March continues to trudge along with another week of slim pickin’s. But we kick it off with a sequel to a beloved Disney film, Mary Poppins Returns. Emily Blunt fills Julie Andrews substantial heels as the magical nanny who returns to the Banks house in Depression era London once again to look after the now grown up Banks children, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane (Emily Mortimer). Michael and his children Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) have had a rough year after losing Michael’s wife, and now their beloved home could be repossessed. But just as when they needed her as children, Mary Poppins returns to help the family rediscover joy and wonder.
One thing Disney and director Rob Marshall should be given heaps of credit for is how authentic and classic Mary Poppins Returns feels. It does not at all feel like a modern film, from the wonderful music to the classic style animated sequences to the performances as a whole, this entire film feels like it belongs side by side with the original 1964 film. I don’t know what it is exactly that they did to achieve this as many sequels to classic films cannot do it, but this film is full of humor and wonder and is a perfect film for the whole family. And although I may get a thrashing for it, I might even go so far as to say it is more enjoyable than the original. Not to mention the 4K transfer is absolutely stunning and immersive, it almost looks 3D. Mary Poppins Returns is very highly recommended.
Next up is another surprise from 2018, the animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a typical New York teen, dealing with growing up, school, and friends. He also happens to have been bitten by a radioactive spider and is dealing with some pretty crazy new powers, just like New York’s favorite hero, Spider-Man. When Miles witnesses the murder of Spider-Man by criminal The Kingpin, who also opens a portal in space/time that may destroy the world, Miles teams up with many different incarnations of Spider-Man from other dimensions to stop The Kingpin and set things right in the universe.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse deservedly won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and is one heck of a sight to behold. Not only is the story incredibly well written and full of emotion, humor and action, with top notch voice acting, but the visuals on this film, which literally look like a comic book come to life, are pure eye candy. Many people are praising this as the best screen version of Spider-Man yet and I would have a hard time arguing that point. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not only the best animated film of the year, but one of the best movies of the year period.
Since the selection is sparse this week I wanted to take this time to highlight a film released a few weeks ago that is well worth checking out, Rampant. Prince Ganglim (Hyun Bin) is a young prince in the Joseon era of Korea, returning home after a 10 year absence. But upon his return he discovers aside from much political strife in his homeland, it has also been overrun by legions of zombies running wild. Alongside some rebels, the prince must try and rescue his pregnant sister and find a way to protect his home from legions of the undead.
Rampant is from the makers of the unbelievably awesome Train to Busan and while it doesn’t quite reach the entertainment levels of that film, it is a really entertaining action/zombie film with the cool twist of setting it in ancient Korea. The blend of drama, kung-fu and horror are well balanced, the cast are all excellent and the cinematography is gorgeous. If you find yourself torn on movie night between a good action movie and a good horror movie look no further, Rampant checks all the boxes.
Also of note this week, if you need a companion piece to Rampant, check out Iceman: The Time Traveler with Donnie Yen from a couple of weeks ago, great kung fu blended with some awesome sci-fi elements. You can never go wrong with Donnie Yen. Also out is the Blu-ray debut of the Cheech Marin comedy classic Born in East L.A., and the Criterion Collection Blu-ray release of Detour.
Until next week movie lovers!
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday March 19, 2019
Born in East L.A. (1987)*
Detour* - Criterion Collection
Doctor Who: Tom Baker Complete Season Seven
Eagle's Wing (1979)*
Far from Heaven*
Lord of War 4K
Lovers and Other Strangers*
Mary Poppins Returns
MST3K: Volume X.2
Ned Kelly (2003)*
On Her Shoulders
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Strip Nude for Your Killer*
Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came? (1970)*
The Deadly Mantis (1957)*
The Minion (1998)*
The Witches (1966)*
Wanda* - Criterion Collection
WWE: Royal Rumble 2019
*Catalog Blu-ray debut