Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James and Christine Baranski
Directed by: Ol Parker
Five years on from the events of the first movie, Sophie has revamped the hotel for its launching party all the while learning more about her mother’s past during the process.
I watched the first Mamma Mia movie a couple of years ago and rather enjoyed it despite expecting to hate it. Although it had a lot of flaws, mainly Pierce Brosnan’s horrendous rendition of ABBA, but it was fun movie that was full of star power. When the sequel was announced my wife got pretty excited as it included one of her favourite people, Cher, and while I wasn’t overly bothered either way with her inclusion, my wife couldn’t wait for the release. It’s been released here in the UK for about a week now and today was our first chance to watch it together although she did watch it yesterday too with her nan and great grandfather…without me.
I will start off by saying how the trailer relied on the power of editing which made this movie seem like one thing but what I got was completely different. While I knew this movie was going to be full of flashbacks into Donna’s (Meryl Streep) past I wasn’t aware that this movie acted as an homage to Streep’s character. Pierce Brosnan returns to reprise the role of Sam, this time in a smaller and less important capacity as the movie focuses on the past more than it does the present. He is unfortunately the worst character once again, his acting wasn’t poor it was more his singing and lack of rhythm as he attempts to dance. Saying that however, I think the makers of this movie have learnt from the first movie and realised singing and dancing isn’t Pierce Brosnan’s strongest area so limited his time doing both activities which was a pleasing thing for the entire audience.
Before I begin talking about what made this movie better than the first one, by quite some distance too in my opinion, there are a few more parts of the movie that frustrated me slightly. First being the movie’s timeline didn’t seem to make much sense. There were a lot of discrepancies from information we found out in the first movie and the movie takes place 5 years after the first Mamma Mia but filmed 10 years afterwards and some of the returning actors haven’t aged as kindly as others. Why the writers/producers didn’t just use the same timeframe as real life I will never understand. Finally, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters played the other two members of the band Donna and the Dynamos and while Christine Baranski was superb I didn’t understand Julie Walters’ character. Both ladies play somewhat man hungry lusty old women and while Baranski totally suits that role and plays it impeccably well, Walters just doesn’t come across as believable in that role at all and seems like she’s trying too hard at it and it comes across awkward more than anything although she does provide a fair amount of comedy.
Now on to the good stuff and there was plenty of it. The cast as an ensemble were simply brilliant especially all six of the actors who played the younger versions of Donna, Tanya, Rosie, Harry, Sam and Bill. Lily James was the standout performer as she takes on the role of a young Donna and I feel she did a fantastic job at capturing the kinks and traits of that portrayed by Meryl Streep in the first movie. She had a great voice and could dance well too and she was truly beautiful to watch as she played her character with such emotion and passion. The same could be said about Jessica Keenan Wynn who played a young Tanya (Christine Baranski) as rather than mimicking the character she captured some of the characteristics of Tanya which she used to make that character her own. There was a lot of comedy which had me laughing throughout as well and the musical renditions of each song were truly brilliant to watch as listen to. Inevitably you had some of the big hits amongst this movie’s soundtrack but there was also room for a few lesser known songs and as I was watching this movie, my foot was tapping nearly all the way throughout, I was taken aback by just the sheer quantity of ABBA hits that there have been.
I am a bit of a sucker for mass choreographed dance routines and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again provided some great routines which were a joy to watch. The story of Donna was told so wonderfully that the love and the anguish that she went through was really well portrayed as this is definitely the romatic story of the year. While a lot of the characters were the same characters from the first movie there was room for a few new additions which were all great. I really loved Andy Garcia’s part in this film as well as Omid Djalili too. Omid Djalili played a Greek passport officer and while his role was small and quite unimportant to the overall story it was probably the funniest role within the film which provided me with plenty of laughs. The setting was also great and provided many visually pleasing scenes as you look out to what seems like a never ending ocean from the small Greek island. Finally, Cher. As with many of the new characters her role was small but for the brief time she was on screen she was excellent as she belted out her rendition of Fernando in true Cher style. The one thing that I forget about when it comes to Cher is her actual age. As she has had many surgeries to keep her appearance younger than the reality, I always forget she’s a lady in her seventies and her movement in the final few scenes really showed her true age. This didn’t affect my enjoyment of her performance but rather made me appreciate it that little bit more as she’s still a tremendous entertainer even at the age of 72.
Overall, Mamma Mia 2 was a fantastically enjoyable movie which is some distance better than its predecessor. Some great performances from the new stars in the movie which does have its faults but overall is a great watch which is guaranteed to entertain.