I never thought that I would one day make a comparison between the Mamma Mia! franchise and the Alien franchise, but here I am. Just as Alien 3 immediately alienated (pun partially intended) fans of Aliens by killing off characters viewers had come to love between films, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again eliminates Meryl Streep’s character, the protagonist of the original film (this information is revealed within the first 5 minutes, so I don’t feel guilty for spoiling anything). Giving viewers a sour feeling from the get-go is never a great way to start a movie that aims to be a fluffy, cheerful piece of escapism.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again jumps back and forth in time. In the present day, it tells the story of Streep’s daughter (Amanda Seyfried), who is opening a hotel named after her mother on a beautiful Greek island. But there are also many flashbacks to Streep’s character as a younger woman (Lily James) and how she met the three men who may be Seyfried’s father (played in the flashbacks by Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, & Hugh Skinner and in the present by Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Stellan Skarsgard). Again, the cast performs several hit songs by the beloved 70s group ABBA.
James (Downton Abbey, Cinderella) has a magnetic screen presence and should have a successful future ahead of her. The script, co-written by Notting Hill and Love, Actually scribe Richard Curtis, evokes a few laughs—but there are also plenty of moments that land with a thud. Also, the film reaches what feels like a natural stopping point about 90 minutes in, yet then proceeds to run for another 25 minutes.