Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again takes the split prequel-sequel approach focusing on the lives of both Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) in the present day and also a young Donna in the past played here by the talented Lily James. This sequel delivers on all the aspects of Mamma Mia! that the fans loved. It’s very campy, has a good amount of humour, plenty of charm, and great musical set-pieces once again put to the tune of ABBA’s greatest hits. The returning cast is just as fantastic as before jumping right back into their characters after 10 years, but newcomer Lily James is a scene-stealer with the amount of energy she brings to her role. It’s not quite as fast paced as its predecessor but as it’s telling a lot more story in between the musical moments things are drawn out a little more.
Everyone comes to Mamma Mia! for the classic ABBA music and this sequel does not disappoint delivering some of the Swedish supergroup’s biggest songs over some great dance sequences. The musical scenes are very well choreographed and larger in scale than those in Mamma Mia!, they even make use of clever transitions between the two stories being told to tie them together. The more upbeat and ‘poppy’ sequences are fun and all thoroughly enjoyable and then some of the more slower songs work too in bringing some heart and emotion to the story. I will say that the story isn’t as driven by the music as in Mamma Mia! as all of the prequel events have been established in said film but it’s still largely enjoyable. I like how here ABBA’s music is not only featured in the soundtrack but also sprinkled through the score with subtle instrumental versions of their classics in the background. A nice touch.
As far as the pacing goes it isn’t as quick as the first film though where here it is dealing with two distinct time periods, so between all of the transitions and new/old characters there’s more to do than before and it does affect the pacing. It does slow down at a few points in the story but the constant transitioning between Donna and Sophie’s stories kept things moving. I feel like director Ol Parker and the writers had a good grasp on when to slice in each of the two stories in a way that flowed and wasn’t jarring as it’s handled very well.
The cast through both the modern and past storylines are all great and deliver really well in terms of the music, comedy, and emotion. Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Dominic Cooper, Christine Baranski, and Julie Walters all return to their supporting roles and are just as effective as before. They all contribute much in the same way as in Mamma Mia! with the same blend of humour and drama unique to each of their characters. Then you have all of their younger counterparts who do a pretty great job at channeling the older versions of their characters. Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies specifically I thought channeled their older counterparts (played by Baranski and Walters respectively) the strongest and had some of the best moments of the film. Andy Garcia‘s role in the film is unclear and seemingly unnecessary until you realise he’s in here so that one comedic moment and musical moment can happen and in the end it’s kinda worth it. Amanda Seyfried is still amazing in her scenes and brings so much heart and emotion to the film. But the star here is Lily James who portrays a young Donna and does so incredibly well to where she matches the level of energy and charisma that Meryl Streep bought to the role in Mamma Mia!. She’s the star of the movie and the sole standout throughout the entire film making her scenes set in the past the more engaging of the bunch.
So, in the end Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a film that fans of the first film will no doubt get a really good kick out of. It adopts the same tone and feel as Mamma Mia!, the same style of humour, and with all of the fan-favourite characters returning it’s a must see for those fans. The story here isn’t as tight and fast paced as in Mamma Mia! so that’s where I’d say this one falls just short of the mark but it is still very enjoyable and there is a tonne of fun to be had through all of the musical and comedic moments. Fans should know what they’re getting here and it will not disappoint.