Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★

"Ow my nipples!"

I was doubled over, crying laughing at the above line, delivered by the unexpected standout comedy hero of this movie. It's indicative of the quality of humor in this film that the joke is both a one-off laugh, a revealing layer for a dense character, and a callback to an earlier plot development. The movie is both funnier than the first and more deeply rooted in genuine emotion, resulting in a singularly satisfying cinematic experience.

Vol. 2 is a proper sequel but also a great self contained story, something the rest of the Marvel universe could learn a lesson from. It drew out and elaborated on themes already present in the first film and made a grand story that felt super organic to the existing world.

And it looked goddamn lush. Wow, it looked beautiful. This film is the new standard-bearer for how a big budget production can look. It's wildly psychedelic, without the visual overload of Marvel's other trippy film, Doctor Strange. Everything is in its right place here, deeper, richer, and more thoughtful than anything else in the MCU.

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