Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★

Loved it probably even more than the original. Even my few complaints have caveats. The soft reset of Rocket and Star-Lord's relationship feels a bit cheap as a way to separate the group, but it's part and parcel of the great way the movie takes for granted some deeper character development that took place after Vol. 1 (e.g. the great moment where Peter hates "that story" and Gamora loves "that story"). The exposition dump on Ego's planet was a real slog, but it allowed for the villain to be categorically better than Blue-Face McGee from Vol. 1. Groot is a bit sidelined, but his few moments are all fantastic.

The point is that even if some of the execution occasionally gets a little overstuffed or messy (some of the action scenes feel almost as formless as Age of Ultron), the movie has a fantastic focus on character that allows Yondu to register in a way that he didn't before (just think of his conversation with Rocket or his moment of silence in the brothel) and allows Nebula to register in a way that she didn't before (her conflict even makes Gamora into so much more than just a love interest for Peter) and generally just makes everyone so lovable. One of the few great blockbusters which goes big but brings everything back to a small moment of human emotion.

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