<script async src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script> <!-- Showbiz Portal Bottom 1 300x250, created 10/15/10 --> <ins class="adsbygoogle" style="display:inline-block;width:300px;height:250px" data-ad-client="ca-pub-1272644781333770" data-ad-slot="2530175011"></ins> <script> (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); </script>
Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jul 23, 2018

Mamma Mia Here We Go Again Movie Review: Nothing Else Much To Offer After The More Familiar Abba Songs Have Been Used In The First Movie

‘MAMMA MIA!”. the stage musical based on the hit songs of the famous Swedish pop group, ABBA, was a blockbuster worldwide when made into a movie and shown in 2008. We now have “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” that’s both a prequel and a sequel to the first jukebox musical. In its final sequences, it becomes a reunion concert for both the old and new cast members, plus there’s an encore for an additional number during the closing credits.

For this movie, which is a straight to screen production, they have to use the other songs in the ABBA catalogue that were not used in the first one, but the problem is they’re not as popular as the previous songs, starting with the opening number “When I Kissed the Teacher” that serves as a valedictory speech. The songs here seem to come from Side B of ABBA’s past albums, like “Angel Eyes” and “Andante Andante”, so the effect is not really as magical. It’s only when we hear again the strains of the the most popular ABBA song, “Dancing Queen”, that the movie really springs to life.

The story starts with Donna (played by Meryl Streep before, now by Lily James in her younger version) graduating from college. To get away from her mom, said to be a famous Las Vegas singer, she decides to go to a remote island in Greece called Kalokairi, where she eventually figures in a love quadrangle with three guys (Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan and Hugh Skinner), one of whom eventually gets her pregnant.

None of the youngers guys look like any of the older actors they’re playing, Colin Firth as the
repressed British businessman, Harry; Stellan Skarsgard as the gregarious Swede, Bill; and Pierce Brosnan as the handsome American architect, Sam. Parallel to this, we see Amanda Seyfried reprising her role as Sophie, Meryl’s daughter, now struggling to be successful in love and in business. We learn that Donna has passed (the reason is not at all given) and, a year after her mamma’s death, Sophie has renovated her mother’s hotel in the island. the Bella Donna.

Helping her is a quiet, reserved manager, Mr. Cienfuego (Andy Garcia). Her three dads all come to the island in time for the opening of Sophie’s hotel, along with her mom’s supportive friends, Tanya and Rosie, played by the very competent Chistine Baranski and Julie Walters whose younger versions, we are happy to report, looks like reasonably believable facsimiles of their younger selves, played by Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies.

Unfortunately, Sophie’s husband, Sky (Dominic Cooper), is in New York, studying how to be a hotel manager and getting an offer there that he’s considering to accept so Sophie is so sad. Add to this the sorry fact that a storm suddenly appears and destroys all the preparations she has made for the grand opening of her hotel. They prepared so much and there also seem to be no guests coming in. But you don’t have to worry since this is a feel good musical, so all the kinks in the story are all eventually ironed out and everybody who’s just anybody (including Alessio, you’ll find out who he is when you watch the movie) appears in the finale sequences.

Through it all, you’re somehow wondering as to when will Cher appear since she was prominently promoted in the film’s trailers. It turns out she appears just towards the end, in the hotel’s opening night, as a gatecrasher who comes in on board a helicopter for a grand entrance. She plays Sophie’s long lost grandmother, which means that she is, in fact, Meryl’s mother. In real life, Cher is 72 as she was born in 1946, while Meryl was born in 1949.

That means they’re ages are not really that so far away from each other. The difference is that Meryl’s countenance shows that she has aged gracefully, while Cher’s face is totally creaseless, obviously a “salamat po, doktor, produkto ng siyensiya”. When she sings, her facial muscles do not move at all, only her lips as she mouths the lyrics of her songs. She turns out to be missing lover of Andy Garcia from Mexico and together, they do a duet of the hit ABBA song, “Fernando”. Andy’s name is kept a secret until he starts to sing this song with Cher, with resplendent fireworks lighting up the night sky.

After her, Meryl finally reappears in the christening of Sophie’s baby. She’s now a ghost who gets to a duet of “My Love, My Life” with Amanda Seyfried and later joins the cast in the closing credits for the encore finale number with “Super Trouper”. Her appearance is really more of a glorified “paconsuelo de bobo” cameo.

In fairness to Director Ol Parker, his direction of the musical sequences in the sequel is a marked improvement and more full of energy than the first one which was directed by Phyllida Lloyd. There’s that beautifully choreographed number inside a French restaurant to the tune of the song “Waterloo” and the rendition here of “Dancing Queen” is even more rousing than the first one, involving hundreds of extras on some boats and also on land to sing and dance on the pier.

Lily James does not in any way remotely resemble Meryl Streep but in fairness to her, she performs with so much enthusiasm and charisma that she’s clearly having a ball as the young Donna. We’ve seen her before on TV in “Downtown Abbey” and in several past films, like “Cinderella”, “Baby Driver” and “Darkest Hour”, but we never knew she could sing this well.

Let’s just hope that this musical sequel will do good at the box office like the original. The last time they did a Part 2 for a musical was in “Grease 2”, which was an enormous flop after the very successful “Grease” with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. The only musical we know that had successful sequels is “High School Musical”, but that was on TV.