Grant Hodges’s review published on Letterboxd:
While I’m well aware that it’s an unpopular opinion, I genuinely believe that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the best thing the MCU has ever produced. Ironically, aside from the black sheep that is The Incredible Hulk, it’s also the furthest removed from the rest of the universe. Sure, there’s vague references to Thanos. But this movie isn’t focused on the search for an infinity stone or cross-promotion of a future film. It’s instead focused solely on character - and I love it for that.
The way each of our characters is forced to confront not only Ego (the villain) but the ego within themselves is brilliant - with Yondu and Nebula being given completely believable redemption arcs to top it all off. While it can obviously be difficult to re-bottle the bolt of lighting that struck in the first movie with its sequel, Guardians Vol. 2 surpasses its predecessor in virtually every way. The script is funnier, the soundtrack is somehow even better, and every member of the cast is beautifully fleshed out - to the point where you actually buy them as a family by the end of this film, in a way that you didn’t at the end of the first movie.
Yeah, it’s not perfect. A handful of jokes don’t work (the undercutting of the circumstances surrounding Peter’s mother’s death with a David Hasselhoff cameo probably being the biggest offender) and the Sovereign feel a bit messy as villains. But with how much this movie gets right, from the best VFX of the franchise to the best cinematography, these flaws are almost irrelevant. James Gunn made one of the funniest, most heartfelt and rewatchable movies of all time. Plus he used a 200 million dollar blockbuster budget to end a movie with a shot of a raccoon crying. And that... that’s just beautiful.