Belfast Telegraph

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: Nostalgic sequel hits the right notes

 

By Damon Smith

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again doesn't quite achieve the same intoxicating sense of nostalgia-drenched delirium. This bittersweet return to the sun-kissed Kalokairi comes off second best to the razzle dazzle of Hugh Jackman and his kaleidoscopic circus of melodic misfits.

However, when all is said and done, Parker's film is hard-wired to entertain with a comforting recipe of glossy song and dance numbers, saucy humour, simmering romance and Oscar winner Meryl Streep ripping the hearts out of chests as she mines the raw emotion of Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus's lyrics.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again relies on the Swedish pop group's lesser known album tracks to reflect characters' whirling emotions, interspersed with euphoric reprises of Dancing Queen, Super Trouper and the title track.

The addition of Cher as Streep's impeccably coiffed mother is a masterstroke.

Parker's film cranks up the volume on our pleasure to 11 and blows the roof off the taverna with her rapturous interpretation of Fernando with fellow newcomer Andy Garcia.

These final 15-20 minutes, when the full cast is reunited on the island idyll, are on the money, money, money.

This sequel lays all of its ABBA love on us with platform heels, tongue-in-cheek humour and joy-infused musical performances choreographed to perfection by Anthony Van Laast.

Fragmented chronology hampers dramatic momentum but audiences who loved the first film won't care.

They will be gleefully chanting I do, I do, I do, I do, I do to Parker's sequel.

Four stars

Hotel Artemis: Dystopian film either an art or miss

Style confidently trumps substance in Drew Pearce's intriguing dystopian thriller about a secret membership-only hospital for the criminal fraternity.

The writer-director is aided by a mesmerising lead performance from Jodie Foster as the agoraphobic clinician in charge of the hospital, who self-medicates to numb the pain of her devastating loss. The Oscar-winning actress captures the desolation of a broken woman who is at the beck and call of her members, but seldom permits herself to forge lasting connections.

When one of the other characters eventually breaks down her defences, rage and grief pour out of her like molten lava, threatening to burn her home to the ground and everyone inside it.

Outside the clinic it's June 2028 and Los Angeles is a tinderbox of incendiary emotions. A shadowy corporation has turned off the city's water supply, sparking days of riots.

Sherman (Sterling K Brown) and brother Lev (Brian Tyree Henry) orchestrate a bank heist, culminating in a gunfight with armed officers.

Lev takes a potentially fatal bullet and Sherman rushes his sibling to Hotel Artemis, run by The Nurse (Foster) and her hulking assistant, Everest (Dave Bautista).

Hotel Artemis is a blood-smeared bauble, polished to a deceptive lustre by an excellent ensemble cast.

Pearce conjures a vivid alternate reality in which bad men and women use their ill-gotten gains to repeatedly cheat death.

Foster's searing performance is complemented by a tender brotherly bond between Brown and Henry. The promised prescription of thrills and spills delivers only a fleeting high.

Three stars

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