Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ★★★★½

Plot takes a backseat to character and emotion in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. For better or for worse, it's whisked for pretty much the entire film, leading to a film more similar to Magic Mike XXL or Everybody Wants Some!! that focuses a lot more on these characters coming into themselves, spending time with each other, and uncovering the theme central to the film: family isn't always biological.

The Guardians all have baggage they need to deal with: Peter has abandonment issues and is still very much not over his mother's death, Gamora and Nebula are victims of abuse, Drax is one of loss, Mantis is socially inept, Baby Groot has pretty much had his mind (including his intelligence) wiped, and Rocket and Yondu have self confidence issues (the latter of which leads to some of the strongest scenes in the film).

Each one of these characters have to deal with their problems in one way or another before they can come together to once again save the galaxy. The first two acts establish these issues and the characters' suffering in a way necessary to make the third act as strong and emotional as it is.

Gunn has seemingly heard our complaints about the Marvel Cinematic Universe's visuals because the muted wet concrete color grading and the bland cinematography of all 14 films before it have vanished. Not only is Vol. 2 the most colorful MCU film, but those colors are allowed the chance to shine thanks to the brand new vivid color grading. Henry Braham shoots the hell out of this, making it actually look like a movie (and a damn good looking one at that) instead of a TV show. Here's to hoping Feige sticks with these changes.

Gunn also breaks another longstanding negative Marvel tradition, but telling you which would probably ruin it.

And who would've thought we needed more Sean Gunn? I certainly didn't...

If it weren't for the Sovereigns, this would be a five star film.

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