Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★½

Paying homage to the colorful comic book legacies of guys like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 delivers on what was great about the original by doubling down and distinguishing itself even further from the typical MCU canon. The Skittles inspired color palette is back, there's just as many obscure pop culture references and even more banter within this crew of intriguing characters. What's new is it's aspirations; a focus on developing and explaining who these characters are and the root of their irreverence. While some worked significantly better than others, I laughed, was moved, and laughed some more at this exciting and unique effort from James Gunn and this great cast; finding myself surprisingly engaged emotionally at several points. It's the endearing emphasis on the group's dedication to one another, and the net gain Guardians 2 offers is a deeper, richer understanding of these characters and their broken pasts. And for those key progressions, I really loved this sequel. While far from perfect, as an avid comic book nerd I relish Gunn's emphasis on dazzling art design and eccentric, fantastical characters; his apparent passion for eye-popping visuals and attention to detail. It's a sublime piece of pop entertainment about what it means to belong to a family, and the messiness that often accompanies such meaningful connections. The balance struck here between comedy and drama is it's greatest feat, bar none. And if the elevated emotional stakes, thrilling action and consistently hilarious gags weren't enough; the film also gives some love to Sam Cooke, who, as Quill says, "Is one of the greatest Earth-singers of all time."

Truer words are rarely spoken.

2017 Ranked

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