Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
The cover for Mamma Mia is beautiful. It shows Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) holding flowers and on her wedding day, with an out of focus glistening Greek ocean behind her, bathing the entire cover in blue. It is different, and a nice change from what could have been a boring shot of the main characters from the film. It is nice and artistic and gives a feel of the movie without hitting you over the head with it. A really nice cover.
The menu is a bit more drab. The menu consists of a mix of a black background and scenes from the movie. It is not as unique or interesting as the cover, and it didn’t really seem to flow with the movie or the cover. It just seemed too generic for my tastes, given the colorful cover and movie.
- UControl (Picture In Picture/Behind The Hits) – For those of you who don’t know, UControl is Universal’s proprietary way of bringing forth details of the movie, on screen, while the movie plays itself. Included on the Mama Mia disc are a picture-in-picture set up, which allows the viewer to get many of the same interviews and extras that are elsewhere on the disc, but shown on-screen as the movie is playing. The Behind the Hits is another UControl feature, which is kind of like the VH1 Pop Up Video, with information about many of the songs and ABBA facts. I thought both were really pretty interesting.
- The Making Of Mamma Mia! The Movie – This is the obligatory making of extra. It clocks in at about 35 minutes, and really does a good job of hitting a lot of high points. It shows the respect that the actors and crew have for Meryl Streep, who basically jumped at the chance to be in the movie, after having fallen in love with the play. It also goes into detail about the fact that the movie was created by the same women who created the play, and how that brought a different sense to the movie. A decent little making of.
- Deleted Musical Number “The Name Of The Game” – Another number that was cut from the movie itself. I can’t imagine trying to choose which ABBA songs to include and which to leave out.
- Anatomy Of A Musical Number “Lay All Your Love On Me” – This was a nice short detailing the “Lay All Your Love on Me” scene from the movie. It takes place on a beach, and this just describes the detail and effort that went into the choreography and shot itself.
- Becoming A Singer – This was a really cool extra that really dove into the process of coaching the actors to sing. This showed how Bjorn Ulvaelus and Benny Anderson, of ABBA, brought the music to the screen, and it focuses on coaching the actors how to bring their music forward.
- A Look Inside Mamma Mia! The Movie – This 3 minute short was a very short look at how ABBA became such a phenomenon, and the process of getting from the songs to a play, to this movie.
- Sing-Along – The sing-along section can be either turned on to display with the songs as the movie itself played, or you can select the song scenes to play outside of the movie. Basically this is karaoke with the movie, which could be fun. It is nicely presented, and can add some value to those who would love to belt out the songs, and don’t know the ABBA lyrics.
- Deleted Scenes – There were about 5 or 6 deleted scenes included, most of which are presented in very low quality video. some are interesting, but others are just strange, and therefore not really missed. They cut a long piece that detailed each of the 3 possible fathers, as they decided to accept the wedding invitations that was just plain too long. Thankfully it was left out of the movie itself.
- Outtakes – The outtakes were very, very short. I actually thought I had hit the remote to end them, as I honestly think there were only about 4 or 5 scenes total.
- Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! Music Video – This is a video from the movie which is kind of fun to watch. At the end of the day, you either can handle all of the ABBA music, or you cannot, and I may have had my fill by the time the extras rolled around.
- Bjorn Ulvaelus Cameo – This is a scene from the movie where Bjorn Ulvaelus features in the movie itself. It is during a scene where a group are singing one of the songs, and it is pretty obvious who he is, with the 70’s beard and hair. He genuinely seemed to have a good time with it.
- Feature Commentary With Director – Director Phyllida Lloyd seems to be a very even-keeled, methodical woman, who doesn’t seem to be rattled by anything. Her commentary is very detailed, and unfortunately, at times, a bit too stale. I thought her passion for the project was evident throughout the commentary, but it was a bit rough to sit through. She does focus on some of her choices for the movie, which is kind of nice.
- Digital Copy – Of course, this is a digital version of the movie, which can be transferred to iTunes or Windows Media Player. I do like the inclusion of these digital copies, but I would also like a version for regular DVD players as well. Then again, I also am the type of person who wants everything on my Christmas list, and doesn’t want to pay extra for anything.
- BD-Live– There are also a few Blu-ray live features included on this disc that are starting to become standard on Blu-ray releases. There is the ability to not only watch the movie at the same time another BD-Live member is, and chat about it, but you can share bookmarked scenes with other from the movie. You also have the ability to record your own commentary, as the movie itself is playing. Interesting ideas to say the least.
The Movie: 6/10
I have decided that Mamma Mia is an acquired taste. It is an amalgamation of good actors, beautiful scenery, and completely infectious ABBA music. The result is a strange mix of acting, somewhat average singing, and a story line that doesn’t really seem to 100% fit the music itself. If you are still reading this, then you are probably not going to have too much of a problem with Mamma Mia.
Set in beautiful Greece, young Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) is getting set to marry her fiance Sky (Dominic Cooper). The marriage is to take place in the Greek isles, near Sophie’s mother’s bed and breakfast. Sophie’s mother Donna (played by Meryl Streep) is an older woman who is single and somewhat of a free spirit. Donna of course invites her closest friends who relish the idea of a party, and reminisce about the good old days when they partied and lived it up in the 1970’s.
Sophie decides that she absolutely must meet her real father before the wedding, and she decides to invite the 3 men who could possibly be her father. Sophie has learned from her mother that her father could be any one of the 3 men, with whom a more crazy Donna had relationships with in the past. Donna has kept the secret of who Sophie’s father is, so Sophie decides that she will invite these 3 in the hopes of surprising her mother, and finding out who is her real dad.
The 3 men are now shown as being very different from their old persona’s, and they end up absolutely surprising Donna, who is overwhelmed by the surprise. The 3 men are played by Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgaard, and Pierce Brosnan.
Of course Mamma Mia is about ABBA music also. The songs are presented in a way to further explain the story plot. While some disbelief is needed for the story and the music to completely mesh, overall they seem to form a decently thought out overall story. It is obvious to me that this is based on the play, as the timing and pace of the movie seems almost to mirror the theater, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It was nice to see a movie made in this manner, with this much thought put into making this work. It was not my favorite movie to watch, but then again I am not a huge fan of musicals or of ABBA songs. I can say that while I did not really “get” Mamma Mia, I can respect the effort, and I can completely see how this unique movie experience may appeal to lots of individuals.
Mamma Mia is a unique mix of theater and song, and it was well done, with likable characters and decent acting (Meryl Streep is amazing to watch, and seeing her in this role makes you appreciate her ability. The singing was pretty good (Amanda Seyfreid was delightful) with a few near misses, but overall great for a movie based on a musical, with big name actors involved. While perhaps not my cup of tea, a solid musical with lots to enjoy.
Audio & Video: 8/10
The video looked almost surreal in some scenes, which I think is planned. The movie is presented in 2.40:1 wide screen, and the colors at times are insane. There is a lot of sound stage stuff that is used here (unfortunately at times you can tell), which is a weird mix with the lavish shots of Greece and the beautiful blue ocean. Overall it seemed a mix of crisp colorful scenery and sometimes dark shots. Once again, Blu-ray just simply looks amazing.
The audio also was pretty decent, but somewhat of a mixed bag. The music sounded great, but I felt that some of the dialogue was mixed strangely. Sometimes it was very crisp, and other times I felt it was a bit muffled. Perhaps it was me, but at times the dialogue was not as clear as the musical parts seemed to be. I feel like I am nitpicking here, as overall the audio was very, very good.
I am going to go ahead and give Mamma Mia a higher value score than I gave the movie itself. I admit that perhaps I am not the target audience, but for those who enjoy ABBA and the Mamma Mia play, this movie will more than satisfy you. The use of the songs and the story are just good enough to appease those who are looking for a fun, sing-along type of movie. Add in the decent extras, and you have a nice little Blu-ray release.
Overall Score 7/10