Image copyright of Universal Pictures
The Dancing Queen of all films is back. And she's ready to party.
Wow. Firstly, what an apt film title for an absolute revival of one of the top feel good films of all time. Like the first film which showcased in 2008, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again features musical hits from the same legendary 80’s band in addition to its incomparable cast of talented, comedic & loveable actors. For those who watched the first film, ‘here we go again’ immediately carries its well known tune from the famous hit ‘Mamma Mia’. Yet, for those who have never been a fan of the film, the title is quite literally said with a sigh and bitterly sarcastic tone ‘here we go again’...
For me, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is everything Mamma Mia and ABBA enthusiasts have been waiting for. And it’s no surprise that it’s taken 10 years to compose such a brilliant reunion of the songs and characters we fell in love with the first time.
This time round, the production team chose to shoot the film in Croatia and Surrey, England rather than the numerous Greek islands that hosted the 2008 scenes. Nevertheless, there could be nothing less traditional about the Greek aspects portrayed in the second film as Greek actors, music and food all play their part in making this a realistic portrayal of the country’s cultural gems.
The film opens with Amanda Seyfried, playing the daughter of Donna Sheridan (who both starred in the first film), finalising arrangements for the grand opening of ‘Hotel Bella Donna’, the hotel Sophie has made as a tribute to her late mother, Donna. In the time between the first film, not only has Donna passed away, but Sophie now lives with her father (one of three), Sam (Pierce Brosnan), and her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) who at the start of the film is in New York pursuing a business dream that he is all too keen to persuade Sophie to follow.
Within the first five minutes of the film, viewers are taken on a jive through time, starting in 1979 at Donna Sheridan’s graduation where she (young Donna played by Lily James), kick starts her performance career alongside her Dynamo girls (Tanya and Rosie) with a memorable speech featuring feather bowers and crowd surfing to the hit ‘When I Kissed the Teacher’. From here, we join Young Donna on her quest to ‘find herself’ as she travels through Europe on her way to Greece.
First Stop. PARIS. Within days of her trip, Donna finds herself on a spontaneous date with Harry, an British sweetheart who is immediately wooed by Donna’s charm and looks. The most humorous moment for the two being Harry’s edition of ‘Waterloo’ when their spread of wine and oysters becomes Harry’s stage.
Next stop, GREECE. Late as always, Donna manages to miss her ferry and has to persuade a young, blue eyed sailor, Bill (Josh Dylan), to take her to the island of Kalokairi. As Harry did, Bill tries his best to capture Donna’s heart with ‘Why Did it Have to Be Me?’. But not before he is interrupted by the call of a stranded fisherman in need of help.
Upon her arrival to the Greek island, Donna explores and immediately falls head over heels for the island; finding refuge in a warn down farm house when a violent storm hits the island and she has to calm a restless horse with the help of (once again) handsome young lad Sam (played by Jeremy Irvine). Meanwhile, in present day, Sophie struggles to deal with the wreckage that the storm has caused to the display and guest capacity prepared for the grand opening.
Another leap into the past reveals the reason for young Donna’s third failed romance when she discovers Sam’s concealed engagement to another woman and demands that he leaves the island. Nonetheless, her visiting Dynamos put their bubbly spirit-lifting capabilities to play and encourage Donna to sing her heartbreak and rage away with the hit ‘Mamma Mia!’.
Back in modern day Greece, we see the slow progressions towards the ultimate reunion of the characters from the first film. Bill, Harry and Sky ditch their business plans to be there for their girl Sophie, meanwhile collating a mass of Greek locals from the mainland to attend the opening party.
In an intrinsic attempt to establish the parallels between young Donna and modern day Sophie, the film’s director, Ol Parker, uses poignant alternations between the women’s discoveries of their pregnancies. In doing so, Parker accentuates the bond shared by the girls. However, whilst Sophie has Sky and her three fathers to turn to at this monumental time in her life, young Donna, as strong and independent as ever, has only her landlord to confide in.
Things at Hotel Bella Donna are perfect and Sophie can think of nothing else which could turn her dream and tribute to her mother into a better reality. And that’s where Cher steps in. An unusual, but surprisingly befitting addition to the occasion, Cher fulfils her grandmotherly duties a little too late when she arrives uninvited to the island by helicopter. However, whilst her self-centred allure is unwelcome, her underlying concern for family triggers her reassurance to Sophie that Donna is spiritually present at the christening of her child. A comment that is followed by the heartwarming collaboration of Lily James, Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried’s vocal treasures in ‘My Love, My Life’.
The final and stand out moment of the film is the number ‘Super Trouper’ which sees all cast members, old, present and deceased, in the ultimate celebration of all things MAMMA MIA.
Thus far, the film has fetched 167 million dollars owing to its success in not only reuniting the original cast ten years on from the first film, but also reuniting fans of the first film to relive and ultimately fall back in love with the glitz and joy that is Mamma Mia. Whilst to some, this film disappoints in its lack of Meryl Streep and non-stop joy compared to the first, it is the fiery appearances of both new faces; Celia Imrie, Lily James and Cher, and old faces; Colin Firth and Julie Waters, which are a perfect reminder that a bit of ABBA is enough to make anyone get up and embrace their inner Dancing Queen.