Saving Mr. Banks (Blu-ray Review)

Saving-Mr-BanksDisney’s 2013 Oscar hopeful, Saving Mr. Banks has come to Blu-ray.  Boasting stellar performances by Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, it stunned many when all it got nominated for was Best Original Score (Thomas Newman).  No matter, the film received plenty of other award recognition with some wins and was a rousing success at the box office, raking in over $112 million for just a $35 million budget.  It tells the story of a time during a golden age for the Mouse House, and the struggle with the creative process on developing one of the all time classics, Mary Poppins.   So, take your spoon full of sugar and grab your kite as we take to the sky and  chim chiminy chim chim review this Blu-ray.  What?  I’m in the spirit!

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Ah, the tale of making Mary Poppins into a movie.  Saving Mr. Banks follows the head butting of author PL Travers and Walt Disney in trying to adapt her character of Mary Poppins to the big screen.  While Travers struggles with the creative team and whether or not she’s really wanting to share her creation with the studio, her childhood dealings with an alcoholic father are told as well.  But, suspense is not to be had as we all can hum and sing the entire soundtrack knowing that Mary Poppins would get produced and become one of film’s most important entries in it long storied history.  It took 20 years, but finally Dick Van Dyke would dance with penguins.

From what I have read, this isn’t a wholly accurate portrayal of how things went down with making Mary Poppins.  And the Disney ending we’re left with really wasn’t so.  So, I guess to Poppins or Disney purists I could see this being like 2013’s version of what the 2012 film Hitchcock was to a lifelong Hitchcock enthusiast like myself.   The inaccuracies and characterizations can be a major difficulty to watch and keep one progressing through the film.  I myself grew up with a movie like Mary Poppins and aside from Disney specials talking about it in my youth, I’ve not dug very deep to know the story of how it all went down.  So, I didn’t have any sort of bias or extreme knowledge of the situation when I viewed it.

This is truly an Emma Thompson star vehicle with some great people surrounding her.  Although I couldn’t help but shake that I was watching an old woman version of Sheldon Cooper the entire film.  And she was doing a good job, because my frustrations while watching her in this rivaled that of the creative team she’s working with in the movie.  I just couldn’t stand all her constant objections and disagreement for disagreement sake.  I think part of the trouble is that we all know and love the Mary Poppins that came out of this, and its hard to sympathize with her views on things having this meta knowledge.  Its a tad humorous at the start, but started to wear my patience the more it progressed.

Supporting her is a good turn by Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.  And its hard not to love the guy.  His character approaches everything with such caution, but when its time to get down to business he handles it sternly, but in his own way.  I really enjoyed the creative team with the likes of Bradley Whitford, BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman.  And while they do get screen time, I felt like I didn’t get enough of them.  They provided some life and interest for me in the film and I really wish we could have had some more “alone time” with them figuring out story points and songs.  But alas, its not their movie.  And then you also have Paul Giamotti as the magical, super friendly car driver that really reveals what kind of old hat this movie is trying to be.

There was a lot of buzz and then disappointment when Saving Mr. Banks missed out on a lot of Oscar nominations recently.  I may be the odd one out, but I thought the film was “just okay”.  It was nice that they really truly focused on the business aspect of getting this done, but those scenes got way too repetitive and my little chuckles at things started to become yawns and checking the time to see how much was left.  But in the end, it did manage to suck me in on using the nostalgia for Mary Poppins to provide some touching final moments for our characters (even if I did just read that nothing really went down that way and that wasn’t the reaction).  Its a solid movie that I think a lot of people will enjoy more than me.  It just felt like a really good pedestrian kind of film.



Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2:40.1

Clarity/Detail:  This image is sharp sharp sharp.  Detail is very high (see Flesh Tones).  This is a super clean, super clear image.

Depth:  Some solid and natural depth.  Nothing incredibly striking, but distance-foreground/background-is displayed well.

Black Levels:  Black levels are ideal.  Even the darkest of blazers you can make out the pattern of the jacket.  Good and natural like shading throughout.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bold and varied.

Flesh Tones:  The highlight of this transfer.  The skin tones are nice, consistent, warm and lifelike.  Detail is extremely high and impressively at any distance.

Noise/Artifacts:  None that I could find.

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio Video Service, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a dialogue heavy film that has some moments of singing.  For what it was, it did everything really well.

Low Frequency Extension:  Not a whole lot to brag about as the source doesn’t really call for much use of your sub woofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Once again, a dialogue heavy film.  Most of the work in the surround is a low volume rendition of the score and ambient noise.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is crisp clear and loud.  It’s the most important aspect of this film, and everything sound lifelike and natural.

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Saving Mr Banks comes with a Digital Copy of the film.

Deleted Scenes – Contains 3 decently sized scene excised from the final cut of the film.

Stargaze (HD, 2:15)

Nanny Song (HD, 2:20)

Pam Leaves (HD, 2:27)

The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins To The Present (HD, 14:35) – A sort of look back at the time period Walt Disney Studios was at when Mary Poppins was made, lead by the film’s director and featuring interviews with artists, songwriters and next of kin of those crafts.  This little piece has an aesthetic and is better films than a lot of movies I’ve had to review for Why So Blu.

“Let’s Go Fly A Kite” (HD, 1:47) – The cast and crew sings “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” together on the last day of shooting.

Sneak Peeks – Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Parks, Sleeping Beauty, Mary Poppins, Maleficent.

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Saving Mr Banks is a solid movie with a tremendously good presentation.  However, as is the norm of late, there’s really not much here in the way of extras.  The “From Poppins To The Present” featurette is pretty good, but there could have been a lot more added to this disc considering this film deals with a studio during such an historic time.  While I wasn’t too big on the film like others, it did make me want to go out and buy the Blu-ray of Mary Poppins right away.  But, if you’re in it just for the film, this disc features fantastic video and audio.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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