Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★½

There are two types of beings in the universe: Those who dance, and those who do not.

Honestly surprised but admittedly happy to report that I for the first time like this more than the original Guardians, and that my current self as a whole finds this to be a truly lovely film. Yes, it's juvenile dick jokes and sappy sentimentality with not a lot of leeway in regards to switching back and forth between the two. You know what I love though? Juvenile dick jokes, sappy sentimentality, and sometimes for a story to be a little messy with how it tells itself so long as I feel like it's being "true" to itself. In that regard, I feel inclined to label Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as what almost feels like an easy winner for the best looking movie in the MCU. Six years later, and thinking about how as of late there's been films and shows in this franchise that drop the ball and "age poorly" as soon as they premiere, it's routinely impressive how much texture, depth, and above all else sincere care there appears to be with so many creature designs, planets, and character details. With a collection of stories that are, of course, based on comic books, this with its scale that comes from Ego in particular and pure cojones dares to look and "feel" like flipping through a comic in such a manner that Marvel at times even seems like it wants to avoid, to their detriment if you ask me. So, thank God for James Gunn for having made this misfit team of weirdos into an A-list property, and then getting a blank check to make an even funnier and more earnest sequel about daddy issues, knowing you're still deserving of love even if you're not the best person you can be, and thinking about an important query as important as what it would be like if Vin Diesel voiced a baby. Once again, every core performance here is a real wonder, and at the top of the pile has to be Bautista as Drax. I'm glad that he seems to be moving onto bigger and brighter things, as well as roles that won't require him to put on head to toe makeup for hours on end, and it's a bummer in some way to know that he wasn't fully with how Drax's characterization morphed from film to film, yet I'll be damned if Drax with his bluntness and sometimes just being a dumbass doesn't tickle me pink. (Him and Mantis are so cute together, man.) I also want to give a shout-out to Michael Rooker as Yondu, the jagged, complex yet still bleeding heart of Vol. 2. I would frankly think most other films trying to take this character where he's taken, especially one that's trying to juggle so many balls as a Marvel blockbuster, would just not stick the landing. Somehow, by the end, I'm left on the very edge of tears for a bastard who thought threatening to eat kids was a funny joke, and someone who can slice through dozens of people at a time with a little quiver and a hypnotic whistle. (Akin to how the titular galaxy on display here can at times wow me with its beauty and vibrancy, the "Come a Little Bit Closer" sequence in terms of sheer structure and editing just has to be the "best" MCU action set piece, right? It has to be.) Chris Pratt gets to play catch with Kurt Russell, war-torn sisters do their best to reconcile their collective anguish, and a trash panda works through his own insecurities and propensity for mayhem to know that he is who he is, but that family for him and everyone else he knows are all out there; there for each other, among the cosmos. A somehow even better soundtrack than the first film, and also contains dare I say the only MCU full musical score I think about here and there. I have fond memories of it where I associate it with some fanfiction I wrote with a friend a good handful of years ago (Look, I have to imagine that a substantial bulk of people on Letterboxd had a fanfiction phase at some point.) and we would listen to the score for this a lot and comment on how much we were into it. Even that I think thematically fits into Vol. 2 well, where music itself is this lyrical and auditory mechanism that can surpass barriers of personality and language differences to unite. Even for those who can't sing or dance, I'm sure a lot of them wish they could, you know? In some ways, we're all unique. In other ways, we're just like everyone else, and what's so wrong with that? I am Groot.


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