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 – “THE NOVEMBER MAN” (2014)

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Let me just preface this whole review by from the beginning.. I love Pierce Brosnan..yep..there I said.  I don’t give a shit what people say..I loved him as James Bond, clearly a role he was meant to play.. And in so many more movies like ‘Evelyn’, ‘The Tailor of Panama’, ‘The Matador’ just to list a few.  So you can clearly imagine how much I was looking forward to this movie ESPECIALLY after seeing him play the James Bond video game on Jimmy Fallon last week & seeing him pitch it.. My hope of all hope was to just see Brosnan back in some sort of spy, actiony-type thriller delivering the one-liners as only he could, with a dose of good action.

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So a quick brief over of the plot – “Peter Devereaux” (Pierce Brosnan), a now-retired CIA agent is brought back into service by one of his closest friends “Hanley” (Bill Smitrovich) to help out with one last mission helping to protect someone they both know “Natalia Ulanova” (Mediha Musliovic) who happens to be Devereaux’s old flame and claims to have a information & a name that once given to them, will turn the pending Russian election for President upside down.  Turns out, much to his surprise, he is going up against his old, younger protege’ “David Mason” (Luke Bracey) whom he considered a ‘drop’ after a mission gone very bad involving the death of innocent bystanders including a child.  They are both looking for “Alice Fournier” (Olga Kurylenko) who unbeknownst to us is really a refugee named Mira from the Chechen War who has enough information to take down the man who is in line to be the next President (aka Dictator) of Russia “Arkady Federov” (Lazar Ristovski).  In between all this is a Russian hitwoman “Alexa” (Amila Terzimehic) who as far as I could tell, is trying to basically kill everyone.

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As with many others at this screening, I wanted to love this movie..I wanted it to be a great action flick with Pierce Brosnan just giving it all his witty, charming debonairness that he has.. sadly, this is not the return to super spy-ness I had hoped for. It’s more like a mediocre spin at a storyline we’ve seen way to many times done way better say 10 years ago with the Bourne series or Mission Impossible. It all seemed very dated with plot holes GALORE.  Brosnan tries, and sometimes succeeds in making the best of this character with maybe a bit of a meaner edge that say James Bond would never be allowed to have  While it has a few good moments when Devereaux is outwitting his protege’ Mason ~ for the most part it’s dull, uneven and lackluster…oh and did I mention the plot holes.. At one point, Devereaux threatens to harm Mason’s next door neighbor “Sarah” (Eliza Taylor) whom he has of course, just slept with..by cutting one of her arteries & making him choose to save her or go after him.. yet we never know what happens to her.  The ending is one you can see coming at you a mile away and just as sappy as you know it’s going to be once you see, again a mile away, whom has backstabbed who.

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I wish Brosnan’s performance here was something to write home about, and it’s okay..but not enough to make the movie pop.  Luke Bracey is no where near suave enough to up against Brosnan as a spy and does his best just to keep up here. He doesn’t carry himself of have the oompha Brosnan has, which let’s face it, is what makes him so like-able in most of his roles.  Adding even more James Bond-ness wanna be to this movie is well.. a former Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko who while she has some decent chemistry with Brosnan, you feel as though she might be suited a bit better to Bracey’s character considering you realize Brosnan’s character has a 12 yr old daughter whom she doesn’t look much older than.  But while she has a few interesting moments she really just doesn’t cut it here as in one scene especially you just want to scream out “REALLY” as while being hunted by literally EVERYONE and they all want to kill her, she stops at the public airport internet service to write up her newspaper story like it’s all the norm.  Now I know that’s the writing also, but at least try to make it seem believable..that’s what acting is after all.

Last request.. remember when Sean Connery came back for one last Bond after he’d been retired all those year..yeah..THAT is all I’m asking for.. give Pierce a chance!! #neversayneveragainpartdeux

Grade: C-  (below average)

#peggyatthemovies

Grading scale:  A = exceptional ~ Oscar worthy  B = above average – must see  C = Average  D = don’t see  F: just don’t  (+ or – gives it an edge up or down)