REVIEW: “MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN” (2018) Universal Pictures

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Oh my my my my “MAMMA MIA!! HERE WE GO AGAIN” had me from the moment one with my devotion and love for true icons ABBA & C-H-E-R all in one movie. What I didn’t expect, was an actual good movie.

Starting off, this sequel to ‘Mamma Mia’, which also presents itself as a prequel, in my world, this is a two-for-one deal of epic-ness that I loved from the get go. “Here We Go Again” has a much better story line than the original, and while all your faves return, you also make some great new ones. Writer/director Ol Parker – gets some good deeper cuts in, too with this being a new, complex and more mature story involving the characters we’ve known, and sang and danced along with for the past decade. The film quickly establishes the parallel stories with it’s fantastic opening number of “I Kissed A Teacher” and boom! we are introduced to the world of a young Donna (played terrifically by Lily James). Moving along back into the world of Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), is re-opening the hotel her mom Donna (Meryl Streep) ran. Donna died the previous year (this isn’t really isn’t a spoiler). In her mom’s honor, Sophie has renovated the place and is ready for a big celebration, with nearly every important person in her life invited, including Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Donna’s Dynamo sisters – Tanya (Christine Baranski) and Rosie (Julie Walters).

“Here We Go Again” explores within it’s flashbacks, a vibrant and spontaneous Donna of the 1970’s, as she seeks an adventurous life – and we see how she meets the three younger versions of the men whom will play major roles in her life – Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine). It would take more space than I have to touch on every performance, so I’ll just sum it up and highlight a few. With this turn as Donna, Lily James is now officially a STAR as she will charm the socks off of you. In one simple, minute-long scene, Brosnan redeems himself for his lack of singing ability from the original. And in spectacular fashion with white silk wig and pantsuit to match, the one..the only..Cher makes a grand entrance in the final act as Sophie’s grandma… and instantly captivates the screen. And though how she gets to the point of singing is a big spoiler that I just can’t reveal, I will happily admit to yelling out “YES! YES! YES” when it did happen, media screening or not. (no one usually does something like this during them – but I wasn’t alone in my squealing joy of this.. so 🙂 )

Every single person here, from our older versions of Harry (Colin Firth) & Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) doing a bit of ‘Titanic’ for us all, to Fernando (Andy Garcia) & Sky (Dominic Cooper), looks like they’re having an absolute blast, and that happiness is resonates throughout the film and spreads to the audience. ‘Here We Go Again’ provides a carefree, yet meaningful, fun energy that’s so hard to find these days, even in musicals. I got chills during performances of “Mamma Mia!” and “Dancing Queen”, though those are saved till a little later in the film, as the first half has some of Abba’s lesser known hits dominating – though a true ABBA fan will know them!

Sure Mamma Mia 2! might not be perfect – and I might be a sap for anything musical related to ABBA & Cher – but I can guarantee a good time will be had by all who see it. And the beautiful, sweet final scene has a spirit all its own, touching on loss and new life in ways that will hit very close to home. I can only say — I do, I do, I do, I DO want you to see this film.

Grade: B
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Monday, July 16, 2018 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
“MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN” WILL BE OUT NATIONWIDE/WORLDWIDE ON FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2018

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REVIEW: “EVEREST” (2015) Universal Pictures

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CourageFearPainStrength – all the words used in the trailer to describe this film based on a true story. Though after watching this movie I can’t help but think they might have skipped a word – Insanity – because truly one must have a bit of this to even attempt to climb this mountain. To know going in that there is a 60/40 percent chance you might not come down..would and does deter most.

In ‘Everest’ we get brought back to 1996 when the big mountain had been actually been conquered enough times that it was no longer the specter it once had been. That didn’t stop people from wanting to climb it, instead it ended up turning it into a business. Leader of the trend is the New Zealand business team “Adventure Consultants” with partners Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) & Helen Wilton (Emily Watson). The teams that head to the summit are a mix of seasoned pros and moneyed amateurs, forking over fortunes to earn both killer views they get momentarily and probably most importantly thing of course, the bragging rights. On one team you have the clients – ‘average’ guy, mailman Doug Hansen (John Hawkes), the big Texan, Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin), journalist Jon Krakauer (Michael Kelly) and the one small Asian woman, a 47 yr old climber of 6 of the tallest peaks in the world, Yasuko Namba (Naoki Mori) along with guides Hall, Andy “Harold” Harris (Martin Henderson) & Michael Groom (Thomas M. Wright) – on the other team “Mountain Madness” you have the college frat guy guide Scott Fisher (Jake Gyllenhaal) & Anatoli Boukreev (Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson) who refuses to use oxygen even though they will be at a level noted by Hall as ‘Humans aren’t meant to function at the cruising altitude of a 747’
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Having reached the summit and literally touched the peak — their moment of triumph – though problematic as issues with roping and lateness of the afternoon make the timetable of descent turn into a dire situation. A storm sweeps in before certain climbers have turned back. What follows is a brutal waiting game. Among those stranded in the inhospitable climate is Hansen, Harris & Hall – who finds himself curled up in a nook, patiently, almost inhumanly biding his time as numerous attempts to save him come and pass him by due to more storms.
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Having years ago read Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” I hadn’t realized this was going to be that story told so vividly so I recommend you go in with little knowledge of the body count as Everest plays a bit in the vein of Apollo 13, as you know the story history wise – but in this one there’s only a slim chance the ones in trouble will make it.

The film truly focuses on the brutality of this type of climbing and what we now know was the beginnings of what the business end of this all is. All these climbs-for-hire have literally created a trash bin of Everest as what goes up, doesn’t always come down. And of course the body count of those left up on the mountain has also increased exponentially since this first tragic event. And let’s not ever forget all the sherpas with whom without them, most of these climbs could never be done.
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So what’s good about this movie? The 3-D is very good. Throughout most of the film you can’t discern between what is the real on-location shots and what is sound-staged. Brolin & Clarke really have the lead acting roles here and both do well. Sam Worthington also comes on well more towards the end as Guy Cotter. Overall it will prove to be a rough watch with it’s ending for some, but it’s a good film nonetheless.

Grade: C+
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Tuesday, September 15, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, September 18, 2015