Kurtis Belanger’s review published on Letterboxd:
**PART OF THE GREAT MCU REWATCH OF 2018**
So how does Marvel and James Gunn follow what is for many (myself included) to be the best MCU film to date? The team gets split up, new characters are added, and we get the best villain in the MCU to date.
In all seriousness, this film wears its confidence on it's sleeve. It knows going in what it is and what it wants to do, and effortlessly carries itself through out it's runtime. If only more movies were as confident in their vision.
This is a comic book movie that focuses on characters and emotions. There's no lack of action and humor, but there's also some moments of sorrow, anger, love. This film has an emotional maturity that is impressive for it's genre.
The team is all back with a few minor additions (Mantis, Nebula, and Yondu); but what's interesting is that this film pulls an Empire Strikes Back and splits the characters relatively early on. This forces you to see characters in new and exciting ways. The best example of this is Yondu and Rocket, but you even get great insight into Gamora and Peter.
This works because when the characters do reconvene in the end, they are better characters, with their relationships and bonds stronger than before. It's an interesting way to build character in a sequel chalked full of characters you already know.
Speaking of characters, newcomers like Mantis and Ego are good; with returning characters Nebula and Yondu given more screentime and attention. The latter of which steals the show with a subplot that touches on themes of belonging. Yondu is an outcast for most of his life and this movie, and it's when he finds love and affection from the Guardians that you feel like he's found home. The line where Rocket and Baby Groot welcome him to the Guardians is really emotional and gets me each time I see the movie.
This film is also just on another level with visuals. I mean the Marvel movies have never looked bad, but the CGI in this movie is on a whole other level, especially in the final act. As we inch towards Infinity War, they're clearly building to that with visuals that just get better and better. The end battle is simply fantastic.
My issue with the film is that the Sovereign are very one-note and their jokes usually boil down to how pretentious and full of themselves they are. It's fine, but I wished there was more dimension to this group. At the very least we know Adam Warlock is coming which I think will really add a lot of dimension to this group.
We get used to movies building up to something else, but some movies don't need to contribute to a larger story. I'm happy that we got more Guardians, and by focusing on their world and not the larger world as a whole you're able to explore these characters with more depth and emotion. This is a great movie with a lot of spectacle, but it's really about those beautiful moments of sincerity that make this my favourite MCU film to date.