Mamma Mia! appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. This was a good but not great transfer.
Sharpness usually appeared acceptably accurate and detailed. At times, however, I found the image to come across as a little fuzzy and soft, with lesser definition seen in some of the wide shots. Nonetheless, most of the movie appeared clear and appropriately focused. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no concerns, but I noticed some light edge enhancement at times. No print flaws materialized; the film remained clean and fresh.
In terms of colors, the flick went with a golden Mediterranean feel. The film desired a picture postcard look that the DVD delivered fairly well. Within its parameters, the tones looked fine. Blacks were dark and firm, while shadows appeared clear and well-developed. The image didn’t really excel, but it was fine.
As for the film’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, it offered a functional effort and that was all. Of course, I didn’t expect a dazzling soundfield from this sort of musical, and I got exactly what I anticipated. In terms of effects, general ambience ruled the day. Surround usage stayed limited; the back speakers gently fleshed out various settings but did no more than that.
In those forward channels, the music provided nice stereo separation and opened up the mix reasonably well. There wasn’t a whole lot of activity or movement, but the effects conveyed a passable sense of space and place. Surround bolstered the music in a decent manner. The track functioned appropriately for the story.
Audio quality appeared fine. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural, and speech displayed no concerns related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects were a minor component of the mix, and they seemed appropriately subdued and accurate; there wasn’t much to hear, but the various elements were clean and distinct. The music came across as acceptably distinctive. This became a decent reproduction of the material.
A mix of extras fills out this 2-DVD set. On Disc One, we open with an audio commentary from director Phyllida Lloyd. She provides a running, screen-specific chat that looks at cast and performances, the adaptation of the stage musical, music and choreography, sets and locations, cinematography, production design, and a few other subjects.
While I don’t care for her movie, I think Lloyd provides a strong examination of the production. She covers virtually all of the appropriate topics and does so in an engaging manner. I’d have liked to learn more about what it was like to shift from the stage to the screen, but I can’t complain, as I think Lloyd offers a lot of good info here.
A Deleted Musical Number runs three minutes, one second. “The Name of the Game” comes during Sophie’s chat with Bill to figure out if he’s her dad. I don’t know why they cut it; it’s no worse than anything in the final flick.
In addition to the standard movie presentation, we can watch it in Sing-Along Mode. The film actually ran theatrically with this feature. It simply runs lyrics at the bottom of the screen; the big block capital letters change from blue to yellow as the songs progress. If I actually wanted to croon along with the movie, I’d prefer the standard subtitles; they’re less ugly. Note that the “Sing-Along” is available in English, Spanish and French.
A few ads launch DVD One. We get promos for Beethoven’s Big Break, some NBC series, Mamma Mia! on stage, Billy Elliott: The Musical, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Milk and Blu-Ray Disc.
Over on DVD Two, we start with five Deleted Scenes. These last a total of eight minutes, six seconds. We find longer introductions to the three potential fathers, a sequence in which Sophie badgers Sky to follow her will, more of the Dynamos arrival, an extension to “Lay All Your Love On Me”, and a bit more to the potential romance between Bill and Rosie. These are pretty minor scenes, though fans will enjoy them, I suppose.
One annoyance: the DVD presents the scenes in a way that makes them all blend into each other. At times it becomes tough to tell when one ends and the next begins. Would it have killed the DVD’s producers to leave a second or two of black screen to separate the clips?
One minute and 34 seconds of Outtakes arrive next. Don’t expect more than the standard goofs and giggles. This short reel doesn’t give us much of interest.
After this we locate six featurettes. The Making of Mamma Mia! goes for 24 minutes, seven seconds as it provides notes from Lloyd, producer/creator Judy Craymer, producer Gary Goetzman, lyricist/executive producer Bjorn Ulvaeus, screenwriter Catherine Johnson, composer/executive producer Benny Anderson, music director Martin Lowe, choreographer Anthony Van Laast, executive producer Mark Huffam, production designer Maria Djurkovic, and actors Meryl Streep, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierce Brosnan, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Colin Firth, and Dominic Cooper.
“Making” looks at the adaptation of the stage production, Lloyd’s direction, aspects of the flick’s music and choreography, sets and locations, and cast and performances. Here we find a fairly fluffy look at the film. We already learn much of the info from Lloyd’s commentary, so don’t expect many new details. The addition of some behind the scenes elements makes the show more worthwhile, but it remains pretty mediocre.
For the five-minute and 42-second Anatomy of a Musical Number, we hear from Lloyd, Cooper, Lowe, Seyfried, and Van Laast. “Anatomy” looks at “Lay All Your Love On Me”, as it digs into various aspects of that tune’s presentation. It does a good job of this, as it provides a nice little recap.
Becoming a Singer goes for 10 minutes, 55 seconds and features Lloyd, Andersson, Streep, Goetzman, Ulvaeus, Lowe, Baranski, Skarsgård, Craymer, Brosnan, Firth, Seyfried, and Huffam. The featurette looks at issues related to the music, with an emphasis on turning the actors into vocalists. Through the piece, we get good glimpses of the recording sessions and other background elements. Those allow this to become an interesting piece.
During the four-minute and 14-second Behind the Scenes with Amanda. We follow the actress through various parts of the production. It’s very fluffy.
The movie’s setting comes to the fore in On Location in Greece. The show lasts four minutes, five seconds and features Goetzman, Lloyd, Craymer, Huffam, and Baranski. It provids a smattering of facts about the shoot, but mostly it comes across like a travelogue.
Lastly, A Look Inside Mamma Mia! runs two minutes, 41 seconds as it shows Brosnan, Streep, Baranski, Craymer, Andersson, Ulvaeus, Seyfried, Lloyd, and Goetzman. This is a basic promotional featurette and nothing more, so don’t expect any substance. It is the only place here where we see shots of ABBA and of the original stage production.
Next comes a Music Video for “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)”. Essentially a vehicle for Seyfried, it mixes shots of her in the studio and on some locations with movie clips. Seyfried remains pretty hot, but this is a dull excuse for a video.
For a look at a real live member of ABBA, we go to the Bjorn Ulvaeus Cameo. The one-minute, 36-second clip offers a specific look at the ABBA composer’s brief appearance in the film. It’s a nice way to isolate him since he passes by pretty quickly in the flick.
DVD Two also includes a digital copy of Mamma. This allows you to copy the film to your computer or to a portable digital device. If that suits you, go nuts!
Despite a pretty good cast and a roster of solid pop tunes, Mamma Mia! thoroughly flops as a movie. Granted, it might flop as a stage production as well; I never saw it so I can’t say. I do know that the film production suffers from a myriad of problems and comes with exceedingly few strengths to balance out those weaknesses. The DVD provides fairly good picture and audio as well as a collection of extras highlighted by a very nice audio commentary. Too bad the movie itself is a grating dud.