nicktday’s review published on Letterboxd:
For those out there that loved the original but seemed disappointed or disinterested after this amazing sequel, I can only assume their 'love' was more akin to a mild liking.
This is where re-watching films becomes so important. I suffer terribly from over clocking my expectations. Frankly few films could reach the sky high expectations I put upon them when I am eagerly awaiting a certain film - sometimes for a year or two in advance. A second (and third and fourth...) watch allows the film to play out without that weight. You can sit back and enjoy what the film is actually doing rather than measuring it against what it wasn't.
There are a little too many jokes, but frankly they almost all land with varying degrees of success and that is really the only issue I can find. The soul of the film is about furthering the dynamic between the characters and letting them grow as a group. If you don't love these characters then you're going to instantly find flaws.
The villain (often a chink in Marvel's armour) this time around has a much bigger purpose than simply being evil. Kurt Russell's magnificent 'Ego' is there predominantly to fuel Peter Quill's story arc and the big bad aspect at the end is merely a bonus. In terms of antagonising the Guardians for a lot of the film, it is side characters such as The Ravagers and The Sovereign that have just as much to do.
Mantis is a delight and the u-turn made with Yondu is an excellent manoeuvre. The returning Guardians all get plenty of time to shine and although they are separated for large periods of time, they come together to end the film in a much stronger position.
The action is flat out superb. There are 2 or 3 standout sequences and visually everything is quite spectacular. The detail present in every shot is glorious. The aesthetics are unique and vibrant and the whole thing gels together with its predecessor to provide a perfect sequel. I really fail to understand how anyone can love one without the other.
It will be interesting to see just how big a part the Guardians play in Avengers: Infinity War and it's sequel as to how it sets them up for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3. Given how much influence James Gunn has clearly had on his films I can't imagine he hasn't been consulted about their arc in those upcoming movies.
For now lets just hope James Gunn can achieve the miraculous and pull off the closing third of his trilogy just as well as he has so far.