Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is a polished sequel — perhaps too polished

Mamma Mia! has had a serious facelift. And in more ways than one.

It’s been 10 years since the original movie and it seems that time has been good to Mamma Mia! The sequel — titled Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again — looks, feels and sounds polished. A little too polished, perhaps.

Five years since being reunited with her three fathers, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is pregnant with Sky’s (Dominic Cooper) child and is running her mother Donna’s (Meryl Streep) villa on the Greek island of Kalokairi.

As Sophie prepares for the grand re-opening of Villa Donna, the story delves into the past of a young Donna (Lily James), revealing how she met each of Sophie’s fathers – Sam, Bill, and Harry (Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgard, and Colin Firth).

Young Donna (Lily James) in Mamma Mia! 2 (Universal)

Every wrinkle — from shaky vocals to creased foreheads — has been ironed out in this new production. Mamma Mia! 2 is radiant. There is a hint of the Glee factor about it — pitch perfect vocals, fast-paced camera work, slick choreography. And yet, there is something missing.

For all its faults, Mamma Mia! was a box-office success, grossing $600 million. True, Brosnan wasn’t the only one crying “SOS” when he serenaded Streep. And Firth may not have won many accolades for his dancing. But Mamma Mia! had humour and charm. It was a feel-good, carefree movie. And people loved it.

By contrast, Mamma Mia! 2 feels serious. It’s trying too hard. And if you’re hoping to release your inner “Dancing Queen,” you may be disappointed.

Cher in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Universal)

The soundtrack for the sequel features a lot of ABBA’s lesser-known tracks — “Angeleyes,” “Kisses of Fire,” “I’ve Been Waiting For You” — though some of the bigger hits still make the cut.

The movie is not to be entirely dismissed. There are some compelling performances, not least Cher’s rendition of “Fernando.” And Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) still bring people to tears with their comedic performances and seductive slurs.

The storyline is not too bad either. But perhaps instead of ageing well — or not ageing at all — Mamma Mia! should have aged gracefully and given us more of that flamboyant, frisky fun that seduced us 10 years ago.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is released on Friday.