, Glynis Johns, Jason Schwartzman, Dick Van Dyke, Richard M. Sherman, David Tomlinson, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber