It's almost immediately apparent that director Rob Marshall was the wrong hire for this movie.
While he directed 2002's Chicago to a Best Picture Oscar win - and scooped himself a Best Director nod in the process - every single film he's directed since has fallen far short of that bar.
Though Mary Poppins Returns is easily Marshall's best effort since Chicago, it's also clear that he's a thoroughly mediocre director who got lucky almost two decades ago with a more stagey effort better-tailored to the limits of his talents.
Right from the opening scene, Marshall's shot selections are uninspired and oddly un-cinematic, very nearly stripping the magic away from scenes which should be effortlessly enchanting.
Clearly a Mary Poppins sequel needed better than a safe, commercially successful choice like Marshall. What about Baz Luhrmann? He has many flaws of his own, sure, but even his worst movies don't want for style and panache.
Though the sheer heft of this production mostly carries Marshall to the finish line, it could've had so much more oomph with a stronger filmmaker at the helm.
Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes).
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