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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Ol Parker
Cast:
Amanda Seyfried, Lily Parker, Cher
Writing Credits:
Ol Parker

Synopsis:
Sophie prepares for the grand reopening of the Hotel Bella Donna as she learns more about her mother's past.

Box Office:
Budget:
$75 million.
Opening Weekend
$34,952,180 on 3317 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$120,634,935.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio:
English Dolby Atmos
Spanish Dolby 7.1
French Dolby 7.1
English DVS
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 10/9/2018

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Ol Parker
• Audio Commentary with Producer Judy Craymer
• Sing-Along Mode
• Deleted/Extended Songs/Scenes
• Enhanced Sing-Alongs
• “High Jinks” Outtakes
• “The Story” Featurette
• “Reunited” Featurette
• “Playing Donna” Featurette
• “Sophie’s Story” Featurette
• “Meeting Cher” Featurette
• “Costumes and the Dynamos” Featurette
• “Choreographing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” Featurette
• “Cast Meets Cast” Featurettes
• “Curtain Call” Featurette
• “Anatomy of a Scene” Featurette
• “Cast Chats” Featurettes
• “Performing for Legends” Featurette
• “Class of ‘79” Featurette
• “Today Interview with Cher and Judy Craymer”
• Previews
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

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RELATED REVIEWS


Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 21, 2018)

With a US gross of $144 million, 2008’s Mamma Mia! didn’t become a super-smash. Indeed, that gross meant it earned about 27 percent of the take gained by the year’s biggest hit, The Dark Knight.

Despite its semi-modest earnings, though, Mamma turned into a genuine cultural phenomenon, one with strong legs. It offered a rare musical that audiences embraced and enjoyed a much stronger cinematic afterlife than most movies.

So why did it take them 10 years to finally produce a sequel? I don’t know, but 2018 finally gave fans another chapter via Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

In the first film, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) planned to marry Sky (Dominic Cooper) at her mother Donna’s (Meryl Streep) Greek villa. Sophie also invited a group of three men that may have included her biological father: Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård). Chaos and romance ensued.

Five years later, Donna has passed away and Sophie plans to run the Greek hotel on her own. This leads to a mix of complications, including the arrival of Sophie’s grandmother (Cher).

In addition, Go shows us how young Donna (Lily James) got to know Sam (Jeremy Irvine), Harry (Hugh Skinner) and Bill (Josh Dylan). We also see other aspects of Donna’s early days, including her relationship with lifelong pals Rosie (Alexa Davies young, Julie Walters old) and Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn young, Christine Baranski old).

When I summarized the 2008 Mamma, I stated that it “feels like a mix of poorly-shot music videos cobbled together with some loose story elements. It’s such an amateurish product that you wonder how it got to the big screen, much less how it found such a substantial audience”.

Perversely, this made Go a borderline “must-watch” proposition. After such a massive creative failure in 2008, Go had to be an improvement, right?

Sure, though to be honest, the 2008 flick stunk so bad that it’d almost literally be impossible not to better it. Any vague sense of cinematic competence would offer an upgrade.

And we do get competence here, as Go actually features a real filmmaker at the helm. For Mamma, they used stage director Phyllida Lloyd in her cinematic debut.

Lloyd would improve for her follow-up – 2011’s Iron Lady - but her work on Mamma actively harmed the film. Though I’m not sure how much better it would’ve been with a seasoned director involved, Lloyd became an albatross.

For Go, the producers brought in Ol Parker. Most known as the writer of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, he seems like a somewhat perplexing choice to take on a musical, but at least the man comes with actual experience in filmmaking.

And it shows. No one will call Go a dynamic musical, but Parker stages it in a manner that manages a good sense of movement and he integrates the dual “past/present” narratives in a smooth manner.

There lies another improvement over the first film: Go boasts an actual story. As I mentioned, Mamma existed more as a conglomeration of videos and plot-like scenes, but it didn’t approximate a real narrative.

I blame the source for that, as I suspect the original version favored song/dance/fluff over real story. A stage production can get away with that kind of looseness in a way a movie can’t, and the absence of story progression became another major ding on Mamma.

Because it came into the world as a cinematic entity, Go doesn’t find itself beholden to prior work, and as a result, it comes with much tighter narrative structure. Indeed, Go shows real ambition in its attempts to link past and present.

The cynical side of me thinks they split the film between current Sophie and young Donna to make it easier to fill out two hours, but I think the conceit works reasonably well. The links between mother and daughter don’t feel gratuitous and they come together effectively in the end.

That said, the modern-day moments fare better, partly because Sophie gets the movie’s clearest arc, and Seyfried depicts the role well. She brings real heft to the part and conveys her role’s ups and downs in a compelling manner.

On the other hand, our time with young Donna proves less enjoyable. Though we’re supposed to view her a lively and free-spirited, she tends to come across as self-centered and impetuous. If we care about her, it’s because the script expects us to, not because she ever endears herself.

At least the flashback scenes let us enjoy Wynn’s delightful take on Tanya. Yes, she largely emulates Baranski, but Wynn adds enough of her own flavor to avoid simple impersonator status. She’s the only real pleasure to come out of the “young Donna” bits.

Actually, that’s not true, as we also get a fun turn from Omid Djalili as a Greek official who checks IDs. He appears in both past/present segments – though more past – and he offers an amusingly deadpan presence.

Despite those occasional pleasures, Go really does work best when it sticks with present day, and I wish the film either omitted or minimized the flashbacks. The 2018 segments manage to mix drama, comedy and songs in a way that creates a reasonably engaging tale.

Or maybe Go isn’t a very good movie but it just seems like brilliance compared to Mamma Mia. Whatever the case, it becomes a massive improvement over its predecessor and seems like a mostly decent musical comedy-drama.

Footnote: stick around through the conclusion of the end credits for a tag scene.


The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an appealing presentation.

Overall definition looked positive. A sliver of softness crept into some wider shots, but the majority of the movie offered nice delineation and accuracy. No issues with moiré effects or jaggies materialized, and I witnessed no signs of edge haloes or source flaws.

Like the first film, Go opted for a strong mix of teal, amber and orange. Despite the limitations of these choices, they boasted pretty good vivacity and represented the intended hues.

Blacks seemed dark and dense, while low-light shots offered good smoothness and clarity. Ultimately, the image was more than satisfactory.

In addition, the movie’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack suited the material. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, music dominated the proceedings, and the many songs used the various channels in an involving manner.

Effects had less to do, as they focused mainly on ambience. One storm sequence offered some involving information and a firework display added pizzazz, but these moments remained in the minority. Given the emphasis on music, that was fine, and the sides/surrounds provided enough material to succeed.

Audio quality also pleased. Again, music became the most dominant aspect of the mix, and the songs/score boasted fine range and impact.

Speech came across as natural and concise, whereas effects seemed accurate and realistic. Nothing here dazzled, but the track worked for the movie.

Universal packs the Blu-ray full of extras, and we find two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/rirector Ol Parker, as he brings a running, screen-specific discussion of story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music and choreography, visual effects, and aspects of his work as director.

At best, Parker brings a fairly informative and engaging chat, though he tends to focus on praise too much of the time. Still, he doesn’t go too crazy in that regard, so Parker makes this a generally enjoyable piece.

For the second commentary, we hear from producer Judy Craymer. She provides a running, screen-specific view of production design and costumes, cast and performances, music and production numbers, costumes, and other topics.

Inevitably, Craymer touches on some of the same areas as Parker, but she still manages to broaden into new domains as well. Craymer also lays off the heavy layer of happy talk, so this becomes a good discussion.

If so desired, fans can watch Go in Sing-Along Mode. As usual, this simply shows the lyrics at the bottom of the screen and makes them change color to reflect the words that need to be sung. I never understand why regular subtitles don’t suffice, but it’s a painless addition nonetheless.

In a similar vein, Enhanced Sing-Alongs lets you access any of the movie’s 18 songs or view them as one 46-minute, 36-second package. How do these differ from the prior “Sing-Along” mode? They just animate the on-screen lyrics in a moderately more active manner. It’s not a big upgrade.

Under Deleted/Extended Songs and Scenes, we get four snippets. This area includes “I Wonder (Deleted Song Performance)” (3:04), “The Name of the Game (Extended Song Performance)” (3:13), “Knowing Me Knowing You (Extended Song Performance)” (2:41) and “Tahini (Deleted Scene)” (1:38).

Of the four, “Wonder” and “Tahini” are the most significant. “Wonder” lets Donna sing about her future and that of her friends, while “Tahini” shows the development of the young Donna/Sam relationship.

The other two seem less substantial, mainly because they simply add to existing elements. “Wonder” feels like the only one that would’ve easily fit the final cut. “Knowing” does let us hear more “singing” from Pierce Brosnan – this probably isn’t a good thing.

We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Parker. He lets us know about the shots and why they didn’t make the film. He gives some decent notes but don’t expect a lot of discussion, as Parker wraps up his thoughts pretty quickly across all the scenes.

High Jinks offers a one-minute, nine-second collection of outtakes. Set to “Waterloo”, we see some shenanigans on the set. Because it highlights some unusual characters, it seems a little better than usual.

A slew of video programs follow, and we start with The Story. It goes for five minutes, 33 seconds and includes Parker, Craymer, choreographer Anthony Van Laast, songwriter Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, producer Gary Goetzman, storywriter Richard Curtis, and actors Judy Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Christine Baranski, Andy Garcia, and Meryl Streep.

“Story” looks at the origins/development of the stage production and 2008 movie as well as aspects of the sequel’s creation. This becomes a basic, fluff-oriented piece.

With the three-minute, 33-second Mamma Mia! Reunited, we hear from Baranski, Craymer, Streep, Brosnan, Parker, Walters, Goetzman, and actors Colin Firth, Amanda Seyfried, Dominic Cooper and Stellan Skarsgard. They talk about how happy they were to reunite in this superficial clip.

Acting comes to the fore with Playing Donna, a two-minute, 28-second reel with Streep, James, and actors Lily James, Jeremy Irvine, and Hugh Skinner. Though ostensibly about challenges related to the role, mainly this one just praises James. Little information emerges.

Next comes Sophie’s Story, a three-minute, 30-second piece with Brosnan, Seyfriend, Streep, Cooper, Parker, Walters, and Baranski. Seyfried reflects on changes in her life/character since 2008. A few minor nuggets emerge, but mostly it’s the usual fluff.

An icon becomes the focus of Meeting Cher, a three-minute, 43-second clip with Streep, Parker, Craymer, Goetzman, Firth, Cooper, James, Ulvaeus, Garcia, Irvine, Walters, and actor Cher. It essentially exists to tout Cher’s greatness, so expect little more.

For a look at clothes, we get Costumes and the Dynamos. It runs four minutes, 59 seconds and features Craymer, James, Streep, Parker, Firth, Skarsgard, costume designer Michele Clapton, and actors Alexa Davies and Jessica Kennan Wynn.

Inevitably, this one discusses various costumes. Also inevitably, it tends toward more happy talk than I’d prefer, but it throws out some useful details along the way.

Next comes Choreographing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, a seven-minute, 25-second program with Craymer, Van Laast, James, Wynn, Parker, Skinner, Skarsgard, Firth, Cher, associate choreographer Nichola Treherne, assistant choreographer Lucy Bardrick, and actor Josh Dylan.

Unsurprisingly, this one covers the movie’s dance sequences. Like its siblings, it seems too superficial, but it manages a decent number of insights.

Worlds collide in the two clips under Cast Meets Cast. We get “Tanya Meets Tanya” (3:10) and “Rosie Meets Rosie” (3:15).

In the first, Baranski and Wynn chat, while the second pairs Walters and Davies. These offer cute reels but nothing substantial – and why don’t we get Streep/James?

During the three-minute, 59-second Curtain Call, we locate info from Brosnan, Goetzman, Streep, James, Van Laast, Cher, Parker, Seyfried, Cooper, Craymer, Baranski, Ulvaeus, Skarsgard, Firth, Dylan, Irvine, Skinner, and director of photography Robert Yeoman. It tells us a little about the end credits production number. Most of the content remains glib and superficial.

With Anatomy of a Scene, we get a three-minute, 26-second piece with Parker, Craymer, Goetzman, Craymer, Seyfried, Van Laast, Walters, Baranski, Yeoman, Skarsgard, Firth, Brosnan, Bardrick, Treherne, and Curtis. This provides a view of the “Dancing Queen” scene, and it’s far too short to tell us much.

We hear more from the actors via Cast Chats. It breaks into two segments: “Dynamo Chit-Chat” (2:42) and “Dad Chat” (2:19).

“Dynamo” features James, Wynn and Davies, while “Dad” mixes Skinner, Irvine and Dylan. We get some general notes about their experiences but as usual, not much substance emerges.

Performing for Legends occupies two minutes, 46 seconds with comments from Streep, James, Seyfried, Ulvaeus, Davies, Andersson, and Wynn. The actors tell us they felt intimidated to sing ABBA songs in front of two members of ABBA. The end.

For the three-minute, 48-second Class of ‘79, we hear from Irvine, Brosnan, Parker, Goetzman, Craymer, Davies, James, Streep, Wynn, Baranski, Skinner, Firth, Dylan and Skarsgard. This looks at the actors who play the “young” versions. Much praise and a few decent tidbits come along for the ride.

Finally, we get a Today Interview with Cher and Craymer. It goes for four minutes, 35 seconds and shows their chat with Kathie Lee Gifford. It’s praise and promotion.

The disc opens with ads for Adrift, Spirit: Riding Free, Unbroken: Path to Redemption and Pitch Perfect 3. No trailer for Go appears here.

To call Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again an improvement over its predecessor would be a massive understatement. Not that Go turns into a great film, but it's a professional piece of work that becomes sporadically effective. The Blu-ray brings pretty good picture and audio along with a long but often superficial set of supplements. Go is the film Mamma Mia should’ve been.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main