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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Blu-ray)
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Blu-ray)
Universal // PG-13 // October 23, 2018 // Region Free
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted October 30, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

Earlier this summer I reviewed Mamma Mia!, the musical romantic comedy based on the 1999 stage production and the songs of Swedish pop group ABBA. It is not necessarily the type of movie I seek out, but it offers sunny entertainment and a great cast, including Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried and Colin Firth. I was surprised to hear Universal was making a sequel after a decade, and more surprised to learn the majority of the cast was returning. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again offers the same low-impact, jukebox entertainment as its predecessor, but fails to make much of an impression thanks to a bland story and uninvolving flashbacks. Even so, the filmmakers dive deeper into the ABBA catalogue and the cast seems to be having fun. Fans of the first will likely want to rent this follow-up.

Ten years after the events of Mamma Mia!, Sophie Sheridan (Seyfried) is preparing to reopen her mother's hotel on the fictional Greek island of Kalokairi. Spoiler Alert! Sophie's mother, Donna (Streep), died the year before, and Sophie hopes her three dads, Sam Carmichael (Brosnan), Harry Bright (Firth) and Bill Anderson (Stellan Skarsgard), can come celebrate the occasion. She also invites Donna's lifelong friends Christine Baranski (Tanya Chesham-Leigh) and Rosie Mulligan (Julie Walters), who were part of the band Donna and the Dynamos. Sophie is disappointed that husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) will be in New York for work instead of on Kalokairi, and she confides in hotel manager Fernando Cienfuegos (Andy Garcia) that she is thinking of packing things up and starting a new career. The movie spends some time in the present as Sophie prepares for the party, but much of the running time is spent on extended flashbacks that follow a young Donna (Lily James) as she meets her lovers for the first time.

We see Donna graduate from Oxford in 1979 before she begins travelling across Europe. In Paris she beds Harry (Hugh Skinner), a visitor at the same hotel in which she is staying, then swiftly meets skipper Bill (Josh Dylan). When those two don't quite pan out, Donna stumbles upon Sam (Jeremy Irvine) in a horse barn during a thunderstorm. Much dancing and singing follows, and, if you are opposed to unsolicited musical numbers during graduation ceremonies or dancing with crusty baguettes in front of a faux Paris backdrop, you should probably find another movie. I know we did not see these same scenes in Mamma Mia!, but they feel awfully familiar. None of this exposition is especially revelatory, as we learned the personalities of Sophie's dads in the first film. Director Ol Parker's staging and the ABBA soundtrack are so cheery that it is hard to come down too hard on something not shooting to be high drama.

The light present-day story and the superficial flashbacks all serve as vessels to allow the talented cast to participate in numerous choreographed dance numbers. None is as over-the-top as the ridiculous "flipper ballet" sequence on the pier in the last film, but the filmmakers were clearly going for the stage feel here with the obviously staged backgrounds and simple sets. As you might expect after seeing the advertisements and posters for the film, both Streep and Cher do make an appearance. Streep as an apparition of sorts and Cher as Sophie's grandmother, Ruby, who finally decides it is time to stop touring. This character is a gimmick, of course, but it falls in line with the rest of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again just fine. No one is watching this movie expecting it to be the year's best, so I'm not going to rag it too hard. You get exactly what you expect, and fans of the first will likely enjoy this sequel.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

The 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image handles the highlights and bright colors of Kalokairi with ease. This digitally shot production offers excellent fine-object detail, vibrant colors and decent black levels. Wide shots are crisp and clear and stretch for miles; close-ups reveal intimate facial features and textures on costumes and sets. The outdoor scenes are incredibly bright, with colors that almost appear heightened, but this look is intentional. I noticed some purple tint in the nighttime scenes, but this is likely also intentional. Color saturation is good and skin tones are warm but natural. I noticed only minor aliasing and no edge halos.

SOUND:

The disc offers a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, which I sampled as a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD mix. This nicely immersive mix offers pleasant atmospheric effects and plenty of sound pans. The frequent musical numbers are nicely balanced and weighty, with full surround and subwoofer support. Dialogue is crisp and clear, and both fidelity and range are impressive throughout the film. Spanish and French 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus tracks are included, as are English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This two-disc set includes the Blu-ray, a DVD and a digital copy. The discs are packed in a standard case that is wrapped in a slipcover with obtrusive lettering announcing this as a "Sing-Along Edition." That means you can watch the film with lyrics on the screen for most of the musical performances. I chose the standard viewing option because I am no fun. Extras include Deleted/Extended Songs and Scenes (10:36 total/HD); High Jinks (1:09/HD) aka a gag reel; and several short featurettes: The Story (5:33/HD), Mamma Mia! Reunited (3:33/HD), Playing Donna (2:28/HD), Sophie's Story (3:30/HD), Meeting Cher (3:43/HD), Costumes and Dynamos (4:59/HD), Choreographing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (7:25/HD), Cast Meets Cast (6:25 total/HD), Curtain Call (3:59/HD), Dancing Queen: Anatomy of a Scene (3:26/HD), Cast Chats (5:01 total/HD), Performing for Legends (2:46/HD), Class of ‘79 (3:48/HD), and a Today Interview with Cher and Judy Craymer (4:35/HD). You also get two commentaries: one with director/screenplay writer Ol Parker and the other with producer Judy Craymer.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This unexpected sequel to 2008 musical comedy Mamma Mia! offers similarly cherry, jukebox-comedy laughs and romance, but lacks a compelling storyline. That said, viewers get exactly what they expect with Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. The A-list cast has fun with the superficial material, and this sequel dives further into the ABBA catalogue for its soundtrack. Rent It.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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