Movie Review Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018): Several years have passed since the kitschy Mamma Mia! (2018), where Meryl Streep teams up with all-star casts of all generations (including Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard plus younger generation casts, such as Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper) creating a campy—and tacky—musical drama about family and dream. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) brings audiences back to the Greek island, Kalokairi, where the first film commenced, for an (sadly) incomplete reunion.
Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the sequel) pens and treats Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again as if it is the Godfather II with Streep as Brando and Seyfried as Pacino. To complete the Godfather manifestation, they even have Lily James as De Niro of Mamma Mia!. Even further, this second movie also serves as both prequel and sequel with stories that juxtapose into each other and into the original story. Wherefore, it makes a better movie in terms of presentation—‘correcting’ the flimsiness of the original.
Still devising ABBA’s songs (although some hits might not be as renowned as the songs used in the first movie), this Mamma Mia! ventures around young Donna’s (James) fateful retro-summer which resulted in the first movie’s main conflict. This story goes hand-in-hand with Sophie’s (Seyfried) ambition to re-open Hotel Bella Dona, her mother’s only legacy. While Young Donna’s story delves too deep into some information that audiences (especially first Mamma Mia audiences) know better and, at the same time, Sophie’s story only gets better upon the third act, Here We Go Again is definitely an uplifting fan-service which works, not massively, but effectively.
Parker sincerely presents Here We Go Again as a movie, not some modern-rendition of ABBA’s music videos. There’s a real plot thread here and there; and most importantly, there’s real heart in it. Sadly, for a movie about Meryl Streep’s character’s legacy, this sequel-prequel diminishes Streep’s roles into as minuscule as some brief cameo. However, it is surprising that the only scene where Streep appears is the strongest scene in the whole film. James, whose eloquent energy brings new color to the prequel side of this movie, could elevate the story at some points, but in the end, it looks as if she owes Streep everything to bring Donna into a living character.
Final verdict, with catchy tunes, heartfelt fan-service treatment and juxtaposed narrative, the uplifting ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ not only completes (even, exceeds) the original Mamma Mia, but it also works delicately as a standalone story. It might not be a grand movie, but it is indeed a satisfying one.