MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN Serves as Both Sequel and Prequel

The lively ABBA-centric musical comes with hours of special features

L to R: Jessica Keenan Wynn, Lily James and Alexa Davies are Donna and the Dynamos in the 1979 flashbacks.

The gang’s back together in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again. Although it’s been 10 years since the audience last visited a crumbling hotel on a Greek isle, the hit sequel takes place five years after the events in Mamma Mia. Sophie is now 25 and preparing for the grand opening of the Hotel Bella Donna, while grieving the loss of her mother. As the original crew arrives to the festivities, young Donna (Lily James) frolics through flashbacks. Donna meets and is romanced by the trio of suitors; only one will break her heart.

As producer Judy Cramer notes in one of the several featurettes, this film serves as a prequel and a sequel. The main six cast members, whose characters reunited in Mamma Mia!, each have younger counterparts in the 1979 flashbacks. The new additions range from passable resemblance to downright uncanny (Jessica Keenan Wynn as young Tanya, whoa!). And of course there are more ABBA hits to sing along with — the Blu-ray pack contains a specific track for this exact activity.

Julie Walters, Amanda Seyfried and Christine Baranski in MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN.

A few songs from the first iteration are reprised: Pierce Brosnan’s Sam solemnly sings lines from “S.O.S.” as a remembrance, and “Dancing Queen” returns larger and more ostentatious (characters and extras dancing & singing on boats). The staging for “One of Us” captures the impact of the emotional and geographical distance between Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) and Sky (Dominic Cooper), using editing and visual effects in a subtle yet effective manner.

Sophie’s song with the Dynamos, “I’ve Been Waiting for You,” and the new musical’s take on “My Love, My Life” may have the viewer tearing up — this viewer certainly did. Both “Fernando” and the closing spectacular of “Super Trouper” make good use of Cher’s pipes, so they’re standouts as well.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again matches the fun of the first film with a further depth of emotion as it turns into a celebration of motherhood. Julie Walters and Christine Baranski are just as wonderful as the last time; again, they leave me wishing we had more time with their Tanya and Rosie.

Universal Pictures knows the viewers are eager for more, and their Blu-ray package is full to bursting with special features. From short featurettes we learn how Lily James prepared for her role (by watching Mamma Mia! multiple times) and how producer Judy Cramer was the instigator of the original Broadway show, the later film, and this eventual follow-up. It could take multiple viewings to delve into all the extras, the singalong track, and the two (!!) commentary tracks. But for this movie, one viewing won’t be enough. There’s much to enjoy and so very many ABBA songs to sing along to.

Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård and Pierce Brosnan are back.

Special features on the Universal Pictures Blu-ray package include:

  • Deleted and expanded musical numbers
  • “High jinks” (unfortunately this is not a reel of outtakes, just performers acting silly on camera)
  • Playing Donna: Pointing out how Lily James mimics Streep’s previous performance, while adding her own flair
  • Meeting Cher: Castmates gush with excitement about sharing the screen with the legendary performer
  • Anatomy of a Scene: An in-depth look at the choreography and staging for this new “Dancing Queen”
  • Performing for Legends: The actors talk about recording tracks with Benny & Bjorn (original ABBA band members, who make cameos in the movie)
  • Short discussions between Keenan-Wynn & Baranski about playing Tanya and Alexa Davies & Walters on Rosie’s growth
  • Numerous other featurettes about costuming, filming the curtain call, and more
  • Two commentary tracks: Director Ol Parker on one, and producer Judy Cramer on the other

This Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again Blu-ray+DVD+digital package is currently available for purchase: Amazon.

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