Osage's Take On...SAVING MR. BANKS (DVD; Disney/Buena Vista) - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 4 Old 04-01-14, 07:21 PM Thread Starter
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Osage's Take On...SAVING MR. BANKS (DVD; Disney/Buena Vista)

Releasing/Participating Studio(s): Disney/Buena Vista
Disc/Transfer Information: Region 1; Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 125 Minutes
Tested Audio Track: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Director: John Lee Hancock
Starring Cast: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak



Let’s get this out of the way right now – if you go into this thinking it was the beloved story of Walt Disney himself and how he built his iconic original Anaheim, California-based theme park before going on to create a studio world unlike the world had ever seen before, as I did based on the somewhat misleading trailers surrounding Saving Mr. Banks, you’re gonna be disappointed. This isn’t the story of Disney himself or how he created a globally iconic empire (as well as an equally instantly recognizable giant friendly rodent) but rather the tale of how the classic Mary Poppins story became associated with the Disney name. The title of the film is a bit confusing for those who never really got into the story as a kid (or, as I stated, are going into this thinking it is a story about Walt himself); the Mr. Banks reference is in regard to one of the Mary Poppins characters and eventually ties in to the author of the story’s life and connection with her own father. Director John Lee Hancock weaves somewhat of a thick web here, especially for a, of course, Disney-sanctioned film, using a filming style that becomes a bit off-putting after awhile what with the sequences flashing back and forth between early 1900’s Australia and late 1960’s London and California. Hancock attempts to dynamically fuse a lighthearted look at the iconic man behind Mickey Mouse, his legacy and his theme parks with serious overtones concerning P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, and her own disturbed childhood which became inspiration, seemingly, for the book. According to Hancock, Mr. Disney had been so smitten with the story for so many years – as had many others – that he simply had to own the rights to it in order to make it into one of his legendary films. As Disney discovered, doing that was not going to be an easy task.

Perhaps stealing the whole show here –aside from Colin Farrell who plays Travers’ real-life alcoholic father to a frightening tee – is Tom Hanks’ rendition of the legendary Disney. In my opinion, he was spot on, based on the highlight reel material I’ve seen as well as the interviews with him on some past Disney behind-the-scenes material attached to such Blu-rays and DVD s as Pirates of the Caribbean. Truthfully, Hanks is really the only reason to see this film – the overtly long running time makes it difficult to sit through given the melodramatic material on display here, but Hanks’ rendition of Disney was sheer entertainment. From most of the facial gestures to the mustache and the overall look of Disney’s world around him, this was charming to experience. Was Hanks perfect? No. But from a historical accuracy perspective, Hancock got it pretty much nailed – same with the 1960’s-era clothing, environments, cars, etc.

Again, the biggest problem here is that Saving Mr. Banks was about a character, essentially, in Travers’ book and how Disney “saved” him (and in doing so “saved” the memory of the author’s own demons regarding her father)…the whole thing is thick and too plodding for a Disney story, I felt, and it should have concentrated more on Walt and his awesome park in Anaheim (though there is a cool, filmed-on-location sequence which depicts Travers and Disney in Disneyland walking down Main Street). And, as I said, making things worse was a difficult-to-swallow-after-awhile back-and-forth intertwining involving flashbacks of Travers’ past that sometimes made the narrative difficult to follow. Emma Thompson plays Travers to the hilt, portraying her as the quintessential snob of all snobs and one of the most difficult human beings to get along with. We get some good supporting performances from the likes of Paul Giamatti, who portrays Travers’ limo driver to and from Disney’s offices and Jason Schwartzman who portrays one of the musical directors working for Disney who collaborates with Travers for the realization of the film version of her book.

Saving Mr. Banks kicks off in London, where author P.L. Travers is discussing her timeless classic Mary Poppins in her home, and the fact that Mr. Walt Disney himself wants to discuss rights to make it into a film. Soon, strange flashback sequences interlude which depict Travers as a young girl in Australia with her family – notably her alcoholic but loving father (Farrell) – and these scenes continue to break in between the 60’s-era sequences every few minutes all throughout the film’s running time. The point by Hancock was to show where some of Travers’ inspiration for the “Mr. Banks” character in her timeless story came from, but after awhile the sequences involving her childhood and what she experienced with her father start to feel like a totally different film we’re watching. Once Travers gets to L.A. to meet with Disney, all proverbial hell breaks loose.

Travers is a walking nightmare – a sullen, bitter, angry witch of a woman that can’t go a day without insulting everyone around her to simply make herself feel better. From the moment she boards the plane to fly from London to L.A. she’s insulting passengers, stewardesses and baggage handlers – up until the moment she’s greeted by Giamatti’s limo driver character, when she proceeds to insult him as well. But that’s just the beginning of this sandstorm – from the moment Travers walks into Disney’s office and is introduced to the team that will be helping make her book into a film, she’s a disastrous ticking time bomb filled with unrealistic expectations, unholy demands and a snarky demeanor that makes Disney’s crew think twice about working on this venture.

As the weeks pass and rehearsals for how the film is going to play out based on her book are scheduled, Travers eventually warms up to Disney and his people, even going so far as to take a stroll with the iconic mogul down Main Street of his Disneyland. I have to tell ya…if Walt Disney himself offered to take me on a personal tour of one of his parks, I sure wouldn’t have fought it the way Travers was portrayed as doing…I mean, this witch actually didn’t want anything to do with Disney or his “silly” theme park. Imagine? Travers is also put up at the legendary and ritzy Beverly Hills Hotel, where she doesn’t seem to like the suite she’s in or the fact that Disney had it filled with stuffed animals of all his favorite iconic characters like Mickey, Goofy and Donald; this woman is simply out of her mind and off the reservation if you know what I mean.

The flashback sequences involving Travers as a little girl revolve around a theme of alcoholism on her father’s behalf; he works as a bank manager in 1900’s-era Australia and is routinely fired and rehired due to his behavior from the drinking problem. Further, in one particularly jarring scene, the drinking becomes so bad it affects him on the day he’s supposed to give a speech on behalf of the bank and his own boss, causing him to embarrass his daughter on stage and eventually collapse to the ground below. When he begins to cough up blood, we know he doesn’t have much time (remember Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday in Tombstone?). For some sentimental, abstract reason that was lost on me, Travers’ father somehow becomes a representation of the thematic elements rampant in her Mary Poppins, something later discussed by Disney himself when he flies to London after Travers walks off the project and refuses to continue, thinking Disney went back on his promise that the film wouldn’t have any animated parts (a reference to the penguins in the film).

The concluding frames, depicting the Chinese Theater premiere of the Mary Poppins film in Hollywood, had a resonating charm to it as Disney actually had no plans of inviting Travers to the film’s premiere due to her unstable behavior and what it might do press-wise at the event – but when she storms into his office (these people fly between England and L.A. like you and I change underwear) and demands to know what that’s about, she of course ends up attending the premiere and actually behaving like a normal human being. Still, the specter of seeing some of her own personal demons with her father realized through Dick Van Dyke’s performance in the film becomes too much to handle in the theater during the premiere – with Disney himself sitting behind her – and she’s emotionally rocked.

I don’t know; I thought this was going to be different – I, like many others as I understand, was under the assumption that this was a story about Disney himself and the building of his empire. While Hanks saves it in the form of his charming, nearly uber-authentic rendition of the man himself and some other stars shine here, I can’t see ever wanting to revisit this again. As a Disneyland/Walt Disney World fan myself, and living with a wife that’s a bonafide Disney park nut, we agreed that we would have much rather seen a concentration on the legend himself and how he created the parks we all now know and love.


I was sent a standard DVD to review for Saving Mr. Banks, direct from a contact at Disney’s Buena Vista home video distribution arm office, and while I would have rather seen what the company did with the high definition transfer, the 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen image here was still a sight to behold. Save for some noisy, unstable image edges from time to time, the transfer was drenched in rich, deep hues that really showed off the quasi-golden California landscape on display in the 1960’s. Likewise for the sequences in London, which were rendered accurately when they appeared in the story; skin tones and flesh hues appeared accurate if every slightly oversaturated and detail was moderately impressive for an upconverted DVD.

What really stood out on this transfer were the sun-lit daylight sequences such as when Travers and Disney are walking about Disneyland in California – these scenes were coated in a golden yellow hue that really brought the yellows of dresses and costumes, the greens of foliage and the reds in costumes and backgrounds to vivid life. When Travers arrives in her Beverly Hills Hotel suite, she’s surrounded by bright, vibrant pieces of fruit in baskets and colorful, eye-popping stuffed animals that were all rendered vividly on the DVD. Blacks did not exhibit any noise, pixilation or macroblocking and shadow detail was consistent throughout.

A fine job by Buena Vista on this Disney DVD.


The disc’s Dolby Digital 5.1 track didn’t really stand out in any particular way; volume levels were pretty low, causing me to jack up my receiver’s master volume somewhat to get the dialogue clear and intelligible. There may have been one or two moments of surround activity, such as when the Travers character is at the airport or on the plane, but for the most part this was a front-heavy affair bordering on quasi-monoural, with audio seemingly firing from strictly the center position for the majority of the two hour runtime. Some brief separation and bleed into the left and right main channels was detected to accompany musical interludes and such, but this wasn’t a memorable audio experience to say the least.


If you’re remotely curious, give it a rental. I can’t recommend a purchase.

Last edited by Osage_Winter; 04-02-14 at 05:02 PM.
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post #2 of 4 Old 04-01-14, 07:41 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Osage's Take On...SAVING MR. BANKS (DVD; Disney/Buena Vista)

Some minor edits made to review; thank you.
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post #3 of 4 Old 04-02-14, 06:03 AM
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Re: Osage's Take On...SAVING MR. BANKS (DVD; Disney/Buena Vista)

Thanks for the review. I enjoyed the "May Poppins" movie and I should make time to read the book. I didn't realize it was based on a book actually.. In regards to this movie, I like Tom Hanks so will give this a try as a rental. Thanks.

p.s. You can't mention "Mary Poppins" without saying "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" lol.

Samsung UN75F8000 LED TV, NAD T-777 (7.2 Receiver), Oppo 103 Blu Ray Player, Sony PS4 Gaming Console, Wii U Gaming Console, Panamax MR-5100 Surge Protection, 7 Paradigm Reference series 8" in ceiling speakers (AMS-150R) - 30 degree tilting speakers, 2 Paradigm SE Sub

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post #4 of 4 Old 04-02-14, 05:01 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Osage's Take On...SAVING MR. BANKS (DVD; Disney/Buena Vista)

tripplej wrote: View Post
Thanks for the review. I enjoyed the "May Poppins" movie and I should make time to read the book. I didn't realize it was based on a book actually.. In regards to this movie, I like Tom Hanks so will give this a try as a rental. Thanks.

p.s. You can't mention "Mary Poppins" without saying "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" lol.
Hey Joe!

Thanks so much for checkin' in, my friend! If you were a fan of Mary Poppins or your kids are into the classic Disney features, this may hold interest for you -- please check back in and let me know what you thought if you do get around to seeing it!
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banks , disney or buena , dvd , mr , onsaving , osage , vista

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