Swooping in from out of nowhere in 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy brought a fresh amount of humor and levity to a fairly serious genre of filmmaking. Amassing an incredible $773m at the box office, Marvel knew they were onto a winner with an everyman hero in Chris Pratt's Peter Quill/Star-Lord.
Now the blockbuster sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is out in theaters. So how does the follow-up stack up? Well, as it turns out, early reactions from the critics are reasonably lukewarm. Arguing that the enjoyment factor is somewhat diminished, the spectacle is still there with enough fun to make it worth your time and money.
Peter Travers from Rolling Stone believes that the breakout original feels superior because of the lack of expectation.
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 can't match the sneak-attack surprise of its predecessor," he writes. "You can only do that once. The good news, however, is that the followup, while taking on some CGI bloat and sequel slickness, hasn't lost its love for inspired lunacy. Hanging with Peter Quill and his mercenary space misfits is still everything you'd want in a wild summer ride."
Nebula A Buzz Kill In Awkward Chemistry
The Verge's Bryan Bishop would have preferred director James Gunn to focus on the developing romance between Quill and Gamora. But instead shoehorned more family drama with Nebula to kill that momentum.
"Multiple storylines interweave in a way that may have looked Empire Strikes Back sharp in an outline, but in practice, it's painfully awkward. A major issue is that none of the characters are particularly endearing this time around. Gamora and Star-Lord's slow-burn chemistry is still there, but it's sadly dialled back to make room for Gamora's relationship with her sister - and (Karen) Gillan once again delivers the weakest performance in the ensemble."
Owen Gleiberman of Variety remarked that the down to earth charm has been overtaken by the sheer size of scale. Going on to conclude that it defeats the purpose and appeal.
"The gods of sci-fi spectacle must, of course, be served, and the climax of Vol 2 is exorbitant, rousing, touching, and just obligatory enough to be too much of a good thing. (That isn't even counting the half-dozen post-credit teaser scenes, which make the film feel like...TV.) The difference between the first Guardians and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is that the new movie is flush with what a big deal it is. Ironically, that makes it a smaller deal."
Colorful, Retro Tone Still Kept In Tact
Julian Roman of MovieWeb is of the opinion that it delivers what it advertises: action, comedy and just all round fun and frivolity.
"It doesn't quite reach the greatness of the original, but comes close enough to be a smashing success. Guardians 2 bursts unto the screen like a pack of rainbow Skittles. It's an eighties pop fueled ride that starts the summer movie season off with a technicolor bang."
Finally Empire's own Chris Hewitt points out that any attempt to match the excitement and surprise of the first was going to be near on impossible.
"(When) you've lost the element of surprise, following that is no easy task. Happy to report, though, bar a few last-act wobbles and the odd tonal shift, Gunn has done it again, crafting a sequel that keeps the focus on the characters we fell for first time around while pumping up the volume... There's plenty to enjoy here, whether it's the perfectly deployed Baby Groot moments, or a general strain of anarchic weirdness that runs all the way through the credits and which still feels unique to this franchise, not just within the MCU, but blockbusters in general."