Movie review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

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Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

One of the most highly anticipated and captivating sequels of the summer, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” hit theatres with an explosion of music and colors. With many puzzling and amusing plot twists, this joy ride will satisfy fans of the first “Mamma Mia!” and provide fresh entertainment for those who have not seen the original.

“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” not only stars all the old favorites such as Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth, and a cameo of Meryl Streep, but also introduces new faces such as Lily James, Josh Dylan, and for no obvious reason, Cher. The combination of already-loved characters and new, compelling ones freshens the film and makes it a notably different and worthy successor of the first “Mamma Mia!”

The plot unfolds in a nonlinear timeline as it switches between past and present, and between Sophie, played by Amanda Seyfried, and a 1979-version of Donna, played by Lily James. The first movie placed main character Donna as Meryl Streep, but she has unexpectedly passed away in the interim between the first and second “Mamma Mia!”

In the present day plot,  Sophie prepares for the now-deceased Donna’s hotel grand reopening. Simultaneously, viewers watch young Donna as she gallivants across Europe in the late 70’s, meeting attractive men and fulfilling every dream role of bohemian beauty and adventure, until she finds her place on a Greek island. While Amanda Seyfried takes a backseat on the fun, the sequel is mostly brought to life by Lily James’ dazzling charm and talent.

The enthusiasm and entertainment are rampant and contagious, yet there remain dangers throughout the film. The producers hoped to squeeze in as many ABBA songs and famous people possible; as far as they were concerned, the plot could go to pot, but who cares as long as they filled the expected quota with ABBA and beautiful people? Besides Lily James’ performance, much of “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” relies on the well-loved music selection from ABBA and the charms of the supporting actors, rather than on the quality of the plotline. The 70s fashion, choreography, and music keep the audience half-shielding their eyes from the exuberant energy and half-unable to tear them away from the screen.

As the movie progresses, absurd, yet entrancing events induce confusion to the point of mental somersaults that mirror the dancers on screen. For example, Cher’s unexpected and purposeless appearance as she steps dramatically out of a helicopter leaves viewers wondering: did Cher buy her way into the film because she needs to remind the next generation that she is still alive, or did the producers think her newest plastic surgery could add to the film’s nostalgic glamour of the 70s?

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