Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock, 2013) Review

Time to enter a new year with a film I saw...just before 2013 ended. I was planning on doing reviews before New Years but I've been ill so that wasn't going to happen. At any rate, the evening I went to see this film, Mary Poppins just happened to be on and ended right before I left to the cinema which is something I would recommend you do. Watch Mary Poppins to refresh your memory of the film and then take a look at Saving Mr.'re gonna need to remember that film.

In the 1960s, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the author of Mary Poppins, is in a copyright war against Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) who wants to make a film based on Travers' work but she is reluctant to hand over the rights to her creation. She is given partial creative control and visits Walt Disney Studios to work with the Sherman Brothers (B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman) and screen writer Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford). As Travers steps in to the creative decisions more and more, her childhood seems to make an influence on her as she recalls her relationship with her father (Colin Farrell) and where the idea of Mary Poppins came from.

Why haven't we seen films like this before? I have never seen a film that was a dramatisation of making a film (an iconic one at that) especially one from the perspective of writing, not the directing. Saving Mr. Banks lets us see film making from a perspective that is rarely seen (or, if it has, please show me) and tells a fascinating story about the inception of an iconic film. It's well written and well put together. While some might end up arguing that it does twist history a bit, you don't really mind when watching this because you are brought into the fascinating world of Disney and the making of a real Disney film. I think this is the first time that an actor has portrayed Walt Disney in a film and it works very well. The only loose bit is the overuse of flashbacks but it does make sense in context and does tie everything together.

The films strongest point is the acting. The promotional material would have you believe that this is a duo piece between Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. It is not. This is Emma Thompson's film through and through. Tom Hanks plays more of a supporting role and does a decent job. Sure it's obviously just Tom Hanks but he does capture the spirit of Walt Disney. Emma Thompson is fantastic as P.L. Travers and shows this off best when she has to balance the strict, stern side with the heart-broken and traumatised side. I definitely see her on track for an Oscar. Speaking of Oscars, I think the surprise actor here is Colin Farrell as her father. This is easily his best acting in any film he's done and I will be very surprised if he isn't at least nominated. Supporting actors such as Jason Schwartzman and Paul Giammati are also very likable. The film seems to run on likability which, considering this is a film about the inception of one of the most whimsical films every made, is to be expected.

Saving Mr. Banks was a captivating film that runs on likability. Some may argue that it does up the whimsy in the flashback scenes, the acting is amazing, the writing is stop on and it looks very nice indeed. It's practically perfect in every way...emphasis on practically. With two guarantee Oscar nominees, I whole-heartily recommend Saving Mr. Banks...although it's probably out of the cinema by now...sorry about that, bit late on that one.

Does an excellent job of telling a fascinating story surrounding one of the most iconic films to date.

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