Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★½

I'm not a Marvel fanboy. At least, I don't think I am.

Even though I like every feature film that has been released in the MCU, I'm not going to pretend that they're the best things ever put to celluloid. I wouldn't shriek or rant if someone had an opposing opinion regarding the franchise or if someone pointed out the consistent flaws throughout a lot of the Marvel catalog, like the mediocre antagonists. Hell, sometimes I'll join in making fun of Iron Man 2's hilariously bad screenplay or Thor's explanation of "the science of Asgard".

So now that you know that I'm not an overprotective enthusiast, don't think that I'm over-exaggerating when I say that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of the best comic book movies ever made, and not just because of the qualities carried over from the original, like James Gunn's electric screenplay, Oscar-worthy CGI and charisma up-the-ass.

Emotion and character reign supreme in this space opera, completely overshadowing the plot, which is for the best. Just like co-star Vin Diesel's other blockbuster franchise, the over-arching theme is family, only here it goes far deeper into the depths of literal and figurative families than Fast and Furious ever could.

Every member of team has emotional baggage from their tragic pasts. Peter Quill is still heart-broken over his mother's passing and can't seem to let go of his abandonment issues. Gamora and Nebula have abusive childhoods (the latter carries a thirst for vengeance because of said past). Rocket lacks self-confidence and uses thievery and mischief to hide his pain. Yondu is haunted by his regretful actions in the past and struggles to redeem himself.

None of these storylines feel emotionally manipulative or forced, as they all develop from the personalities set up in the first installment. Everything comes to a head in an honest-to-God amazing third act, combining the emotion with the odd-ball science-fiction action and comedy that we've come to love.

The soundtrack, while not living up to the absurd heights of the first one, is used to greater effect here and the songs actually coincide with the emotions and themes of the scenes they are put in, to the point where a music choice in the final scene was so well-realized that it actually made me tear up.

If the pacing was a little less choppy in the first hour, this would have easily been my favorite Marvel Movie, but alas its still fantastic.

Also, I can't believe Gunn put in a scene featuring robot prostitutes and Kevin Feige was perfectly okay with it.

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