The Fate of the Furious isn’t the only 2017 tentpole to largely revolve around family – between the sisterly feud brewing between Gamora and Nebula, not to mention the moment in which Star-Lord finally crosses paths with his wayward old man, that universal theme of family is also the lifeblood coursing through the veins of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
James Gunn’s long-anticipated sequel is now a mere few days away from its theatrical debut in the UK – granted, Marvel’s spacefaring adventure already opened for those in Japan on April 10th – and it’s fair to say that the excitement is palpable. We’ve had extensive trailers, behind-the-scenes featurettes and enough TV spots and blistering promos to sink the Milano, but now that the review embargo has officially lifted, it’s time to sift through the early critical consensus for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Keep in mind that there are mild spoilers to be found in the extracts below, and you’ll be able to find WGTC’s official verdict online over the coming days. All in all, though, critical opinion is somewhat split when it comes to James Gunn’s starry adventure in the sense that, for all of its spectacle and poignant family moments, Guardians 2 purportedly fails to recapture the magic of the first.
“Perhaps not quite on par with the first, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is still an absolute blast from start to finish, and is easily the funniest and most emotionally engaging entry in the MCU yet. Despite a few issues, Gunn has served up a brilliantly bonkers follow-up that should leave any fan of these terrific characters very happy indeed. Bring on the Infinity War.”
“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. It’s fun, though GOTG2 doesn’t have the same sense of weird urgency and point that the first film had. They’re still guarding, although the galaxy never seems in much danger.”
“It can so hard for filmmakers to emulate preceding endeavours that inspired and entertained audiences, particularly when doing so to the extent that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy managed. To give the viewer what they want without contrivance is a tough balance to strike, and when the opening act to this eagerly anticipated James Gunn sequel begins, with Baby Groot adamant he plays music as the collective fight the bad guys, the second Mr. Blue Sky begins and the sentient tree-like character shows off his moves, while we see Drax flung through the air mercilessly, we know things are going to work out just fine.”
“With all the explosions, hardware on display and fight scenes, the visual effects bill for the movie must have been astronomical. Nonetheless, Gunn is just as interested in squeezing out the pathos as in staging action set-pieces. In the final reel, when all the main protagonists are being selfless and heroic, the film risks turning into a full-blown weepie.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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. The attitude toward all the violence and mayhem is mostly good-humored, casual and tossed off, which provokes a few good laughs and chuckles, and writer-director Gunn gets away with a lot of lame stuff simply by moving on quickly to the next gag or explosion. As before, his bluffly cynical, good-times attitude supplies a devil-may-care feel to the proceedings that’s quite appealing to audiences. But Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 plays like a second ride on a roller coaster that was a real kick the first time around but feels very been-there/done-that now.”
“Admittedly, Vol. 2’s thematic ambitions can make the film feel overstuffed. And as with most Marvel films, this two-hour-plus sequel suffers from spectacle fatigue, Gunn delivering the umpteenth epic comic-book-movie showdown in which several planets and the lives of all the Guardians hang in the balance. But if such excess is to be expected, at least he manages to ground the proceedings in genuine pathos.”
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 shoots into UK theaters first on April 28th, before expanding Stateside in time for May 5th. A third volume is already in the works, and James Gunn is on board to simultaneously close out the Guardians trilogy and help establish Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – which may not be called Phase 4 after all.