‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ struggles to measure up to the original, say critics
Chris Pratt returns as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
As a sequel to one of the best movies ever to come out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was always going to be up against sky-high expectations.
Now, after years of waiting, the film’s almost here and the reviews are in. So does Vol. 2 manage to reach the heights of its predecessor? Or does it fall flat in the process?
You’ve already read our take on the movie, but now let’s take a look at what some others are saying.
Variety’s Owen Gleiberman wasn’t as impressed by director James Gunn’s tricks the second time around:
Shot for shot, line and line, it’s an extravagant and witty follow-up, made with the same friendly virtuosic dazzle. Yet this time you can sense just how hard the series’ wizard of a director, James Gunn (now taking off from a script he wrote solo), is working to entertain you.
Similar sentiments were echoed by The Verge’s Bryan Bishop:
Pratt is still engaging — Star-Lord continues to be the ultimate distillation of his movie-star persona, and even while neutered, the character still outshines Pratt’s performances in things like The Magnificent Seven or Jurassic World. It’s just that the movie lacks the combination of heart and spirit that made the original such a wonderful surprise, leaving the audience uninvested and waiting for the next joke to drop.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy wasn’t impressed by the action:
The heavy, elaborate action is both plentiful and rote; in their geometric design and execution, the special effects feel exceedingly computer-generated. Unlike, say, the best space battles in the Star Wars series, the frantic ballistic parrying here often makes the viewer feel as if trapped inside a pinball machine.
And The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw was unmoved by the emotion:
Ego himself introduces some apparently huge Freudian issues to the film, which on paper would seem to take the film’s emotional impact up a notch or two. But they are dealt with insouciantly, even flippantly – far more so than in something like Star Wars or Superman. That’s in keeping of course, with the distinctive comic flavour of this franchise, but the revelations about Quill’s background just zing and ping around with the same pinball-velocity as everything else in the film.
Collider’s Haleigh Foutch was more into it:
The film’s greatest strength is the respect and genuine interest it has for its ensemble. Gunn loves his pack of weirdos, and for the sequel, he dives a bit deeper into the mess of emotional and psychological scars define them, carefully making space for each character to grow over the course of a very crowded film.
Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty sums up what seems to be the overall consensus, that Vol. 2 is perfectly fine but no Vol. 1:
Is it possible to be disappointed by a film and still manage to have a good time watching it? Absolutely. And Guardians Vol. 2 is Exhibit A of that. It’s smarter than most films, but not as smart as the first one. It’s funnier than most films, but not as funny as the first one. And it still probably belongs in the upper tier of Marvel movies but nowhere near as high up as the first one.
But there are some who bucked the trend and preferred Vol. 2 to the original, including Nerdist’s Kyle Anderson (and, honestly, yours truly):
Those small things aside, and the fact that Baby Groot is SOOOOOOOO cute, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 delivers on all of the promise of the first movie and even improves in almost every aspect. Particularly refreshing to me were its almost defiant disinterest in what’s happening in the rest of the MCU, favoring its own internal continuity more than that of the studio as a whole, and the focus on mixing up character dynamics in a very real way, without it being “dun dun DUN” plot reveals.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is in theaters May 5.