Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★

Going in with aligned expectations this was a delightful experience. Chris Pratt is a bit unfortunately sidelined from the comedy in favor of a more dramatic arc, which makes the whole thing seem less humorous. And that's quite fine when you consider how much more the first movie is than just the gags, because this second volume turns up those things a few notches.

First of all it is a visual spectacle with computer graphics that look weirdly real at times. Not uncanny weird, but weird in how actually real some obviously fake things appear. Perhaps that perception will change in a few years when realer graphics come along though. More importantly there are comic book inspired compositions that are really nice. The first movie was more interested in setting up gimmicky 3D shots, but here there are some compositions that are just supposed to work as cinematic images. Some of those things are made in the style of tacky 70s sci-fi as well, which is a very good flavor for this franchise.

Especially with a more deliberate soundtrack from the appropriate era. The songs are not as broad as in the first movie, and are instead picked to fit each scene better. Not just thematically, but at times the songs are entirely synchronized with visual rhythms (e.g. Yondu's arrow in flight and the Sovereign fleet arriving). There's just so much awareness in details that are not simply tied to the story or dialogue.

And yet, those things are also tweaked to be a little bit better. There is less funny banter, but instead there are more emotional arcs that do work like an old Star Wars movie if cynicism is checked at the door. The apparent cuteness of the dancing tree annoyed me on my first viewing, but the movie is decent enough to acknowledge what it is doing there. It's more of a distraction from boring action than anything else, and that is a great concept that more of these movies should adopt.

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