Mamma Mia! Here we go Again
Reviewed – 17 July 2018
“stylish camerawork, poignant moments, a witty script and cleverly integrated references“
Here we go again? Really? More rollicking enjoyment? More tireless exuberance? Another flood of Abba hits? Can we honestly take it all again? Well, it seems that Mamma Mia has grown up since the rip-roaring hen and beach party ten years ago, which audiences loved and critics loved to hate. Instead of letting down its hair in wild abandon, it painstakingly sets out to create fun. And this is what makes the sequel work; it has learnt from any shortcomings and understands what it is doing.
The story is simple. As Sophie prepares to open the hotel of her mother’s dreams, she reflects on how Donna (her mother) came to the remote Greek island of Kalokairi. Cue an array of young talent as the action ebbs and flows from past to present, revealing dreams, deceptions, heartache and happiness. Less of a vehicle for an Abba extravaganza, the music fits comfortably into the narrative, with some lesser-known numbers added to a handful of repeated favourites. There is some great singing and some… not so accomplished, but the songs are intelligently distributed among the fresher, cleaner voices. Lily James sings her heart out and is an undeniable triumph as young Donna, but Amanda Seyfried too has blossomed over the years and the three youthful dads add tuneful spirit to their established older models. The dancing is more sophisticated this time, with slickly choreographed sequences as well as the inescapable mass routines and everyone is included more or less within their limits. So, on the whole, we can sit back and relax.
As writer and director, Ol Parker gives the film structure, shape and wider appeal. Only one year after the go-ahead green light, ‘Here We Go Again’ will probably be just as loved by the audiences and possibly less hated by critics thanks to its savvier approach. Parker offers not just singing and dancing but a broader span of emotions and backstories which define the characters, stylish camerawork, poignant moments, a witty script and cleverly integrated references, for those who pick them up. His constant attention to detail keeps the film bubbling with anticipation and sparkling with life.
Any weaknesses? A handful of lines, notably from the bigger names, fall flat on delivery: Pierce Brosnan’s wooden dance style does stand out: the hype around Cher’s role as ‘Grandma’ is puzzling – of course she is a hugely charismatic star but in this film many people are as likely to remember Omid Djalili in his gem of a cameo role as the passport official. But, Mamma Mia purists, despite the adult emotions, obscure songs and newbie gate-crashers, there are still some cheesy lines, tastefully gaudy costumes and picture postcard photography. And although some may be disappointed that it is not the singalong romp of the original, it is certainly the feelgood entertainment we were all hoping for (or dreading). Enjoy it how you like, forgive what others may get a kick out of!
Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington
Photography © Universal Pictures
Mamma Mia! Here we go Again