It might not feel like it — about eight of the damn things are shooting at the minute, not to mention all the TV things — but it’s been six whole months since the last entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe hit theaters, with “Doctor Strange” way back in November. Don’t expect a gap of that size again (three are scheduled for release this year and next), but anyway, the wait is about to be over, as the international release of “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2,” the eagerly anticipated sequel to James Gunn’s space-opera original, is about to begin, ahead of its U.S. release next Friday.
And with the release, comes the reviews, which spilled out this morning after an early embargo lift (which is why ours isn’t ready: keep your eyes peeled for it later…). And Gunn’s sequel — which sees Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Baby Groot take on Elizabeth Debicki as, as far as we can tell, an Oscar statue, and meeting Peter’s father (Kurt Russell) — is being pretty well-received.
If there’s a consensus (and consensus is a bad thing, remember), it’s that the film isn’t quite as good as its predecessor, though a few critics seem to prefer the sequel. But more or less everyone seems to have enjoyed the film to a greater or lesser extent, so it looks like the Marvel factory hasn’t come to a grinding halt just yet. Read some extracts with links below, and look forward to our review later on today.
“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.
“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.”
Any hardcore comic-book reader will tell you that most comic series alternate between big stories and the stories between the big stories, where the characters get room to breathe and the creators resolve lingering mysteries and subplots before the next big crossover. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the movie version of that. It’s likable but uneventful, even when the fate of the galaxy inevitably (but mostly theoretically) hangs in the balance. The characters and their relationships are strong and the dialogue is sharp, but the whole thing feels like a minor installment in an ongoing series. The Guardians do good and bad, but they wind up almost exactly where they started, ready for Avengers: Infinity War.