Mary Poppins Returns – here’s a round-up of the latest films 

Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt, will be in cinemas on December 21.
Mary Poppins Returns, starring Emily Blunt, will be in cinemas on December 21.

Grab the popcorn for these new releases. 

A spoonful of nostalgia – make that several heaped spoonfuls – helps the joy-infused medicine of Rob Marshall's 1930s-set musical fantasy go down in the most delightful way.

Based on the books by PL Travers, Mary Poppins Returns prescribes two hours of pure, sentiment-soaked escapism to banish the winter blues and jiggedy-jog our weary souls.

It's a lavishly staged carousel of whoop-inducing song and dance numbers that kicks up its polished heels in the face of cynicism and affectionately harks back to the 1964 Oscar-winning classic directed by Robert Stevenson.

Musical refrains from Chim Chim Cher-ee, Let's Go Fly A Kite and The Perfect Nanny among others are seamlessly woven into the lustrous fabric of Marshall's lavishly embroidered picture.

Emily Blunt is practically perfect in every way, making her entrance with a reverential nod to Julie Andrews – ‘Close your mouth, Michael. We are still not a codfish! – as the London-born actress makes this iteration of the role her own with effortless efficiency.

It has been a year since Michael Banks (Whishaw) lost his wife Kate, and with it the light in his heart to guide their children Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson).

His rabble-rousing sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) is helping to care for the brood but the grief-stricken father is three months in arrears on a bank loan secured against 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Unless Michael can repay his dues in full by the end of the week, the house will be seized by bank chairman William Wilkins (Colin Firth).

Thankfully, a high-flying kite snags magical nanny Mary Poppins (Blunt), who descends serenely with toes pointing out to rekindle sparks of joy in her former wards.

She is aided by luminous Cockney lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and Topsy (Meryl Streep), her eccentric ‘second cousin... many times removed’.

Before you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Marshall has us grinning ear to ear as we accompany the Banks clan on their fantastical odyssey, which includes one euphoric sequence festooned with hand-drawn animation.

Last year, we bathed in the giddy glow of The Greatest Showman. This Christmas and beyond, it's an exceedingly jolly 'oliday with Mary Poppins Returns.

Out tomorrow. 

Aquaman (12A) 

Oceans rise and standards fall in Aquaman, a bloated origin story for the eponymous DC Comics superhero which capsizes in a tsunami of splashy digital effects and melodramatic storytelling. 

Scriptwriters Johnson-McGoldrick and Beall crown a new king of Atlantis where armies of armoured crocodiles and seahorses clash in a titanic battle. 

Jason Momoa flexes his muscles in the title role, imbuing his reluctant heir with flashes of rough charm and humour. Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe, sporting a fetching man bun, buoy throwaway supporting roles and refuse to drown in the relentless onslaught of special effects trickery. We are not so fortunate.

Out now. 

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (PG)

Peter Ramsey, Bob Persichetti and Rodney Rothman's dazzling computer-animated adventure introduces a menagerie of gifted spider-folks, who tick myriad racial, socio-economic and anthropomorphic boxes.

There is a half-black, half-hispanic teenage hero, a sassy Asian female heroine, a grizzled old school crusader torn from the pages of a noir thriller, two markedly different reflections of Peter Parker ... and a talking pig.

This film employs a striking visual palette, which honours the comic books (the central character's internal monologue manifests as yellow caption boxes) as it confidently lives up to its billing as a pretty hardcore origin story.

Out now.