"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is critic-proof. You're gonna see the most anticipated movie of the summer whether critics give it thumbs up or thumbs down.
But for those of you on the fence about giving Marvel more of your hard-earned allowance money this summer, you can rest easy, because the critical consensus says "Vol. 2" is worth (mostly) every penny.
Reviews hit today for Star-Lord and Baby Groot's second big-screen outing, giving the sequel a "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes -- but not everyone is a fan.
Here's what The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy had to say:
"'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. 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."
Forbes' Scott Mendelson also wasn't especially impressed, pointing out Marvel's tendency to fall short with their big-screen second installments:
"The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to have a middle child syndrome. As is the case with 'Thor: The Dark World,' 'Iron Man 2,' and 'Avengers: Age of Ultron,' the second 'Guardians'is stuck with no major chess pieces to move into place. The 'monster of the week' installment rambles along with very little plot, hoping that a fun time spent in good company, plus special effects razzle-dazzle, will distract from the lack of storytelling. There is enough to appreciate, especially in the comedy and the arcs, to merit a viewing. But there is near-fatal push-pull between an intimate character story and the requisite big-budget action set pieces."
Variety's Owen Gleiberman felt writer-director James Gunn was working overtime to satisfy audiences:
"[The film] is 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 ... But it doesn't so much deepen the first 'Guardians' as offer a more strenuous dose of fun to achieve a lesser high.'
And The Verge's Bryan Bishop really wasn't having it:
"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."
Bishop goes on to single out that Michael Rooker's Yondu gets one of the film's better storylines, with the actor "adding some unexpected depth to the mercenary as he struggles to redeem himself for past misdeeds, but there's only so much the ancillary players can do when the heart of the movie is so painfully, soul-crushingly inert."
Another thing Bishop liked (for the most part)? The ending: "Thankfully, 'Vol. 2' does come together in the end with a powerful emotional payoff, but that's only it becomes a computer-generated action-fest with the fate of the universe hanging in the balance again."
Okay, now how about some more positive reviews? Cool? Cool. Here's iO9's Germain Lussier:
"There's nothing I specifically dislike about it, and I legitimately love a lot of it. But the shadow of that first movie just looms so largely. You can tell Gunn wanted to do something different with the sequel, defy some expectations. He succeeded -- 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' is a deeper, more surprising, emotional and layered movie than 'Vol. 1.'
Eric Kohn at IndieWire thought the film was a great time at the movies, but...
"If you've seen 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' you already know a lot about 'Vol. 2' -- a lively comedic space opera filled with banter between humans and imaginative aliens, astonishing visual effects, and the most idiosyncratic set of characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (As a bonus, no distracting Iron Man cameos.) However, if you've seen 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' you've also encountered a better version of this experience ... There's so much to enjoy about the Guardians that one can easily relax into its formula. It's often a thrill to simply roll with the lively classic rock soundtrack, smarmy banter, slapstick battle scenes, and a wooden alien named Groot, now more adorable than ever."
Mike Ryan over at Uproxx also had a really good time at the movie:
"'Guardians of the Galaxy 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 a**holes. And the good news is: We all really like these a**holes."
One character Ryan especially liked this time around is Drax. Ryan praised the character this time around as being a "delight" and that the big guy is "a much better rounded character this time around."
Nerdist's Kyle Anderson praises Gunn's character-driven story:
"'Vol. 2' is a smaller film than both the first film and the previous grip of Marvel movies. There are still the requisite CGI space battles and monster fights and universe-jeopardizing peril, but even more than the first time around, Gunn does all this directly as a result and reflection of his characters. It feels much more like a comedy of personalities than it necessarily does a comic book sci-fi movie. There's clearly abundant love from the writer-director for the team, and even for the new characters and returning side characters. Each of them matters; they all get their moment or three to shine."
Chris Nashawaty at Entertainment Weekly is mixed-to-positive, with the original film edging out the sequel:
"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."
Long story less long: This sequel is good, but not great -- or, rather, not as great as your experience was with the first film. Regardless of whether or not it falls short of the high bar set by its predecessor, audiences seem guaranteed several opportunities to laugh and smile as they make the comparison.
"Guardians Vol. 2" hits theaters May 5.