WARNING: SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW
Synopsis: Taking place before and after the events of Mamma Mia!, see Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) re-open her mother’s hotel, and Young Donna (Lily James) navigate the young years of her life all on the isle of Kalokairi.
Review: While I have admittedly been excited for this sequel to come out, I was also skeptical to see how it actually played out. While the first film was based off the highly successful Broadway musical, the follow up is solely an original. The film is a prequel-sequel that flashes back between Young Donna’s first adventures on the island with the sequel following Sophie’s re-opening of the Bella Donna hotel.
While the film relies a little bit too much on the prequel side for my taste, James continues shining on screen, much like she did in Cinderella and Downton Abbey. Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies were cast perfectly as Young Tanya and Rosie, respectively. Their voice, look, and singing styles are spot on to Christine Baranski and Julie Walters. The same, sadly, can’t be said for Young Sam, Harry, and Bill, played by Jeremy Irvine, Hugh Skinner, and Josh Dylan. While they were all charming and possessed great singing chops, they did not seem to embody their elder portrayals as well as the ladies.
The sequel side of the film doesn’t really hit until the third act. While we see Sophie, Tanya and Rosie sporadically setting up scenes for the prequel, it isn’t until the actual day of the re-opening that we see a lot of the original cast. It really feels like the producers underused the talents of Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard; although Brosnan not singing much actually helped the film.
There was also a small subplot of Sky (Dominic Cooper) and Sophie having an argument about where they wanted to settle down. Sky received a job offer from a hotel company in New York, while Sophie obviously wanted to fulfill her mother’s legacy with the Bella Donna. It was a tad lackluster because we all knew how it was going to end.
There is one thing I will warn you about…so MAJOR SPOILER ALERT, STOP READING HERE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE DISAPPOINTED…
Meryl Streep is barely in the film. While it was assumed from the trailers that Donna was dead in the movie, she was still highlighted a lot in the promotional materials. I never thought she would be in the film a lot, but it was disappointing that she was in so little of the film. Reports have suggested that Streep doesn’t do sequels, so the fact that she turned up at all is rewarding, I guess.
Cher was also only in the film briefly, basically playing herself. It should be noted that Cher is actually only 4 years older than Streep, and is playing her mom. It does look like she is having fun, however, singing Fernando with Andy Garcia.
While Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again might not be the groundbreaking hit that the first film was, it was definitely a fun two hours. Hearing a good amount of the songs sung by a different character – or in some cases a different gender – kept things fresh and interesting as well.
Also, be sure to stay after the credits as there is a fun little post-credit scene.
Final Grade: 8.0/10
Highlights: The whole “Waterloo” sequence, The fun “Super Trouper” closing song, anything with Christine Baranski and Julie Walters
Lowlights: Not enough Meryl, not enough of a sequel