Noah Thompson’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm Mary Poppins, y'all!
This was my first time seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 since seeing it in theaters. Two years ago, this silly movie with a tree baby and an alien talking about how sensitive his nipples are made me cry by the end. Though no tears were shed on this viewing, I still think this is a downright great movie. And, though to a lesser degree when compared to something like The Winter Soldier, it's an example of how to make a sequel that keeps what made its predecessor such a special experience while giving a little more meat to the bones.
For starters, this is like one of only four MCU flicks I think has a notable and quality original score. (The other three are Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War.) It manages scale, and it's not just there for background. Unlike the first Guardians flick, it carries its own weight instead of letting the licensed tracks do the heavy duty lifting. (A bud and I will here and there exchange tracks from the score because we like it a lot.) That being said, since this is a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the licensed soundtrack kicks a whole lot of ass. I still enjoy the opening sequence with "Come and Get Your Love" from the original more, but how can you not adore Baby Groot dancing along to "Mr. Blue Sky"? (Fun fact, I've had "Mr. Blue Sky" as my alarm clock for years. It being featured in this movie just cemented it as a smart choice.) Though my favorite musical sequence from either of the flicks comes from here in the scene involving "Come a Little Bit Closer." We get to see Yondu at his strongest, a ton of neat visual flairs and impressive shots, and when the music crescendos at the end? Whew boy.
Something else that was still in the first flick but perhaps is more prevalent here is the balance between tones. Something I admire about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 when comparing it to something like Thor: Ragnarok is its ability to include humor in its more dramatic sequences without said humor completely taking the air out of any emotional beat the movie was going for. James Gunn's knack for toilet humor and crass content is still frequent, but he understands when a moment needs to simply play out directly. (Though there are a few moments where he allows humor to properly pierce into a scene that would otherwise risk being too melodramatic.) There are scenes in here that do such a notable job of tugging at my heartstrings. Peter playing catch with Ego, the fight between Gamora and Nebula, and most everything with Rocket and Yondu. It's one of a handful of recent superhero affairs that focuses on the theme of family, but it's hard for me to think of one that does it better than this. (EDIT: I forgot for a couple of hours that Logan, a movie in my top ten favorite films period, exists. Don't worry, I'm putting on the dunce cap as we speak.)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does have a few issues, and they are enough to make me think the first is still overall the superior flick. Not all of the humor lands to its upmost effect. I still find it odd that Drax goes from being someone who simply doesn't understand metaphor to just being an idiot, but at least I still love Dave Bautista in the role. There also may be just a little too much Baby Groot for its own good, yet I can't get all that mad at the little twig lad. (When I saw this in the theater with my mom, we giggled for a good two minutes straight when Baby Groot threw up on himself.) I have my problems, but I cannot deny that this is still a movie that I through and through love. Peter is a compelling lead, Ego is a neat villain, Mantis is adorable, Yondu is the best dad, Taserface is a hilarious bit villain, and this is just an awesome ride of a movie. An undeniably fun time with friends and family. These Guardians of the Galaxy films are just the best, aren't they? Endgame premieres in Hollywood tonight, so I'll be keeping away from most social media until then. However, before this Thursday, I'll have one final stop in this marathon. Time to go for the head.