When it was announced that Tom Hanks would be the first modern day actor to embody Walt Disney on the big screen, fans were cautiously optimistic. But when “Saving Mr. Banks” finally came out, tears flowed as this film offered so much more than a simple story of the making of “Mary Poppins.” Hanks and Thompson are perfect in their leading roles while the general feeling of the film wonderfully embodies the Disney spirit.
Now on Blu-ray, “Saving Mr. Banks” is still a fantastic movie. It looks and sounds great and instantly draws viewers in from its opening moments until the credits roll. Music is at the heart of the movie and comes across beautifully on the home release.
Unfortunately, the limited bonus features fail to grasp the same sense of history and importance that the film’s drama does. Perhaps Disney didn’t want to tell the “real” story on the same disc that presents the Hollywood dramatized version. But the extras that are included barely scratch the surface of what could have been a brilliant series of mini documentaries.
Filmmakers dove deep into the Walt Disney Archives and Research Library to make set decorations, props, costumes, and other elements of the film accurate to real life. Disneyland was even redressed to its decades-old look. And yet none of these efforts are shown off on the Blu-ray release. There really is no true “making of” feature included, which is incredibly disappointing, as is the total lack of an exploration of how Tom Hanks portrayed Walt Disney.
Instead, “The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to the Present” merely scratches the surface of these topics, showing how the Walt Disney Studios looked largely the same years ago as it does today. Songwriter Richard Sherman joins the film’s director to explore a few interesting places on the studio lot, but other than some amusing stories the extra never really goes anywhere important. “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” offers a fun look at the last day of filming as Sherman plays the song on the movie’s “rehearsal room” piano while the cast and crew sing along. It’s a nice impromptu moment. Included deleted are fully polished and worth watching, as they do add to the film.
Despite the inclusion of these decent extras and a great movie, Disney fans wanting to know how filmmakers recreated Walt’s world will still be left in the dark, leaving only what’s seen on screen during the movie to be marveled at frame-by-frame picking out all the tiny details hidden in each scene. Fortunately, the movie is good enough to want to do just that.
“Saving Mr. Banks” is available now on Blu-ray from Amazon and all major retailers.