In 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy crashed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a band of renegade misfits who poked fun at their serious superhero peers with disparaging banter and a kick-ass soundtrack.
If Vol. 1 was an exciting, thrilling take on what could have been a B-movie space opera, Vol. 2 definitely packs the same type of punch — but not everyone wanted to hear the same record a second time.
That’s the biggest complaint of critics who saw James Gunn‘s intergalactic space epic, which reunites our rag-tag group of heroes played by Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, and Dave Bautista.
Reviewers still considered Vol. 2 a breath of fresh air in a crowded superhero cinemascape, as the sequel brought back the same irreverent tone, disdainful banter, and action sequences flawlessly synched up to classic rock songs.
But the formula that was so revolutionary in Vol. 1 seemed slightly stale the second go-around — but that doesn’t at all mean Vol. 2 will leave fans disappointed. (Just don’t expect it to be better than the OG!)
See what the critics had to say (below) — and check out Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 in theaters May 5!
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: “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. Guardians Vol. 1 was so original and unpredictable and irreverent and silly and sublime that Guardians Vol. 2 can’t help but feel like a step backwards.”
Owen Gleiberman, Variety: 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, is working to entertain you. Maybe a little too hard. Vol. 2 is an adventure worth taking… But it doesn’t so much deepen the first Guardians as offer a more strenuous dose of fun to achieve a lesser high.”
Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter: “Alas, most of these maverick mercenaries prove rather less charming the second time around; they’re like bickering family now and not in an amusing way … 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 … But even before this, Gamora is in a rotten mood, ostensibly for having to babysit so many loony colleagues.”
Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: 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.”
Mike Ryan, UPROXX: “It’s almost weird these movies are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Vol. 2 has almost nothing to do with the ongoing MCU arc ├óΓé¼ΓÇ£ and that’s a good thing … Vol. 2 exists in its own little bubble and this movie is better off for it. Yes, this will all change soon when the next Avengers movie happens, but for now you just get these assholes. And the good news is: We all really like these assholes.”
Matt Singer, ScreenCrush: “The characters’ sharp personalities keep even the driest scenes entertaining ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ and Bautista’s extremely literal Drax has evolved into a scene-stealing punchline machine ├óΓé¼ΓÇ¥ but there’s almost no momentum (not to mention any memorable action) to the film’s long middle section, which sometimes looks more like a really expensive Richard Linklater movie than a summer blockbuster.”
Eric Kohn, IndieWire: “Vol. 2 is also weighed down by clunky attempts to tap into the original’s appeal. The banter often feels forced (the word “douchebag” can only be dropped so many times before it grows tedious) and the sentimental developments surrounding Quill’s discovery of his father are half-baked. Much of the material gets rehashed with slight variations (a recurring David Hasselhoff joke should probably go dormant for now) and many of the space battles have a redundant quality.”
[Image via Marvel.]