The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

Saving Mr Banks: A Review

Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of Disney movies. Thank God for Walt Disney, whose creations are still loved and enjoyed the world over, and whose legacy will never die.

Saving Mr Banks tells the story of Walt Disney’s fight with author P.L. Travers to turn her books into a film. That film, of course, is Mary Poppins, which is an iconic film, still beloved by children and adults.

The problem is, I’m not entirely sure this story needs to be told. Pamela Travers, author of the Mary Poppins books, was an infinitely interesting person. She was bisexual, and by all accounts, a professional curmudgeon. Emma Thompson, who plays Mrs Travers in Saving Mr Banks, said in interview that Travers was the most complex person she’s ever had to play. However, in this film, Travers is portrayed as nothing more than a royal bitch who doesn’t want anyone to tamper with the story she’s created. Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) eventually gets to the bottom of the problem and empathises with Travers, resulting in what we all know was going to happen anyway: Travers signing over the rights to the story for use in film.

Betwixt the endearing battles of Disney and Travers lies Travers’ backstory: a highly imaginative but alcoholic father whom Travers adored. The best part about these flashbacks is Colin Farrell, who stretches his artistic wings and plays a character far more complex than first meets the eye. Rachel Griffiths is the “real” Mary Poppins, who promises to save the family. Disappointingly, Rachel’s nanny is relegated to cameo status with no real story there at all. I suppose if the story had switched to her, the film wouldn’t be called Saving Mr Banks

The film runs at two hours, ten minutes. It’s far too long and missing the traditional Disney magic. It does, however, contain plenty of other Disney traits such as cheesiness and “everything is happy” moments. The principal actors are fantastic and cannot be faulted (except perhaps for Tom Hanks’ Southern accent), but with very little actual plot to work with, this really just seems an excuse to pump out an adult Disney movie while the kids are in another theatre watching Frozen.

Bringing a classic children’s book to the screen may have been interesting to those involved, but it really didn’t deserve to have its own movie. I await the film franchise showing J.K. Rowling’s issues getting Harry Potter to the screen.

6/10 popcorns



December 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: A Review

Ben Stiller directs and stars in this beautifully shot film, which traces a daydreamer who is forced to trek through the wilderness to find that one perfect photograph (and the person who took it).

Walter Mitty is a character which everyone can relate to. He takes the ordinary, everyday situations and imagines how they could have gone. This is something I know I do all the time. People tell him he’s a daydreamer, but he’s just exploring the possibilities of what life might be.

Despite not being the biggest Ben Stiller fan, I thought his performance as Walter was brilliant. And the plot- well, here’s where I think it falls down. The cinematography was outstanding, full of nuances for film students to dissect and enjoy. However, pretty things to look at don’t make the film worth watching.

It’s entirely predictable: a daydreamer gets out and does real stuff. I found the premise flawed- the trek to find a photographer with one perfect photograph was a poor excuse despite having a jerk boss pressuring you to do so. What freelance photographer would be completely without any communication device anyway? And while I’m picking this apart, why does Mr Mitty have cell phone reception atop the Himalayas?

Two scenes in particular show that this could have been comedic: a scene parodying The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and a scene with a drunken helicopter pilot drinking from a tall, glass boot. However, they’ve chosen to go with an introspective drama which fails to have any substance. It didn’t even leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy after the film finished. I concede that this was probably because I was mentally tying up all the loose ends and counting off the narrative conventions that still needed closure…

The supporting cast were fantastic and can’t be faulted. Kristen Wiig as Cheryl is everything you’d want her to be. Shirley Maclaine shines in every role, this one is no exception (although her major plot point in on the edge of plausibility). Sean Penn’s small role is pivotal to the story and he plays this perfectly.

Something I didn’t know was that this film has been filmed before, in 1947 starring Danny Kaye. I believe that this earlier version is quite a bit different to the Ben Stiller version, and I’m interested in seeing it also (I love Danny Kaye).

Overall, it’s a lovely film but lacks anything cerebral.

6/10 popcorns.

December 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment