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Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again feels somewhat of a silent assassin from this summer’s box office. The film took in almost $125 million domestically and almost $450 million worldwide. Until Crazy Rich Asians, the film had a firm spot in the Top 10. Its almost like its predecessor, which was actually somewhat of a phenomenon back in 2008. But, if I told you it made more money globally than Iron Man, you’d think I was crazy. That’s the truth though. Why did they do a sequel? Look how big that first film was. They earned it and obviously there were people there for it. Ten years later probably brought some fondness but I feel like had they done it within three years of the first it might’ve been a bit bigger. Whatever, whatever. This sequel was still a big deal. Big enough that if they’d want to make a trilogy, the audience is probably there. Though, I think this film serves more as a nice encore to the fantastic concert you saw before. You can pick up this second album/remix album/original demos 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray when it arrives on October 23rd from Universal!

Film 

In 1979 young Donna, Tanya and Rose graduate from Oxford University – leaving Donna free to embark on a series of adventures throughout Europe. On her journeys, she makes the acquaintances of Harry, Bill and Sam – the latter whom she falls in love with, but he’s also the man who breaks her heart. In the present day, Donna’s pregnant daughter, Sophie, dreams of renovating a taverna while reuniting with her mother’s old friends and boyfriends on the Greek island of Kalokairi.

Musical sequels aren’t a road traveled by many. Typically its one and done, but when there’s one that really catches fire with pop culture, they’ll move forward and give it try. You’ll get your Grease 2 or even Shock Treatment. And if they have something in common, its that they fall very short of what came before and are either forgotten quickly or become the butt of some jokes. Mamma Mia!’s stage show never had a sequel and one hadn’t been thought of until the big time box office performance of the original film. They’d be heading into uncharted territory. Luckily, since the story is fueled by the music of pop supergroup ABBA, the music had already been written and could serve as a helpful guide.

With a second story, they decided to follow the The Godfather Part II approach in telling both a sequel and a prequel to the original story. Sadly, Meryl Steep’s Donna, part of our drive and light in the original film, is deceased during the present day story and our characters are brought back together in celebration of her daughter restoring a tavern that was a place that inspired her to stay on the island in her youth. During that we flash back to the events of her and her beaus that was mentioned upon in the original story. What comes around with it is satisfying enough, but unlike The Godfather Part II feels as if our the characters portrayed by the actors we remember in present day are sort of stagnant and given not much to do, while their younger counterparts who we are not familiar with travel around and get into exciting adventures.  One takes place over a summer and the other is going over a period of a day or hours.

Our younger iterations are pretty fun and jovial, but its still nothing like watching Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skaarsgard and Colin Firth wander the frame and belt out ABBA musical numbers you’d never have expected them to do in their career. These young guys feel more like they were made for it. However, the fellow who plays the young Harry does pull of a dynamite showstopping number with Waterloo. When it comes to the young Dynamos, these gals seems to have truly captured the spirit of their older counterparts to the degree with which you actually feel like you’ve traveled back in time and are seeing an actual video of them. They both look and act accordingly.

I’ve saved Lily James her own paragraph here because she’s fantastic in this movie and completely drives it all home. It’s a bummer that Meryl Streep isn’t more involved with this movie and her older version of the character was essentially written out, but James will make you forget about that almost instantly (Or every time we cut back to her arc). She’s every bit the essence of Donna while carving out her own piece of the pie herself. And she is killer in the musical numbers with which she is given the most (And even had one cut from the film). Quite frankly, much of the prequel storyline I wasn’t on board with because I felt I got the gist of what happened in the first film and this was merely the literal visual interpretation of that. But, Miss James completely made me not care and invested me into all of it with her outstanding radiant charisma displayed on screen. She agrees to be the sole reason to see the movie.

The narrative surely is both a sequel and a prequel, but the film feels like an encore performance. Our band left the stage after the last film and we were so ecstatic and chanting “One more song”, so the cast has come out and given us some additional numbers before they pack it up. There are some other ABBA songs added to this musical, but many are new performances and interpretations of popular numbers from the last film. So, you’re getting more of the hits again. In some instances, it is sort of neat as you see where an action, a number, a relationship, a “song” was formed in the past to become what it was in the original film. How a song meant something completely different in the 1970s than it did back in 2008 (Or when the first film was set). This clever re-usage not only feels it informs characters but speaks somewhat to the power of music itself over generations with youth discovering older music or finding things through a modern cover. Maybe that’s a deeper dive than intended, but its surely there in the film if you want to take that interpretation.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again surely goes…again, revisiting many of the songs from the first film/stage production and showcasing them in a new light. Much of what goes on here was given to us over some colorful exposition in the first film and now we get to see the events unfold ourselves and maybe in a way, see where the song and dance numbers were inspired from in the original story. While never quite getting to the highs of the original, this is not a crime, but a well-earned and deserved victory lap, worthy of being a follow up to what many consider a masterpiece.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again was mastered with a 2K digital intermediate, making its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray transfer an upscale. However that may get a fanboy in their pissy pants, this films looks absolutely gorgeous on the format. Tropical paradises are an easy lay for the 4K format, but this one still head above and beyond that with vibrant, beautiful colors that pop and nice natural blacks that fill in quite rich looking shadows. It’s a sharp, gazing and crisp image that jumps right off the screen with very distinct detail and texture. Toss out the word upscale as a sin when it comes to something like this, as no matter, it looks excellent and if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t care. Its just a label and text, let the picture quality do the actual telling.

Depth:  Spaciousness comes with ease in this image. Backdrops look pushed back and three dimensional in their presentation. Camera movements sweep around smoothly and manage to produce some breathtaking looks at the gorgeous tropical scenery. Movements look very natural and cinematic. No issues occur at all with blurring or jittering when it comes to a bit more rapid or large group choreography.

Black Levels: Blacks hang naturally and craft some terrific shadow in the picture. Much of this film is quite well lit. The nighttime scenes also carry some beauty to them while being able to retain good shade and holding on to all details present. Hair follicles, clothing and surfaces that are black or dark in color have many discernible, well saturated tones that keep the details coming through very strong.

Color Reproduction:  With a vivid picture like this, colors burst naturally off the screen in a 4K Ultra-HD image. Reds, greens, blues, purples, you name it. They look lovely and pop right off the screen. The HDR comes into luscious effect, culminating in some good candlelight, window lighting and then putting on a fantastic show when some fireworks begin popping up in the nighttime sky. Speaking of nighttime, during the final sequences of the film which are set in the evening, things really start to roar out of the screen as the color showcase even more beauty and ability to glow naturally.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones feature a little warmer tone to them and keep a constant look even in the back and forth between the 1970s and present day. Facial features like wrinkles, make-up brush lines, lip texture, stubble and more come through clear as day. It even manages to make the ageless wonder Pierce Brosnan look a little old in a few closeups.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Spanish 7.1 Dolby Digital, French 7. 1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again comes with a rich, free flying Atmos track that’ll bring the stage production sound right to your viewing area. No speaker goes unnoticed in this well thought out mix that not only has the speakers given individual tasks or helping to move something around the room, they all can act as one to really give a musical number a big jolt. This mix has some very fun moments utilizes the ceiling speaker capabilities as well. For what the expectations of this movie should be, and how they deliver, you’re getting a top notch performance and one of the best on the format.

Height: Bikes riding over camera, birds, debris falling, rain, singing and many other little trinkets of sounds are well thought out and executed overhead. I especially loved the motion of a storm that goes over head and you almost feel the wind blowing the drops over toward the right and then hearing them rest back toward the left again.

Low Frequency Extension:  Much of what the subwoofer bumps is in the bass and drums of the music, but there are some moments, like waves hitting or the staircase collapsing that provide some good, deep bumping and rumbling.

Surround Sound Presentation:  This mix takes good care in bringing environments to life by making sure all surrounding speakers are both given something to do and are aware of the 360 degree environment around them. They also work together to put together some wonderful rolling movements and also build the concert, arena-filling fullness of the music numbers to burst a room into song and dance.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are clear and crisp, with fantastic attention to diction. The transition from dialogue to obviously ADR’d singing is not very drastic and pretty close to natural. Said singing is presented in good dynamic fashion and is never overbearing and both part of the instrumental and the scene while at the same time clearly taking the spotlight in the mix.

Extras 

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director/Screenplay Writer Ol Parker
  • With Producer Judy Craymer

Sing-A-Long Mode

Deleted/Extended Songs And Scenes with Option Commentary by Ol Parker

  • Deleted Song Performance: “I Wonder” (HD, 3:04)
  • Extended Song Performance: “The Name Of The Game” (HD, 3:13)
  • Extended Song Performance: “Knowing Me, Knowing You” (HD, 2:41)
  • Deleted Scene: Tahini (HD, 1:38)

High Jinks (HD, 1:19) – A montage with just music and a few comedic bits that seemingly didn’t make it into the film.

Enhanced Sing-Alongs (HD, 46:37) – The ability to directly access on an individual track basis from the Sing-A-Long version of the film.

  • Thank You For The Music
  • When I Kissed The Teacher
  • One Of Us
  • Waterloo
  • O.S.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Me?
  • I Have A Dream
  • Kisses Of Fire
  • Adante, Adante
  • The Name Of The Game
  • Knowing Me, Knowing You
  • Mamma Mia
  • Angel Eyes
  • Dancing Queen
  • I’ve Been Waiting For You
  • Fernando
  • My Love, My Life
  • Super Trouper

The Story (HD, 5:33) – A quick piece (45 seconds of which are end credits) that praises Judy Craymer to open then sits with her as she describes her journey to bring the Abba songs to life on stage and then two the screen. It turns toward the process of taking the “Godfather Part II” approach to the sequel.

Mamma Mia! Reunited (HD, 3:33) – Everyone talks how much fun it was to get the cast back together, but with the worry of not tarnishing the memory of what they did before.

Playing Donna (HD, 2:28) – Meryl Streep and Lily James discuss playing the character of Donna and crafting young Donna for this film.

Sophie’s Story (HD, 3:30) – Focuses on Amanda Seyfried reprising the role after 10 years and where her character has come in 10 years.

Meeting Cher (HD, 3:43) – “I only wrote this part for one person. It had to be her.” This featurette focuses on Cher’s involvement in the film and her love for the original stage production. They also showcase how in awe the cast and crew were with her “James Bond was waiting in line for his turn to take a picture with Cher!”

Costumes And The Dynamos (HD, 4:49) – This piece goes over the costuming styling and bringing the late 1970s to life in the young Donna side of the story.

Choreographing Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (HD, 7:25) – This piece shows the appreciation of choreographer Anthony Van Laast and his work on the sequel in coming up with the dances from scratch not having the adaptation crutch like the first one did.

Cast Meets Cast – The two members of The Dynamos sit down with their younger counterparts and discuss the character.

  • Tanya Meets Tanya (HD, 3:10)
  • Rosie Mets Rosie (HD, 3:15)

Curtain Call (HD, 3:59) – “We’re closing the show with Super Trouper folks.” Everyone in the film talks about the incredible moment of having the full cast together for a big number at the end of the film with a bit more up tempo and new introduction for the song “Super Trouper”.

Dancing Queen: Anatomy Of A Scene (HD, 3:26) – “You hear the music to Dancing Queen, you just gotta let it rip.” This featurette discusses the new big number for Dancing Queen in the sequel and the difficulty of choreographing people on boats.

Cast Chats – The new cast members playing the younger iterations discuss their preparations and challenges of singing and bringing it to life.

  • Dynamo Chit-Chat (HD, 2:42)
  • Dad Chat (HD, 2:19)

Performing For Legends (HD, 2:46) – This one discusses recording the music of ABBA for the film and working in the studio to lay down the tracks.

Class Of ’79 (HD, 3:48) – Focuses on capturing the essence of the characters in their youthful interpretations.

TODAY Interview With Cher & Judy Craymer (HD, 4:34) – Kathie Lee interviews the iconic singer and producer of the film.

Summary 

Mamma Mia! Here We Go is a sequel of encore proportions, bringing our favorites out on stage for just “One more song” in a film fluffy, fun and carrying much of the energy present in the first. Universals 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray presentation provides us with a “dynamo” performance in both visuals and audio, hitting the top tier of what the format can do at this stage in the game. There is an pant-load of extras, all of which are short and EPK’ish, but carry over the fun and spirit of the film. If you any sort of like the first one or are looking for a top notch presentation on 4K Ultra-HD, pick up Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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