Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is more of a Super Trooper then SOS as we get to know Lily James as the young Donna during her wild summer of love.

The main question on everyone’s mind when Mamma Mia! Here we go againwas announced in 2017 was whether anything could live up to the energetic original. The sequel hits our screens ten years after the first film, and despite the motivation that money, money, money clearly played in bringing back our lovable characters for another blockbuster, the result is a hilariously entertaining extravaganza that will have you embracing the summer (and wishing you were on holiday in the Greek islands).

The Mamma Mia!series hinges around the catchy, well-known music of ABBA to generate its appeal, and the fundamental issue with a second feature is that many of those sing-aloud hits already appear in the first film. Would it be possible to make another movie that resonates with the same energy without becoming repetitive or second rate? A challenge that must have been difficult to overcome, but director and writer Ol Parker, and acclaimed co-writers Catherine Johnson and Richard Curtis definitely had a dream to create a production that could rival its predecessor.

Many of the slower tempo and more obscure songs do not pack quite the same punch as the previously featured karaoke classics. However, there are a few reprises of the showstoppers, and coupled with added hits such as Waterloo (which only made an appearance in the credits of Mamma Mia!) and When I Kissed The Teacher which are delivered in full-cast ensembles, the spectacle and dynamism of the musical is maintained.

The plot of the original Mamma Mia!was never the reason for its quintessential charm, and Here we go again is similarly tenuous. Set after the original film, we find Sophie Sheridan (played by the angelic Amanda Seyfried) five years after the events of the first movie, taking up the reigns of her mother’s hotel on the sunny Greek island of Kalokairi. In a series of flashbacks, we discover how her mother Donna (played by the wonderful Meryl Streep, with Lily James taking on the challenge of portraying Donna’s younger self) found her way to the island. On a quest for independence and adventure, she meets the three men who underpin the ‘who’s the father’ storyline from the previous movie.

Don’t go wasting your emotion on the thin plotline, as what makes this movie is the absolutely stellar cast involved in the elaborate production. The return of many of our favourites from the first film will have viewers singing along in their seats, plus the addition of new talent makes the whole viewing experience completely enjoyable and packed full of fun and frivolity.

Although speculation has been rife over the lack of appearance of Streep in the film’s promotional campaign (sorry no spoilers here!) James does a reasonable job of living up to her Super Trooper successor. She manages to channel much of Streep’s sparky charisma and gives impressively strong vocal performances while representing Donna’s younger carefree, promiscuous self with compassion and endearing vulnerability.

The true stars of the show, which will come as no surprise for anyone who has seen the original, are Julie Walters and Christine Baranski who play Donna’s enigmatic best friends/former bandmates/sidekicks. Due to the flashback nature of the film, they are not given as much screen time as I would have liked, but they do a side-splitting rendition of Angel Eyes and bring understated humour paired with memorable one-liners to the narrative. Accolades go to Baranski who delivers some of the best lines of the whole film with an amazing deadpan poker face.

Mamma Mia!was a box office hit that smashed expectations with its feel good storyline and quality cast. It is hard to imagine that anything can live up to its success and public adoration, nonetheless its sequel definitely gives the original a run for its money. In the iconic words of ABBA, the winner takes it all and the producers are winning in this instance. They’ve produced a summer spectacle that will leave you laughing, crying and wanting to see it again. It’s worth your time simply to see Cher and Andy Garcia tackle the iconic Fernando, and despite the elephant in the room (Pierce Brosnan’s singing, mainly deftly avoided in this sequel), if you take a chance on this film, it will delight you purely on its entertainment value.

★★★★☆

Mamma Mia! is out now.