A few points on this remake in sequel's clothing:
1. Lacking 99% the charm of Julie Andrews, Emily Blunt tries her best, but often comes off as short-tempered, narcissistic and uncaring. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a great stand-in for Dick Van Dyke, but isn't as interesting or as funny.
2. The songs are (mostly) lovely, but they are only vaguely memorable.
3. It's clear from the opening pre-credits number that the film was a bit of a structural mess, but each scene is fine for editing. I'm not sure they knew how to piece all the bits together.
4. The Poppins magic is lost by talking about the Poppins magic. Leave it all a mystery, instead it's made into this tangible thing that is given an explanation despite claiming no explanation is needed.
5. I have never seen Colin Firth so bored-looking.
6. While the original was notable for its fun sub-plot-like adventures, this film really does turn these sub-plots into mini adventures, but some are completely illogical and irrelevant (not in the fun Mary Poppins way, but rather in a "I'm a movie executive, and i demand a chase sequence and a love story" kind of way). One major subplot is actually left unresolved, and if you think about it, it's all Mary Poppin's fault
Seriously, how are the kids going to get the bowl back? Can they even find the shop without her?
It's all a little too anti-septic, too calculated. The joy of "Mary Poppins" was the unpredictability mixed with confident charm. Instead, we see the entire resolution to the plot in the opening 30 mins and then wait for the characters to catch up. The emotional metaphors mixed up in this hugely foreshadowed plot are thin at best.
Moreover, the plot resolution completely sells out the original's anti-capitalist (or at least charitable works=good) messages. "Look Michael, thanks to compound interest which the Bank takes a cut of, you've helped yourself instead of that fat old lady with the birds. Good for you. Yay capitalism!"
All in all, it's fine, I just wish it took more risks, but there's merchandise to sell.
2 stars out of 5