Happy nostalgia! During the holidays, I managed to see four movies in the theater. First it was all about the superheros (see my review of Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and Aquaman), and then came two films that went straight to my childhood.
Let’s break it down.
I went into Bumblebee with a lot of trepidation. I’ve had very mixed reactions to the Transformers movies, and actually never got around to seeing the last two. However, Bumblebee has always been my favorite Transformer (I think his 1980s action figure might still be somewhere in my parents’ basement), and this looked like it might be a departure from some of the things that annoyed me about the other films. Plus, my parents wanted to see it.
At any rate, I’m glad we went, because the movie is a lot of fun. Bumblebee is delightful as he stumbles through adjusting to Earth (a problem complicated by damage to his memory cells) and forms a bond with Charlie, his new human friend. (I definitely preferred Charlie and her family to the Witwicky clan of the first three movies. Did anyone else groan when Sam’s parents came to visit in Dark of the Moon?) The action beats are appropriately paced, and very well done. The scope of the fights fits the scale of the movie, and are exciting without being overwhelming.
The movie is set in the 1980s, and this affects more than just the props and scenery. The soundtrack is filled with period favorites, there are several fun references to The Breakfast Club, and we even get over the top rich kid bullies. The film is firmly grounded in its era, and I really appreciated that.
The storyline is fairly predictable, and at times goes a little cheesy, but that’s really a minor quibble. In my opinion, Bumblebee is definitely worth it. And robot fights are cool. I just needed to say that.
Mary Poppins Returns
Does Mary Poppins Returns measure up to Mary Poppins? That’s the question everyone seems to be asking, and I honestly think it’s the wrong question. The first movie has over fifty years of memories, cultural relevance, and resonance. It’s a cherished childhood experience and a true classic. I’m not sure it’s even possible to find the level of objectivity necessary to answer that question.
So instead, I pose this one: Is Mary Poppins Returns a worthwhile sequel to the beloved film?
I say yes. It takes us back to the setting, atmosphere, and magic of the original. It pays homage to many of the touchstones of Mary Poppins, including the critical live action/animated musical number. The grown up incarnations of Jane and Michael Banks are completely believable based on their characterizations as children. Emily Blunt had some very big shoes to fill, but she pulls it off, with a portrayal of Mary that feels very close to Julie Andrews’ interpretation of the role.
Critical reception has been mixed, with the average trending toward “meh”, but personally, I think that if you liked Mary Poppins, you should give Mary Poppins Returns a try.
Have you seen Bumblebee or Mary Poppins Returns? Do you want to see them? Any other good movies in theaters right now? Let’s discuss!