Mamma Mia Here We Go Again review: Take a chance on this musical sequel, ten years on from the release of the first movie – you might just be glad you did.
Mamma Mia Here We Go Again review by Andrew Gaudion.
There’s been a lot of articles and essays this past week marking the 10th anniversary of The Dark Knight. Makes sense. Christopher Nolan’s movie did redefine not only the comic-book genre but also Hollywood action cinema in general. But another film came out in the same week: Mamma Mia! No slouch itself, the adaptation of the stage musical based around the songs of Swedish super pop group ABBA, grossed over $600 million worldwide. The way the world is marking the 10th Anniversary of that particular hit is with its very own sequel. So, dust off your jumpsuits and slip on your platforms, as the party is back and much of the spirit that made the original such a hit remains.
Operating as both a sequel and a prequel, the film follows Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) five years after the events of the first film, who is opening up a hotel on her home island of Kalokairi, named after her mother Donna (Meryl Streep) who passed away a year before. All the while we also see how her mother came to settle on the island, as a young Donna (played by Lily James) graduates and sets out to find her place in the world.
‘Here We Go Again’more than has the same amount of campy charm that powered the original through its awkward performances and vocal bum notes. What’s different this time around is that the campness is paired with a lot more melodrama. It would be fair to say that Sophie is not in the best place when we catch-up with her, with her mother gone and her three fathers (Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth) all dealing with their grief in various ways.
The film, therefore, doesn’t quite carry the same amount of immediate campy joy as the original, if only because it is trying to add a little more depth to the proceedings. Some will probably question why a sequel like Mamma Mia has to add more depth, but it does make the most of the infectious joy all the more joyous when they do come along. It does mean though that some of the energy is sapped out of the film from time to time during moments when it cuts back to Sophie on the island, even if it’s in the service of offering more in the way of drama.
Much of the energy and joy does come from following Lily James as a young Donna, meeting Sophie’s potential father’s as she makes her way to the Greek islands. James is an utter joy to watch on the screen, and her singing voice is easily one of the strongest across the cast. The rest of the younger counterparts are also entertaining, particularly Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davis as the younger counterparts of Christine Baranski and Julie Walters (who remain two of the comedic highlights themselves). And of course, Cher is along for the ride this time as Sophie’s estranged Grandmother. She gets gifted an entrance that fans will adore, more than paying off a great level of build up.
A concern some may have with a sequel to Mamma Mia is that it may be little thinly stretched on the song front, with the first one already has used some of the best hits that ABBA ever produced. Some of those hits are repeated, but there are also some welcome additions here from a lovely rendition of ‘Andante, Andante’ to ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’ and a Cher and Andy Garcia duet of ‘Fernando’ (never thought I’d be typing that sentence). The songs are also more organically integrated into the context of the film than they were before, with Ol Parker’s script and direction an improvement over the first throughout.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again should once again get fans standing in the aisles, dancing and singing along to their favourite hits and having a blast with a charming cast. They are all, once again, clearly having an absolute ball, a sensation that is very easy to get on board with, largely down to the fact that ABBA is infectious and the film this time around is simply better crafted. It is still campy fluff, but that’s the name of the game!
Mamma Mia Here We Go Again review by Andrew Gaudion, July 2018.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is released in cinemas on Friday 20th July 2018.