Mike Torchic’s review published on Letterboxd:
Upon seeing the first film only a week ago, my excitement for this film increased dramatically. I mean, I really liked the first film, and I love ABBA.
With that being said, after a long day I decided to dance and jive my ass down to the theater to see the sequel, and god was it a ton of fun.
Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is a great film, and is a rare sequel that I think is better than its predecessor. The film not only doubles down on the entertaining musical numbers, but it also develops these characters more, and has a very touching story at its core.
The film is both a sequel to the first film and also a prequel. As a sequel, it follows Sophie as she attempts to re-open her mother’s villa, as well as dealing with some new life hardships. As a prequel, the film follows a young Donna as she meets Sophie’s dad(s) and finds her place in the world. Each one of these stories is well fleshed our, and it never feels like one is more of a priority than the other. I really enjoyed the prequel storyline, as many events mirror the first film, and the characters are so damn irresistible. Seeing a young Donna and the Dynamos was entertaining as well, the bond between the characters feeling real and genuine. We also get to meet young versions of Harry, Bill and Sam, all of whom try to swoon Donna. While the prequel storyline does provide for many lighthearted moments in the film, the emotional core lies in the sequel storyline. Sophie is dealing with many life events, and nothing seems to be going her way. Her life somewhat mirrors her mothers at points, and her looking to her mothers past for guidance is what really carries the film. I felt more for these characters this time around, now that I’ve seen them when they were young, how they were 10 years ago, and how they are now. Their arcs have now come full circle, and it makes me view there characters in a whole new light now. This film thematically is more mature than the first, and that is one of the major things I enjoyed about it. Aside from the general story, the musical numbers are as good as the first one, some even better. The choreography was great, as were the singing performances. Each actor gave it their all, and it definitely reflected it in the final product. Also, Pierce Brosnan doesn’t sing that much in this one so that’s a plus. Honestly, I just felt that this film was more mature at heart. You can definitely tell that the writers wanted to create something with meaning, and not have this be a sequel made purely for profit. They genuinely felt like they had a story to tell, and they told it really really well.
The performances this time around were great as always. Amanda Seyfried was great as Sophie, and it was nice seeing Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgård back as Sophie’s dads. That being said, the real star of the show here was Lily James as a young Donna Sheridan. James not only captures the spirit of the character, but she also has a killer singing voice. Seriously, for someone who had little singing experience before this film, she really did incredible. I also really enjoyed Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alexa Davies as young Tonya and Rosie, respectively. Keenan Wynn is almost like a mini Christine Baranski, capturing her mannerisms and wit. Davies also has some great comedic bits, and some moments made my theater erupt in laughter. Nearly every performance in this movie was great, adding to an already great film. Also, everyone clapped when Cher came onscreen.
This is the first time I’ve seen Ol Parker as a director, and he was pretty impressive to say the least. He somehow made this film seem more cinematic than the original, especially with the musical sequences. His direction also worked hand in hand with Robert Yeoman’s cinematography, which captured the lavishly choreographed dancing. The visuals and direction here were top notch, and I do have to say that I enjoyed the direction here more than the first film.
Overall, I absolutely loved Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. It brought back everything I loved about the first film and added even more, creating one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve had this year. If you love ABBA, or just want to have a good old time, I strongly encourage you to see this in theaters, as it really won’t be a film you forget.