I know that this may sound preposterous, but I’ve never seen the original Mamma Mia in full, only just in snippets on HBO. So, I was hesitant to catch the sequel Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again. Here’s some good news though: If you’re in the same boat as me, I assure you that you will enjoy the film just the same. The same cast consisting of Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, and, of course, the fabulous Meryl Streep, all reprise their roles for this reunion of sorts, a decade after its first release, still featuring more of the songs from the 1970s Swedish pop group ABBA.
Having caught some musical numbers on cable before, I was quite familiar with the songs featured in the original film. This time, they showcase the other amazing, though lesser known songs of ABBA and I can just imagine that if you’re from this generation, you would really have a blast in the cinema. I still completely delighted in the sound trip although it felt like a re-introduction to the 70s disco sound for me. This only proves that their music is timeless. +3
From the snippets I’ve seen before, I already gathered what the story of Donna (Meryl Streep) and Sophie’s (Amanda Seyfried) three dads was all about. This time around, the sequel delves into Donna’s youth and explains her love and life story even further. I just wonder, though, how different the sequel’s perspective is from the original but I really dug the storytelling tone they chose for this one. +2
I’ve also read on social media how some audiences found the shots and choreography disjointed, but personally, it didn’t bother me. I felt it was really going for a more old school, traditional musical theater style. Don’t expect contemporary feels in this film like that of The Greatest Showman. Think 70s/80s realness and how musical numbers were mounted at that time, 'cause, hey, you got almost geriatric actors portraying here so c'mon, what do you expect? Even the humor and mood is definitely dated, so just embrace the nostalgia. +1
Let’s go back to the storytelling devices used in the film. It was trippy how, as an audience, you try to predict what will happen next, already knowing the back story, sort of. The past selves of our beloved characters are introduced one by one, slowly completing the puzzle of the narrative. This experience is part of the whole adventure that this sequel will take you to. +3
Amanda is still adorable as ever, but her high-pitched singing tone with that Snow White-esque vibrato is still a bit distracting—an issue I’ve had with her ever since she was cast as Cosette in Les Miserables. But her singing aside, she carries the film as the narrator of sorts and provides the essential emotional anchor. +2
Donna’s groupmates in Donna and the Dynamos, Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) bring on the retro comical moments and their younger counterparts in the film, do equally the same which is a rare feat. Even the casting was spot on! Though it’s a bit absurd that their hairstyle didn’t change after three decades, I totally get why they chose this as a device. +4
Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and Colin Firth are back as the three dads with less screen time in the sequel but with still the same gravitas on screen. Their younger counterparts provide palpable performances, but their screen presence doesn’t even come close to these great actors. Of the older male cast, the latest addition, Fernando (Andy Garcia), is most notable as the latin hotel manager. I’m sure you already know by now why he was named as such, if you’re a big fan of ABBA. +3
The younger Donna (Lily James) is the revelation in this film. First of all, how can one play the younger counterpart of Meryl Streep? Though physically, she is miscast, she embodies the spirit of Streep’s portrayal of Donna, making you believe in her youthful essence—now this is proof that you can act your way into making anything believable. +3
Just when you thought the film is done, in comes, Cher! With her limited screen time, she performs two astounding musical numbers and her presence is just smoldering. A true diva through and through. +2
So, I gather that Donna has passed in the original film, and throughout, you are left wanting to see Meryl Streep’s presence again and the film gives you just that when it matters the most. Such a fitting finale as a the cherry on top to cap the sequel off. +2
For a total of 25 points just like silver, I feel that this sequel is just second best to the original, yet is nevertheless as precious. There’s still so much to discuss about the film like the glorious transitions as well as the terrific production and costume design that’s delicious enough to devour, capturing the vibe of that fictitious island in Greece. Your level of enjoyment of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again will all depend on your sensibilities and generation, but I assure you that it is truly gonna be a fun time at the cinema.
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Photographs courtesy of Universal Pictures