Everybody loves ABBA, it's a known fact and I'm certain our passion for the seventies Swedish pop band lies deep within our DNA. If you've never screamed "Dancing Queen" into a comb during a steaming hot shower, or gleefully hit the baritone of Super Trooper then you clearly aren't alone. Mamma Mia! the glittery jukebox musical premiered on Broadway in 1999 but truly rocketed globally in 2008 with Pyllida Lloyd's movie adaption. The film grossed over six-hundred million dollars worldwide and was, at the time, the highest grossing movie ever made my a woman. What's more Mamma Mia!'s cheerful, feel-good vibes injected pure cheap and cheerful fun into the musical genre - and fans ate it up lovingly - in spite of It being critically frowned upon. Fast-forward ten years and a Meryl Streep less - Mamma Mia! returns but this time around with rave reviews, telling two stories as opposed to one.
If you've been keeping up to day with HMBW's latest summer blockbuster reviews you will have seen that originally I found Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again dry, lacklustre, with about as much wear as a pair of flimsy flares. I was one of very few people to quite frankly flamed Here We Go Again for its inability to replicate the original's energy, cheesy style or catchy tunes. Nevertheless the internet has gone nuts over Here We Go Again so I thought it was due a revisit.
Let's be honest, whilst Mamma Mia! (2008) was a terrible film as fans our admiration and enjoyment far, far exceeded our criticism. Thinly plotted, dreadfully sung and with preposterous heads popping up in spontaneous dance numbers, Mamma Mia! was a cheesy masterpiece that provides such a strong feel-good factor it's adored by almost everyone. Repeating the success of its predecessor Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again shines through rather dark times, reminding us all that's good with the world.
Cinema is often a reflection of reality, it takes great talent as well as an artistic vision to create a world people genuinely invest in. Our relationships with films can vary drastically and once in a blue moon you may even discover a film you once hated you've now grown to adore. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is one of those films for me.
Now I'm a man of my word - ninety percent of the time a bad film remains a bad film - but my second viewing of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was bizarre. As Donna and The Dynamos burst onto screen with "When I Kissed The Teacher" you're overcome with a sense of joy, positivity and excitement. Welcoming you with feather bowers and gold stilettos - Here We Go Again is remarkably well intentioned and inclusive - inviting everyone to have the time of their life. Realising this, I have fallen in love with it as a film that prioritises the audience's enjoyment.
Mamma Mia! still holds up and we wouldn't have this dazzling sequel without it, but Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again trumps the original on almost every level. Director Ol Parker delivers this previously flimsy plot with not one, but two poignant stories that cleverly intertwine together. Here We Go Again reflects upon free spirited, flower child Donna and her life during the late 1970's, whilst her daughter Sophie continues her mother's legacy in modern day. Extraordinarily Parker gives a whole new meaning to Mamma Mia! telling the story of a lively, free-wheeling woman, how she discovered herself and the impact she left on her daughter as well as those around her.
Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgård perform as devotedly as once before but this time around their younger counterparts act as welcome additions to the cast. Josh Dylan makes a very convincing younger Skarsgard as smooth talking, sailing expert Bill - Hugh Skinner ably captures Firth's shy, polite demeanour as well as Jeremy Irvine who even finds the right Irish inflections as a younger Brosnan.
Furthermore Alexa Davis and Jessica Keenan Wynn are both uncanny clones of Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, capturing the two's comical squabbling dynamic, but Lily James is absolutely the best of the bunch. Although Meryl Streep's absence is noticeable - Lily James is perfect as the bubbly, charming, happy-go-lucky Donna - delivering Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again with a charming story it may never of had with Meryl Streep as the sole focus. Chiefly all the new members of the cast don't fall into the trap of impersonating the original stars - reinforcing the youthful fun of the characters that was only briefly hinted at in the first Mamma Mia!
I originally criticised Here We Go Again for its "dull, un-energetic delivery" - but that is far from the truth and I genuinely don't know what led me to believe otherwise. From "One of Us" to "Angel Eyes", "Waterloo" to "Super Trouper" - despite the biggest ABBA hits being invested into the first film, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again gives us better quality singing to go with better individual performances and as a result the tunes are even more toe tapping in this joyous sequel.
Sometimes we set our expectations too high and consequently the film can disappoint us. I think I clashed with Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again due to the lack of Meryl Streep as Donna - but like Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther - it has taken time for me to appreciate what the director was going for. Some films we hate then love, some films we love then grow to hate - either way it's all part of our complex and evolving relationship with films.
In the end Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is designed primarily to deliver a fantastic time. It sidesteps much of the camp and cheesy style of the original, which ultimately leads to a far slicker and sentimental film. Just as fun though ten times more heartbreaking - Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again tells a poignant story, offering a whole new insight into a previously hollow world.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: