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Saving Mr. Banks - Blu-ray Review

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Savign Mr. banks - Movie Review

5 stars

At the center of Saving Mr. Banks, the fascinating back-story of how Disney’s beloved classic Mary Poppins made its way to the big screen, is the relationship between the book’s prickly author, P.L. Travers and Walt Disney himself. A relationship that could be described as bluntly disagreeable at best and downright acrimonious at worst.

It’s widely known the author was less than happy with the dreadful thought of having her book adapted to a movie, and the notion of signing the rights over to Disney’s team – which wanted to turn it into a musical with animation – was even less appealing.  “I won’t have her (Mary Poppins character) turned into one of your silly cartoons,” snaps Travers. But low book sales and declining income force the author to reluctantly hear Disney’s pitch.

We discover the root of Travers’ (Emma Thompson) trepidation via a series of flashbacks that intersplice the main storyline which takes place during a two-week period, mostly in the rehearsal room on the Disney campus.

Travers’ imaginative story of Mary Poppins grows out of her childhood in Australia and the troubled relationship with her father (Colin Farrell) who was an alcoholic and struggled to keep his job as a banker. The pain of watching her father die a slow death spawned the Mr. Banks character of the Poppins story and allowed the author to keep his memory alive forever.

Watching Disney’s team eventually chip away at Travers’ tough facade to win her trust provides just one of the film’s many joys as Disney (Tom Hanks), Mary Poppins screenwriter Don Digradi (Bradley Whitford), and song writing brothers Richard and Robert Sherman (Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak), bring the children’s movie to life before our eyes while providing delightful behind-the-scenes insight into many of the iconic film’s most memorable moments.

Via honey-hued segments of Travers’ formative years, we learn why the color red is absent from Mary Poppins, and how sugar can help calm the nerves of an apprehensive child. As for the Poppins character, the inspiration comes from Traver’s great-aunt Ellie (Rachel Griffiths) who, clad in classic schoolmarm dress and clutching the iconic bird-headed umbrella, swoops in to nurse Travers’ ailing father.

These revealing scenes are certain to give Mary Poppins fans a greater appreciation of the film and even those unfamiliar with the material will get a playful kick out of our fly-on-the-wall view of a Disney film in-the-making.

Director Lee Hancock’s handling of the bitter back-and-forth between Disney and Travers is always entertaining while also lending a face-palming insight into the author’s notorious outlandish and uncompromising demands. Travers reportedly insisted that the entire two-week Poppins scripting process be recorded on audio tape, and an after-the-credits sequence of some of the actual recording leaves us wondering how any progress was made getting the books adapted with the author involved in nearly every step of the process. Disney was a great pitch man and we get a revealing sense of that trait as he becomes something of a therapist to Travers, laboriously uncovering the reasons behind her reluctance to turn over the story.

Saving Mr. Banks is a wonderful piece of art that touches all emotions while offering a penetrating view of the creative process and value of teamwork. Hanks’ folksy charm is captivating in the first film to depict Walt Disney, and Thompson gives an Oscar-worthy turn as her curmudgeonly Travers drives nearly every frame of the film. Paul Giamatti is, again, on top of his game as he’s one of the few to tap into Travers’ tender side as the chauffeur hired to drive her around Hollywood.

We know how it all ends, of course, as Disney’s Mary Poppins eventually went on to widespread acclaim, with Julie Andrews winning a Best Actress Oscar. But curiously overplayed is a thawing of the author’s icy resistance which never happened. So fervent and log-lasting was her hatred for the adaptation, that she would never again agree to another Poppins/Disney collaboration. But in true Disney fashion, seeing Travers attend the film’s premier on the arm of Mickey Mouse is giving the story an ending any true Mouse House fan would expect.

Savign Mr. Banks - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements including some unsettling images.
Runtime:
125 mins
Director
: Lee Hancock
Writer
: Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
Cast:
Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell
Genre
: Drama
Tagline:
Where her book ended, their story began.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I know what he's going to do to her - She'll be convolting, and twinkling."
Distributor:
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release Date:
December 13, 2013
Official Site:
movies.disney.com/saving-mr-banks
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
March 18, 2014.

Synopsis: Two-time Academy Award®–winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen. When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history. Disney presents “Saving Mr. Banks,” directed by John Lee Hancock, produced by Alison Owen, Ian Collie and Philip Steuer, and written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Executive producers are Paul Trijbits, Andrew Mason, Troy Lum and Christine Langan. The film will release in U.S. theaters on December 13, 2013, limited, and open wide on December 20, 2013.

Savign Mr. banks - Movie Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 18, 2014
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); iTunes digital copy
Region Encoding: Region-free

Walt Disney Home Entertainment presents Saving Mr. Banks on blu-ray with superb results. The 2.39:1 1080p AVC picture was photographed in Panavision on 35-mm film and the appearance is cinematically warm and rich. The color palette is nicely saturated with strong primaries and natural hues. Nothing is exaggerated. The bright scenes appear light and realistic. The contrast levels are perfectly balanced with deep blacks and excellent shadow delineation. This is a gorgeous-looking picture that exhibits warmth and great cinematography. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1-channel soundtrack is dialogue focused but perfectly complemented with a terrific music score that uplifts the proceedings throughout.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

The extra content provides only a bit more color to the film, in spite of what it suggests. First up is an all-too brief look at what went on behind the scenes. Then you get the cast and crew singing along to one of the classic Mary Poppins songs and, finally, three deleted scenes which add little to the movie. Upfront previews and an UltraViolet digital copy round out the release.

  • The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins To Present (15 min)
  • Let's Go Fly A Kite (2 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (7 min)

 

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