Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again film review: enjoyable encore will delight fans of first film
Slickly directed by Ol Parker, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again replaces Meryl Streep with the brilliant Lily James, features a glorious turn from Cher, and will leave you singing all the way home
The Abba-infused Greek-island musical returns for a second helping, a prequel-sequel that won’t win any converts but will please fans of the first film. Co-written by Richard Curtis, the story takes a big risk as it opens: Donna, the dungaree-wearing hotel owner played by Meryl Streep, has died a year earlier. A Mamma Mia! movie without Streep? This had better be good.
Smartly, there is a brilliant replacement: Lily James. The British star of Cinderella plays young Donna, just after she graduates from Oxford and heads off to find paradise on a Greek island. With the film cutting between past and present, we learn just how she hooked up with Harry, Sam and Bill, the three possible “fathers” to Donna’s daughter Sophie, a paternity puzzle that was left unsolved in the original movie.
James is a hugely confident performer, and her sunny renditions of such Abba classics as Waterloo, The Name of the Game and Knowing Me, Knowing You are a cut above. Back in the present, the grown-up Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) has re-furnished the hotel in her mother’s honour, although – metaphor alert – a big storm comes along to almost ruin everything before the launch party.
Of course, there are reunions with familiar faces: the older Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Bill (Stellan Skarsgard) and Harry (Colin Firth), and Donna’s old friends Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski). And there’s a glorious turn by Cher as Donna’s songstress mother, who makes a grand entrance all the way from Las Vegas; her version of Fernando is another highlight.
Slickly directed by Ol Parker, the film plays up the theme of mirrors and reflections – from Sophie and her partner Sky (Dominic Cooper) singing One of Us in separate rooms to a beautifully shot, teary-eyed church-set finale that explains why Streep is on the poster. If that’s not enough, a camp-as-you-like Super Trouper send-off will leave you singing all the way home.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again opens on August 16
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