P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) has avoided selling the rights to her popular book Mary Poppins to Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) close to two decades now. However, as she is financially in trouble, she is forced to make a difficult decision, selling her rights or lose everything she has. Having agreed to fly out to California with the idea that she has final say on everything Mary Poppins related, Mrs. Travers is ready to mold the movie she wants to make, but her convictions and regard for her literary work is keeping her conflicted about the movie. But Walt and his writing crew are not ready to give up and are willing to make Mary Poppins at any cost.
Saving Mr. Banks tells the rocky road that Walt Disney went through in order to convince P.L. Travers to bring Mary Poppins to the big screen. Saving Mr. Banks did not come with the popular disclaimer “This is based on a true story”, so naturally I assumed that Disney took many freedoms with this movie. After all, adapting the true-life events might have posed some difficulties without taking liberties in order to make it entertaining.
Knowing the beginning and the outcome of the movie can definitely leave anyone with mixed feelings if the story in between these two segments is not good. Saving Mr. Banks for better or worst has left me with some reservations. On one hand, there’s no suspense or intrigue since we know that Mary Poppins was ultimately made, at least from common knowledge or the fact that the Blu-ray was released a few months ago (this cannot be a spoiler), and we know that good old’ Walt and Mrs. Travers went through a whole lot to get this movie made. On the other hand, having Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in the same movie is a joy to watch.
The film relies heavily on flashbacks that tell us P.L. Travers’ back story. This technique ends up being somewhat detrimental to the movie. There were far too many flashbacks. However, a few of these flashbacks give the viewers a better understanding of Travers’s character. The first part of the film is slow and it becomes quite obvious that the director saves all the best parts for the second half of the film. Once Travers’s character has a few revealing flashbacks we can actually comprehend her initial refusal to making the movie, our perception of the character is changed with a few critical scenes. Point being that the film could have been much stronger if the flashbacks would be been cut or better placed in the story. As previously mentioned, we know the outcome to the story so it was up to the filmmakers to piece together the puzzle in between. Taking liberties to make it happen in the process while trying to remain faithful to the life events seems to have worked. I do wish the storytelling was more stronger as it stands now, it feels like doesn’t have a good replay value. Saving Mr. Banks remains a good entertaining movie but I know it’s not the best effort from Disney. But it still remains far from the worst.
Saving Mr. Banks arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. For the most part, the video transfer is gorgeous, capturing part of the hot and dry Australian terrains and at flip of the scene the sunny Southern California. But despite all these changes of scenery, the video quality is very good; the flesh tones are natural and lifelike even in the flashback scenes. I will note that the flesh tones appear somewhat warm in a few scenes. The color palette remains very natural and despite the minor yellowish tint, the image looks great. Black levels very deep and inky and do not lose any details. The detailing in the picture superb with very revealing close ups and the 60s aesthetics look very good. Saving Mr. Banks features another great transfer from Disney.
The audio tracking for Saving Mr. Banks features a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily dialogue driven, but a few musical segments gives us a glimpse of what the track is capable is doing. The dialogue is clean and clear with good prioritization. The rears provide good support for atmospherics, but also allows the music and soundtrack to flow without issue. The few music pieces really come alive. Saving Mr. Banks sounds good on Blu-ray.
The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to the Present (14:35) – This piece draws anecdotes from various individuals who saw and interacted with Walt Disney during the time when Mary Poppins was being created. Great piece to compliment the movie.
Let’s Go Fly a Kite (2:00) – On the last day of film Saving Mr. Banks, the real Richard Sherman joins the movie crew to play “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” on the piano while the crew sings along.
Deleted Scenes – There’s a total of three deleted scenes: Stargaze (2:15), Nanny Song (2:02), and Pam Leaves (2:27).
I had higher expectations for Saving Mr. Banks, the cast certainly sounded promising with Hanks and Thompson as the leading actors, but somehow the film did not meet all expectations. It is definitely entertaining and it offers viewers a chance to see the story behind Mary Poppins while taking some liberties with the story, it still remains watchable. The video and audio are great and the supplements feature some excellent pieces, especially The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to the Present. The latter is an excellent piece for any Disney fan and it greatly compliments the film. Saving Mr. Banks is recommended.