Mamma Mia, Here we go Again, A Review

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR MAMMA MIA, HERE WE GO AGAIN

After a 10 year wait the sequel to the hit 2008 film is finally here! The second installment of this ABBA musical features follows Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) as she attemps to rebuild the hotel after her mother Donna’s (Meryl Streep) death a year prior to the film’s events. The film also flashbacks to 1979 to follow a young Donna (Lily James) as she leaves university to travel the world and find herself- meeting the three potential fathers to Sophie along the way. With the younger versions portrayed by Hugh Skinner (Harry), Josh Dylan (Bill) and Jeremy Irvine (Sam) respectively).

The events of both timelines parallel eachother as both young Donna and Sophie attempt to rebuild the hotel with the help of friends Tanya (Christine Baranski/Jessica Keenan Wynn) and Rosie (Julie Walters/Alexa Davies). Both women are also both pregnant in the exact same hotel- Sophie to her husband Sky (Dominic Cooper) and Donna to one of three fathers. As both mother and daughter struggle to rebuild the hotel, raise their new child and fall in love three times they sing their way through life and create a massively entertaining story that fans of ABBA and the original film will fall in love with. With the film featuring both old and new ABBA songs audiences will love every moment, with no song feeling out of place and every song evoking pure ABBA magic.

The majority of this film does take place in the past timeline and whilst the original film characters will always be loved, the younger counterparts do an amazing job at retelling the story. Each of the younger cast do an amazing job at capturing their future selves (especially Donna, Tanya and Rosie), perfectly capturing the humour and mannerisms of each character. James portays younger Donna with an infectous happiness and laughter who you can’t help but just love as she travels through Greece, along with younger Tanya and Rosie who are as hilarious as ever.

Since the film does take place mainly from younger Donna’s point of view, audiences don’t get to see much of the original characters- only seeing short scenes of Sophie, Tanya, Rosie and Sam (Pierce Brosnan) attempting to rebuild the hotel. Characters such as Harry (Colin Firth) and Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) only make minimal appearances towards the end of the film for the final act- where Cher makes a suprise appearance as Donna’s mother Ruby. Despite despite also being front and centre on most of the film’s advertising Meryl Streep as Donna only make a very short cameo appearance at the very end of the film as is only metioned up until this point- something I was slightly dissapointed with. Whilst I would of liked some of the original cast to have larger roles I feel that the younger counterparts are a fun substitue and still make the film fun and definately worth watching.

In short, Mamma Mia! Here we go Again was an amazing sequel, and despite some limited original cast appearances I would still recommend to any fans of the original in order to recapture the ABBA magic they felt watching the first time around.

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The Bold Type- Season 2, A Review

I was highly anticipating the second season of the Bold Type because of just how much of an impact the first season had had its audiences. The first season was highly praised for both the realistic friendship between the main 3 girls as well as the difficult issues the show wasn’t afraid to shy away from. Season 2 of the Bold Type continues to follow our three leads Jane (Katie Stevens), Kat (Aisha Dee) and Sutton (Meghann Fahy) as they navigate their way through the world of Scarlett- the magezine they all work at.

The best thing about the Bold Type was how it continued to tackle these difficult issues that most other shows are afraid to talk about. Season 2 storylines include diversity problems in the workplace and how it effects looking for a job, the morality of owning a gun, the aftermath of sexual assualt, open relationships and struggling with your identity. Each episode showcased the girls tackling these issues like real people- they argued, they disagreed and each had their own opinions, opinions which were all so compelling that it was often difficult to decide whose side was the right one and who you actually agreed with.

In season 2 Jane starts off having left Scarlett for a job at another paper, however she is swiftly fired after a mishap with one of her stories. Jane attempts to return to Scarlett but previous boss Jacqueline (Melora Hardin) insists that Jane needs to live in her failure. Jane now struggles to get a job back due to the aftermath from her pevious job. Deciding to work freelance, Jane attemps to find her voice again in what she she writes. She also gains new love interest Dr. Ben (Luca James Lee) despite still talking to “Pinstripe” (Dan Jeannotte). As well as finding her voice, Jane also struggles with the development of her BRCA gene mutation and how she needs to make a quick decision about her future and whether or not she wants kids. Most of Season 2 has been about Jane finding herself and deciding what she wants in her life- out of the three girls Jane probably knows what she wants the least from her life and whilst she has a lot of opinions (often controversial, especially in this season) Jane still has a lot to learn. Whilst Jane isn’t my personal favourite character I can relate to her on a level- writing is a process and it has a lot of finding yourself involved.

Sutton’s storyline is season 2 initially starts with the dilema of whether to choose her relationship with Richard (Sam Page) or her job- as people have started suggesting she is using Richard to get ahead- another example of a difficult storyline in the Bold Type- slut shaming in the workplace. Sutton chooses her job and throws herself into her work- moving up the fashion ladder and impressing boss Oliver (Stephen Conrad Moore). However in an attempt to move up in the fashion worlx Sutton becomes too involved in her job- making friends and relying on the wrong people in an attempt to make contacts. Sutton eventually learns that she is already brilliant at her job and doesn’t have to constantly work at it to impress Oliver. All Sutton’s work does eventually pay off but she ends up having to face her alcoholic mother and confront her childhood- a hilight of Sutton’s journey this season. Similar to Jane, Sutton has to find herself and find a balance between her work and social life. Sutton particularly shines in episode 2×07 where she and Jane argue on the subject of owning a gun- we find out more about her homelife and how she uses her gun to cope- one of the most interesting episodes of the season because of just how divisive it was.

Kat’s storyline this season focuses mainly on her relationship with Adena (Nikohl Boosheri) and how it effects both of their lives. Kat is very new to a LGBT relationship and she has a lot to learn, initially Kat is eager to show Adena off despite Adena’s reluctance to be a “social-media couple”. Kat also struggles with the fact Adena is the only girls she’s ever been with and wants to explore her sexuality more, leading to an open relationship– something which I’ve never actually seen portayed on TV before. Kat also struggles with her identity- particularly in episode 2×02 where she is unsure whether to include the fact she is black in her online bio. Out of the three girls Kat is definately the most spontaneous- often making decisions without really thinking- often leading to more problems for her in the future. Pointed out by many other characters Kat is very privelledged because of her rich parents and sometimes needs to really think about how and who her decisions affect.

Jacqueline herself also struggles with new board member Cleo (Siobhan Murphy) who seems to disagree with nearly every one of Jacqueline’s decisions- causing major problems at the magezine. Jacqueline also rediscovers her own writing voice when Cleo demands one of her articles be pulled- A scene between Jacqueline and Sutton about why she doesn’t write any more being one of my favourite of the season.

The Bold Type season 2 continues to wow audiences with the realistic and fantastic friendship between the girls as well as the issues the characters face. I cannot wait to see what other problems these girls overcome in the future and how they’re relationships and careers progress.

Life of the Party, A Review

After being a spy, ghostbuster and bridesmaid Melissa McCarthy is now taking on a role just as scary- a college student.

Life of the Party follows McCarthy as Deanna, a full-time housewife whose own daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) has just started another year at Deanna’s old college. After dropping off Maddie, Deanna is all ready for a vacation with husband Dan (Matt Walsh), only for him to announce that he wants a divorce, and is in fact in love with real estate agent Marcie (Julie Bowen).

Deanna is devastated and finds herself not knowing what to do with her life, in a moment of madness she decides to return to college to finish her Archaeology degree- much to the horror of daughter Maddie.

However Deanna soon begins to fit into college life- bonding with her daughter’s friends- Helen (Gillian Jacobs), Amanda (Adria Arjona) and Debbie (Jessie Ennis) and becoming something of a mother figure to them all. As well as her new friends Deanna (Now known as Dee- Rock) begins to gain the full college exprience- having to deal with weird roommate Leonor (Heidi Gardner), school bully Jennifer (Debby Ryan) and the sexual advances of Jack (Luke Benward).

I did enjoy Life of the Party, but I felt that it didn’t have the same feel as many of McCarthy’s other major films such as Bridesmaids, The Boss or Spy. The film wasn’t necessarily laugh out loud funny, and infact felt like more of a movie about finding yourself rather than a full out comedy. Nevertheless the film was extremelly enjoyable, but I found myself enjoying the character’s journeys and relationships with eachother rather than the actual jokes in the film. The bond between Deanna and her fellow college friends of between Deanna and best friend Christine (Maya Rudolph) were the aspects that really made the film and it was a nice change to see McCarthy do something like this.

Life of the Party was a great watch but not for its jokes but infact the characters within the film. I would recommend to any McCarthy fans but warn them not to expect her usual physical comedy humour throughout- the film of course was still hilarious but it certiay had a hidden heart that I hope audiences will appreciate.

Reign, A Review

After finishing the seventh season of Once Upon a Time I was so impressed with Adelaide Kane’s performance as Ivy/Drizella I was eager to watch Reign, where she plays a lead role. Initially I was unsure about how much I would like Reign because historical fiction isn’t normally a genre I watch or read, but I was pleasantly suprised by how much I came to enjoy it.

Reign follows the life of Mary Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane) who has been Queen of Scotland since she were a mere 6 days old. For the last few years Mary has been living in a convent for her own protection, but after a poisoning attempt she is sent to France where she is to marry the future king Francis (Toby Regbo) to gain a French-Scottish alliance.

Now Mary, along with her ladies-in-waiting Greer (Celina Sinden), Lola (Anna Popplewell), Kenna (Caitlin Stasey) and Aylee (Jenessa Grant) must navigate through their new lives as Mary attemps to secure her crown in both France and England whilst Mary’s ladies all encounter their own problems. All the while several obstacles stand in front of Mary’s arranged marriage to Francis such as Francis’ scheming mother Catherine de’ Medici (Megan Follows) who is determined to stop the impending marriage because of a prophecy from court seer Nostradamus (Rossif Sutherland) who predicts that Mary will bring about Francis’ death. Also standing in the way is Francis’ older bastard brother Bash (Torrance Coombs) who Mary finds herself drawn to.

As well at trying to secure the marriage alliance with France, Mary must also secure her place on England’s throne- which both she and Queen Elizabeth (Rachel Skarsten) fight for towards the end of the series. Both she and Elizabeth have a right to the throne but with Mary married she has more chance of producing an heir, leaving Elizabeth (much to her reluctance) scrambling to find a husband. As the two Queens battle for their throne and the war between catholics and protestants heats up both in the villages and in the Royal Court, Mary’s reign is in constant danger and every episode shows just how dangerous being a Queen really is.

Whilst Reign was not completely historically acuurate, Bash for example among other characters were created purely for the series and were not real people, it was still a great watch. Each episode showcased the difficult lives of all characters in court whatever their royalty or status. Mary struggles to hold onto her right to the English crown as well as her lingering feelings for Bash whilst Catherine and Nostradamus plot new ways to be rid of Mary each episode. Mary’s ladies also have their own personal dramas such as Greer falling in love with kitchen boy Leith (Jonathan Keltz) and Kenna becoming mistress to King Henry (Alan van Sprang). The late arrival of Catherine’s daughter Claude (Rose Williams) also shakes things up at court.

Reign was very intriuging to watch for both its drama and its historic storyline. Fans of history will each watching Mary’s reign play out, however with affairs and murder attempts common place in each episode, Reign is never boring as there’s always something going down at Royal Court.

Hotel Transylvania 3- Summer Vacation, A Review

The third instalment in the Hotel Transylvania franchise follows Drac (Adam Sandler) and his friends and family as they embark on a monster vacation. After planning yet another wedding at the hotel Drac realises he wants to start dating again after the death of his wife Martha prior to the first film. In a misunderstanding Mavis (Selena Gomez) thinks that Drac is overworked so decideds to book the whole family on a cruise holiday designed exclusively for monsters.

Whilst on the cruise Drac begins to fall for Erica (Kathryn Hahn), the human captain of the cruise even though he initially thought “a zing only happens once in your life”. He enlists the help of his friends Frank the Frankenstein (Kevin James), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade) and Murray the Mummy (Keegan Michael-Key) to help him gain a date with Captain Erica, much to the horror of daughter Mavis.

Drac and his friends are however unaware that Captain Erica is infact the great-grandaughter of the legendary Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) and the whole cruise is a ruse with the intention of eliminating all monsters completely. With Drac completely love struck with Erica he is completely unaware of the dangers that await at the end of the cruise- leaving him and his family in mortal (or immortal) danger.

Hotel Transylvania 3 was a fun watch and I enjoyed the expansion of the monster world to outside of the hotel, and monster gimmicks such as a gremlin airline, fish staff and a cruise in the bermuda triangle were all fun additions to the film. As always it was fun to see Hotel Transylvania’s comedic twist on the dracula genre, especially the inclusion of iconic literary figure Van Helsing. The characters have grown across the franchise and now Drac, Mavis , Johnny (Andy Samberg) and son Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) are now one big monster family who are still enjoyable to watch on the screen, bringing laughs and love as they go about their monster lives.

Schitt’s Creek, A Review

Schitt’s Creek was another TV show that has been on my watch list for a while- now 4 seasons in and renewed for a fifth I am so glad I gave it a go. Not only is it a hilarious comedy but the show has a hidden heart to it that makes it all the more enjoyable.

Schitt’s Creek follows the Rose family- Father Johnny (Eugene Levy), mother Moira (Catherine O’Hara) and siblings David (Dan Levy) and Alexis (Annie Murphy)– who are forced to move to small town Schitt’s Creek after they lose their family fortune. The family must now live in a run down motel, ran by the sarcastic Stevie (Emily Hampshire), and learn to live among the locals- including Schitt’s Creek mayor Roland (Chris Elliot) and his wife Jocelyn (Jennifer Robertson)– who both try their hardest to befriend the Roses’ (much to the horror of the family).

Each episode ensures hilarity as the once rich Rose family now much deal with small town life and realise how unconnected they are to the real world and real life. Such episodes included the Roses learning to cook for the first time in their lives or ride a bike as well as realising they will actually need to get jobs in order to stay afloat.

As the series progresses the Rose family eventually adapt to Schitt’s Creek and even begin to fall for the town and its bizzare locals- each member of the family gaining from the town something they never had before, as well as growing closer as a family. Both Johnny and Moira find new jobs as motel staff and town council respectively, whilst David and Alexis begin to make actual friends with David finding his first best friend in Stevie and Alexis falling in love with local vet Ted (Dustin Milligan). The two also start to improve their once spolied lives with David setting up a town shop and Alexis actually finishing high school and starting to build a career for herself.

From the outside Schitt’s Creek may look like a stereotypical rags to riches comedy but it’s so much more and it has been so fun to watch. Each episode shows the Roses’ journey to become better people as both they and audiences will begin to fall for the town of Schitt’s Creek.

The Death of Mrs Westaway, A Review

As a massive fan of Ruth Ware (Click the link to read my review of Ware’s other book The Woman in Cabin 10 https://georgeapp137.wordpress.com/2018/04/23/the-woman-in-canin-10-a-review/ ) I was so excited to read her newest thriller- and it did not dissappoint! This page-turning newest addition to Ware’s collection may be her best so far and I strongly recommend to fans of Ware or any thriller/mystery fans.

The Death of Mrs Westaway follows Harriet “Hal” Westaway, a tarot card reader who is having serious money problems- having borrowed from loan sharks who are threatening her to pay back with interest. Hal is all set to completely dissapear and start anew when she recieves a mysterious letter. The letter tells of her grandmother Hester Westaway who has recently died and left Hal in her will, this seems like the perfect solution to Hal’s growing money problems- the only problem being Hal’s grandparents died 20 years ago!

Having made a career out of decieving people Hal is convinced she’ll be able to attend the funeral, gain her inheritence and make a run for it- all without revealing she actually has no relation to the mysterious Mrs Westaway. But when Hal meets her new “family” she gets further sucked into the lie and soon discovers all is not as it seems. Hal discovers she has family secrets that run deeper than she ever thought and with her staying in a room that locks from the outside and has “HELP ME” etched onto the barred windows will Hal even make it out alive?

The Death of Mrs Westaway is probably my favourite Ruth Ware thriller so far as it has a very interesting and complex mystery that kept me reading and reading (I actually read the book all in one setting). Similar to Ware’s other books, The Death of Mrs Westaway switches between narratives- alternating between the present events of the story and diary entries from 20 years prior which gives readers a deeper context to the story. Ware’s writing style, particularly in this book genuinely creeped me out as Hal begins to fear for her own safety and eventually discover that it was no mistake that she recieved the letter in the first place.