New Delhi, Jan. 4 -- The hollowest words uttered in Mary Poppins Returns are by Michael Banks when he throws away his beloved kite and says "No looking back." Not only does Rob Marshall's musical continually peek over its shoulder, Disney's entire strategy (outside of acquisition) now seems founded on looking back. This is true of Hollywood in general, now well and truly stuck in an endless cycle of repackage and refurbish. Audience cliques, flattered by the illusion of power, have become increasingly hostile to authorial innovation. This suits the studios fine – it's easy to greenlight the same old hits, slightly modified.

Mary Poppins Returns isn't a frame-by-frame remake like Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book. It's a sequel, with th...