Star-Lord and the rest of his “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” gang have their work cut out for them when the sequel opens May 5 if they want to match the critical and financial success of the Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Dave Bautista original.
According to most of Hollywood’s top critics, director James Gunn’s follow-up to Marvel’s 2014 hit falters a bit when it comes to unadulterated entertainment, but the emphasis on family makes “Vol. 2” a welcome addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Here’s what the critics are saying:
“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. Maybe a little too hard. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ is an adventure worth taking, and the number of moviegoers around the planet who will want to take it should prove awe-inspiring. But it doesn’t so much deepen the first ‘Guardians’ as offer a more strenuous dose of fun to achieve a lesser high.”
“Most of [the] maverick mercenaries prove rather less charming the second time around; they’re like bickering family now and not in an amusing way. For starters, some of the characters who, at first exposure, were ingratiating in part because of their rough edges have now turned downright ornery and are not much fun to be around. First and foremost of these is Zoe Saldana’s green-skinned assassin Gamora, whose every line now seems barked out in an elevated state of annoyance. Part of her problem is that her equally badass sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) has returned and not only tries to harm her, but also brings up their unpleasant family history. But even before this, Gamora is in a rotten mood, ostensibly for having to babysit so many loony colleagues.”
“Nothing dooms a comic-book movie quicker than when it takes itself too seriously. Ponderous existential handwringing is a drag. Maybe that’s why ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was such a welcome and delirious blast of laughing gas when it hit theaters nearly three years ago. Here was a movie that not only had Marvel’s usual smattering of giddy punch lines; it seemed to be made up entirely of them. It was like watching a superhero sit on a whoopee cushion for two hours—and the gag never got tired. Alas, in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,’ the gag is starting to feel like it’s getting a bit old. It’s still a good Marvel movie (at times, a very good one), but it’s a come down from the dizzying highs of the first installment. The laughs are still there, but they’re less involuntary.”
“If you’re a fan of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot from the first movie, then what ‘Vol. 2’ offers will be enough to keep you entertained with a mix of cranky banter, anti-heroic heroics and some deep dives into the Super Hits of the ’70s.
If you’re not already on the ‘Guardians’ train, of course, this follow-up isn’t going to win you over, nor will it appeal to those who demand that sequels attempt to offer the same jolts of unexpected pleasure that first chapters do. ‘Vol. 2’ is filler, to be sure, but if you like the flavor of these movies, you’ll enjoy this second bite.”
“Family is a big theme in this movie and serves as its unifying plot thread. If the first ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was about bringing the team together, this one is about testing that bond. While ‘Vol. 2’ does a good job of earning their group arc, the journey there involves splitting up the team for their own personal missions. Gamora and Drax join Peter when he goes off with Ego and Mantis. Rocket and Groot end up paired with Yondu and Nebula. As such, the wonderful chemistry that drove the first film is diminished a bit here.”
“The sequel has both the advantage and disadvantage of following up the wholly original hit that was ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘ in 2014. This time around, the joy of meeting these characters for the first time is ruled out but the door is open for more intimate adventures now that audiences have met the bunch. Though ‘Vol. 2’ never quite recaptures the magic offered by meeting the cosmic heroes, the sequel makes up for such troubles elsewhere.”