Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Year: 2018
Directed by: Oli Parker
Starring: Lily James, Amada Seyfried, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Colin
Firth, Julie Walters, Andy Garcia, Cher

WRITTEN BY MEGAN WILLIAMS

This is going to be a weird way to start off this review, but I have a confession to make: I’m not really an ABBA fan. I enjoy a couple of their songs but they wouldn’t be my first or even third choice of music to listen to, but despite this, still really enjoyed the film adaptation of ‘Mamma Mia!’ in 2008. Now, ten years later, Hollywood has decided we clearly needed a sequel/prequel. I call it that because of the way the plot is constructed: ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again’ is set in the present day as well as the 1970’s as we are reunited with Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) as she reopens her mother’s hotel in Greece. The other plot revolves around a young Donna (Sophie’s mother, this time played by Lily James) as she graduates from University in 1979 and travels to Greece where she meets three men (one of which is Sophie’s father) and gives birth to Sophie.

For something that is a blatant cash-grab, I had fun with this charming film. The plot and songs worked well together (for the most part), and the blending of songs (most of which I didn’t know) within each scene fitted in seamlessly. Most of the cast were fantastic too although the standouts, once again, were Donna’s two best friends (played by Julie Walters and Christine Baranski in the present plot, and Alexa Davies and Jessica Keenan Wynn in the 1970’s plot). Amanda Seyfried and Lily James were fantastic and their singing voices are beautiful; they should both be featured in more musicals, and I look forward to seeing them in more films. However, this is where the positives end, unfortunately.

Nearly all of the cast were given singing parts, which is to be expected in a musical, but some of these actors should not have been granted this opportunity: Pierce Brosnan is back once again with his tone-deaf and flat voice (although it’s not for long thank goodness) but he does a passable job, acting-wise, returning as one of Sophie’s potential fathers. Dominic Cooper, who plays Sophie’s boyfriend Sky, is also not that great singing and even acting-wise. While he’s not flat, his singing and acting is very monotone and emotionless; it made me wonder whether he had signed a contract ten years ago saying he had to be in the sequel and he had had second thoughts before the filming of this one. On a final note, Hugh Skinner (who plays the young version of Colin Firth’s character) also can’t sing to save his life, and the sequence where him and Lily James perform ‘Waterloo’ is the probably the cringiest movie scene I’ve ever watched; I had my head in my hands throughout its entirety.

Overall, ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!’ was a fun, charming but blatant cash-grab that, for the most part, works really well and although a couple of the cast members shouldn’t have been given singing parts, this gets overshadowed by the rest of the cast. If you’ve seen every other film that’s out at the moment but still want another trip to the cinema, I’d say check this one out.

MEGAN’S RATING:

3

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The Foreigner

Year: 2017
Directed by: Martin Campbell 
Starring: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Michael McElhatton, Orla Brady.

WRITTEN BY CHRIS GELDERD

This 2017 action thriller, based on the 1992 novel ‘The Chinaman’ by Stephen Leather, is directed by Martin Campbell and stars Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Michael McElhatton, Liu Tao, Charlie Murphy and Orla Brady.

When Ngoc Minh Quan (Chan) loses his daughter in a terrorist attack in London, carried out by a group calling themselves the ‘Authentic IRA’, his world crumbles and he has nothing to live for except finding those responsible.

Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Liam Hennessy (Brosnan), a former IRA operative, condemns the bombing but has little knowledge of who is behind it. Quan makes Hennessy his target in extracting the information he knows is being kept from him.

Taking matters into his own hands, Quan begins to take Hennesy’s world apart by targeting his loved ones and his confidents in a dangerous game of cat and mouse, applying pressure to get to the source of the bombing. But the terrorist group is ready to hit their next target, and time is running out to stop them…

Take the world’s most ambitious and loved action star, add in the 5th James Bond actor and direct them by the man responsible for ‘GoldenEye’ and ‘Casino Royale’. Sound like a hoot? Well it is, but not for the reasons it could have been about 20 years ago.

2nd

Director Martin Campbell, who knows how to direct well-paced and grounded action films, brings 63-year old Jackie Chan and 64-year old Pierce Brosnan together for a slow burning, gritty and tense political game of cat-and-mouse that proves two things: Jackie Chan can act far beyond breaking bones and falling off roof-tops, and Pierce Brosnan can act far beyond wearing a tuxedo and dancing on Greek islands.

There is thankfully little action in this film, and when there is, it’s contained and minimal and real. Yes, Chan does his thing by disarming knife and gun toting bad guys but he does it in a way you’d believe a former Vietnam special ops forces soldier would do. He is a father who has lost everything and isn’t afraid to kill or be killed in hunting down those responsible. And the best thing is there is no catering to Chan’s former audience wanting physical comedy as well as outrageous action. There is no comedy in this film, and Chan doesn’t gurn or prat-fall along the way; he hurts, he investigates and he takes revenge and he does it in a very calculating, cold and rather powerful way. This man can act.

Chan goes up against a few token Irish hitmen along the way (not all your typical “Irish terrorists” thanks to a complex and compelling story) but his main target is Brosnan’s First Minister. With a thinner frame and thinning grey hair and beard, he’s a spectre (see what I did there?) of his former James Bond days. But that was over a decade ago and he’s done with play-acting – now we’ve seen what Brosnan can really offer, and he does it here matching Chan with his cold and calculating and tense performance. Is he a villain? Is he an anti-hero? We can never be sure.

Both men have seen the effects of terror and war, and both have very different motivations and agendas, but both men can’t be right all the time. It’s this brilliant conflict between the two that doesn’t need them to be on screen constantly together, but it’s underlying and it is there in their individual scenes where tension escalates and emotion runs high as two men reach breaking point.

Filmed across London and Belfast, it’s a very simple narrative to follow and richly pictured with crisp Irish countryside and small towns mirrored with bustling London streets and the concrete jungle that is threatened by terror, a plot point all too relevant to audiences nowadays which makes for even stronger viewing.

Yes, this doesn’t break the mould for your usual political thrillers, and you probably suspect how it will end and what outcome will face the main characters, but it’s all about tight direction that nurtures and allows a character driven piece to flourish by two brilliant actors of their generation.

A Chinese martial arts legend up against a smooth, smouldering Irish icon? Sounds crazy on paper but it does nothing but work for this gripping ride.

Chris’ Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

Here We Go Again! First Trailer For ‘Mamma Mia’ Sequel Arrives

“Ten years after ‘Mamma Mia! The Movie’ grossed more than $600 million around the world, you are invited to return to the magical Greek island of Kalokairi in an all-new original musical based on the songs of ABBA.”

Directed By: Ol Parker

Cast: Meryl Streep, Julie Walters, Christine Baranski, Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Dominic Cooper, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Colin Firth, Alexa Davies, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Jeremy Irvine, Josh Dylan, Hugh Skinner

Release Date: July 20th, 2018

 

Jackie Chan Fights For Answers In The First Trailer For ‘The Foreigner’

“The IRA took his family. The police looked the other way. Now he must get revenge.”

The first trailer for Jackie Chan’s latest film arrived this week, and this time he’s going against Pierce Brosnan in order to discover who killed his daughter. Martin Campbell (‘Casino Royale’, ‘Green Lantern’) is in the director’s chair for this action thriller which is set in the UK.

Now, I don’t know about you but I’m much more used to seeing Jackie Chan in a more comedic light (i.e ‘Rush Hour’, ‘Shanghai Knights’), and this film looks like we’re going to see a much more serious side to him. I know I’ll be sat waiting for him to crack to sort of joke and it’s not going to happen, but I’m excited to see Chan in action again,

‘The Foreigner’ hasn’t announced a UK release date yet, but it is scheduled to release in the US 13th October.