Kingsman: The Golden Circle Buzz: Is the Sequel Better Than the Original?

by | September 19, 2017 | Comments

(Photo by Giles Keyte/20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

Reviews for Kingsman: The Golden Circle have arrived, and so far, the sequel isn’t faring so well compared to the original. Released in 2015, Kingsman: The Secret Service is Certified Fresh with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 74%. So far, with 34 reviews accounted for, The Golden Circle is well below that with a Rotten score of 56%.

The consensus on the new movie, which introduces a ton of new characters — including Julianne Moore‘s villain and Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, and Pedro Pascal as American counterparts to the Kingsmen — doesn’t sound so positive. What exactly are the critics saying? Here’s a breakdown:

How does The Golden Circle compare to The Secret Service?

Just as stylish — and as grotesque — as its predecessor.
Adi Robertson, The Verge

Director/writer Matthew Vaughn recaptures the humor and over-the-top action that made the original such a hit.
Julian Roman, MovieWeb

Lacks the excitement and freshness of its predecessor.
Rebecca Pahle, Film Journal International

If the first Kingsman left you going ‘Wow!’ this one leaves you saying ‘Hmm…cool.
Kyle Anderson, Nerdist

If the first Kingsman, at its best, felt like a dry martini of a joke, then this one is more Jack and Mountain Dew — unsubtle, unrefreshing, and unnecessary.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

Less of a sequel, more an American remix.
Adam Starkey, Metro

How does it compare to other movies?

The Kingsman series has gotten so outlandish that Moonraker suddenly looks plausible by comparison.
Peter Debruge, Variety

Lazy and self-aware, it’s Vaughn’s Ocean’s Twelve.
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

(Photo by Giles Keyte/20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

How does it hold up on its own?

The movie has its moments, but the bloat and the blandness take their toll.
– Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

This is a long, ugly, joyless movie.
– Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

As minor entertainment, it’ll do.
– Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

The original must be seen to appreciate and understand the sequel. Golden Circle wouldn’t make a lick of sense otherwise.
Julian Roman, MovieWeb

How is the action?

Boasts some of Vaughn’s most ambitious action-centric filmmaking yet, from the lasso-snapping joys of a bar fight to a mountain-centric set piece that will shred nerves and engender tremendous cheers.
– Kate Erbland, IndieWire

Truly breathtaking and exciting…incredibly fun to watch.
– Molly Freeman, ScreenRant

Bloody terrific…Vaughn keeps things impressively kinetic, gymnastic and focused.
– Dan Jolin, Empire Magazine

A couple of interesting fights and standoffs. Of course, the action theatrics are in line with those from the earlier movie, with their physically impossible, CGI-infused, single-take melees involving inventive uses of random props — fun, but no longer surprising
Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

When you change the fundamental rules of action-movie storytelling as radically as the Kingsman series does, then these adventures may as well be taking place on the moon, where a normal human can jump tall buildings. It blurs the stakes and makes it impossible to know what, if anything, the risks of operating in such an otherwise-lethal world are.
– Peter Debruge, Variety

Don’t expect anything nearly as aggressive as the incredible church shootout from the first film.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

How well is it directed?

With boisterous but carefully calibrated enthusiasm. Unlike some other directors of big franchise extravaganzas, Vaughn actually seems to prefer character, dialogue and humor to chases and explosion, and he makes mostly very good use of his almost invariably well-chosen actors by identifying their appeal and drawing out their humor.
– Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

How is the new villain?

[Julianne] Moore’s villain is incredibly fun to watch…for the most part the villain is a high point.
– Molly Freeman, ScreenRant

Imagine if her Far From Heaven character was transformed into an insane super villain.
– Julian Roman, MovieWeb

We haven’t seen Julianne Moore as deliciously loose in ages.
– Joanna Langfield, The Movie Minute

Julianne Moore has never been on more callously fun form…it’s a pleasure to watch Moore kick back and dial up the crazy.
– Adam Starkey, Metro

She’s underused but provides brief bursts of quality as a ’50s-obsessed psychopath who’s unhinged in a gently perky way.
– Dan Jolin, Empire Magazine

(Photo by Giles Keyte/20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

How are the Statesmen?

Jeff Bridges’ turn as Statesman chief Champagne is a bit of a disappointment as it’s mostly an extended cameo where he parodies his own gruff cowboy persona from his past films.
– Jim Vejvoda, IGN

At least they found a way for Tatum to get to dance, so thumbs up there.
– Kimber Myers, The Playlist

A cute idea, and a reasonably effective commercial for whiskey…but setting up a whole new cast of characters almost an hour into the film grinds what had been a peppy little thriller to a screeching halt.
– Matt Singer, ScreenCrush

The Kingsmen interacting with their American counterparts is downright hilarious. The whiskey drinking, cowboy hat wearing, chaw chewers, are a great contrast to their refined cousins. The “suited and booted” tag line is an apt description for the antics. The introduction of the new characters lays solid groundwork for future films.
– Julian Roman, MovieWeb

How is Elton John?

The best use of a celebrity cameo since David Hasselhoff met Spongebob.
– Adam Starkey, Metro

Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens everywhere on September 22. Read all the reviews as they come in here.

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