Mamma Mia! Blu-ray Review
With 'Mamma Mia - The Movie' on Blu-ray we are presented with a clean 1080p AVC/Mpeg-4 transfer framed at widescreen 2.40:1 with deep blacks and warm, saturated colour as befits the style of the movie. As one would expect from a very recent movie, the source material should be excellent, so there was no evidence of dirt, dust or print damage. Nice clean edges, even against bright backdrops, with no 'ringing' make this a pleasure to watch. There's fine grain to be seen in some of the late afternoon shots, where the light has turned yellow, but it's not intrusive.
The much mentioned Digital Noise Reduction is not in evidence here, however it's probably not the most three dimensional image ever produced. Some of the beach shots are a bit contrasty, but you'd expect this from a movie trying to emulate the effect of the direct sunlight.
The wedding sequence in the hilltop church has many skin tones with an orangey hue, which in context look absolutely fine, and enough shadow detail to be realistic.
Every promotional clip that I'd seen of this movie on TV had an oversaturated, almost brownish, 'Agfa' feel about it - which looked quite unpleasant. The colours from the Blu-ray were nicely balanced and skin tones looked accurate considering the location of the movie.
There are no real complaints at all about the picture quality and so it easily rates an 8 out of 10.
With 'Mamma Mia - The Movie' we have a DTS -HD Master Audio 5.1 channel mix that is very much front weighted, with the rears only kicking in noticeably now and again during some of the musical numbers like 'Take a chance on me' where the instrumentation appears to fly overhead - making the effect 'special'. As all the singing is going on in front of the audience, it makes perfect sense that this is where most of the audio action should be focussed. Anything else would simply be distracting. The width of the soundstage opens out at particular moments such as with the group harmony in 'I do, I do, I do' in the church - where it's possible to place most of the voices individually in space thanks to good separation. It also made a pleasant change to watch a movie without bullets pinging off the walls and the sound of spent casings tinkling to the ground.
The level of bass was enough to set the toes tapping to the tunes without being uncomfortable. The instrumentation was faithfully reproduced and vocals were clear and crisp, without sounding detached from the music. Occasionally the music levels were wound a bit high compared to vocals, but I felt this might have been deliberate to hide some 'deficiencies' - especially when Pierce Brosnan was singing (sorry Pierce)
I'd rate the Audio at 8 out of 10.
I'm not a great lover of Extras as, for me, it's the movie that matters.
I couldn't find a 'singalong' version of the movie on the Blu-ray (that exists on the SD edition of Mamma Mia). If you were absolutely desperate you could turn on the English subtitles and join in.
However the following extras are included:
- Audio Commentary
Director Phyllida Lloyd provides an insight into her decision-making in many key areas, including the requirement to shoot much of the movie on soundstages rather than on location , along with the casting, the necessary voice rehearsals, and what it was like working with ABBA originals Bjorn and Benny. Audio commentaries are really for the hard core movie buffs and never seem to excite me greatly - as they're never polished performances - but this one is interesting.
- Featurette: "The Making of Mamma Mia!" (HD, 25 minutes)
A cheerful little doco, this focuses on the cast voice and choreography rehearsals. Particularly funny is seeing the three male leads slip into their spangled, spandex costumes for the 'Waterloo' number. It also features some interesting production footage of the extensive blue screen sets at Pinewood.
- Featurette: "Becoming a Singer" (HD, 11 minutes)
Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson brought back most of the original ABBA session musicians to record the tunes, and with the help of music supervisor Martin Lowe, guide the stars through singing some pretty tricky songs. It was good to see the effort and worry that the stars put into their preparation - showing them up as very human.
- Featurette: "Anatomy of a Musical Number" (HD, 6 minutes)
This short film analyses the "Lay All Your Love on Me" number between Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper, the latter being extremely nervous performing the song for the ABBA songwriters. Again, more human interest.
- Featurette: "A Look Inside Mamma Mia!" (HD, 3 minutes)
This really could have afforded to be longer as it takes a look at the ABBA phenomenon, and the origins of the "Mamma Mia!" musical. Maybe they wanted to leave us wanting more.
- Deleted Scenes (HD/SD mix, 8 minutes)
There are several cut scenes here, including a longer introduction for the male leads, a love scene between Sophie and her fiancée, and faintly amusing shenanigans with Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters. Further excerpts include a short series of Outtakes, plus a cut musical number, "The Name of the Game." performed by Amanda Seyfried.
- Music Video: "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" (HD, 5 minutes)
A funny and clever take-off of the original ABBA "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!" music video.
'Mamma Mia' sports a nice, clean ( a little warm, but natural) 1080p transfer of a recent movie with very good HD sound. The Extras provide a welcome insight into the production of the movie and will be relished by movie buffs, the world over.
The Blu-ray of 'Mamma Mia' allows us to enjoy a recent movie with Cinema quality picture & sound in a comfortable environment without the distraction of someone rustling popcorn throughout the picture.
Overall, I'd give it 8 out of 10.
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- Audio Commentary