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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is like being punched in the face with fun while being swiftly kicked in the feels. James Gunn’s sequel takes everything you loved about the first movie, and builds upon that by adding some heavy emotional beats and more character moments.

While not stated in the movie, Vol. 2 is set only a few months after the first film. So while this MCU movie is still set back in 2014 before all the big events that followed, it doesn’t really matter as it’s a self contained Guardians adventure that doesn’t connect to the larger MCU outside one Infinity Stone mention to tie back to the first movie and some Thanos name-drops by his daughters. The Guardians have been saving the Galaxy for money and fun, and that’s where the movie picks up.

With the characters introduced in the first movie, and with the passage of time, the family has began to gel and we get more of each character. Each Guardian gets their time to shine. If you liked Drax’s brand of humor, there’s a lot more here. Rocket fans will be in heaven with this movie as we get a lot more with him, and he has one line towards the end that’s one of the biggest emotional gut-punches in the movie. Even while Peter and his father are a big focus the rest of the team aren’t ignored.

Speaking of Peter’s father, when they announced Ego the Living Planet would be that character in the movie Marvel fans wondered how that’d work. Gunn does a great job explaining it, while making a minor change to what Ego actually is in the MCU, yet we still get to see a comic book accurate Ego in the movie. That’s right, in a world where Fox turned Galactus into a flarking cloud, Marvel puts Ego the Living Planet on the big screen…face and all. Just the nature of Ego being a planet gives the movie a much bigger feel than the first, and that’s pretty much the story for the whole thing.

Some have complained that the movie doesn’t feel as fresh as the original, and well it’s a sequel. We’ve seen these characters before and have had three years to watch the first one over and over. But the movie makes up for that with its big emotional punches. There’s a lot more feels here than in the original, with the third act being just amazing. The last fifteen minutes or so of the movie left many people in my screening sniffling. Yet even in those heavy moments, Gunn manages to nudge out laughs.

If the first Guardians was Marvel dipping its toes in the pool of craziness that Marvel Cosmic can offer, Vol. 2 is them taking a giant cannonball into that pool. You see a comic accurate Ego the Living planet, and another super major Marvel Cosmic race makes a cameo in the movie. What this movie did for Marvel Cosmic on the big screen bodes very well for Captain Marvel and Vol. 3.

Just as the movie is pretty self contained and doesn’t try to set up Infinity War, the post-credits scenes don’t do anything other than make you laugh and drop some hints as to who we’ll see in action in Vol. 3. But there is a pretty awesome Easter Egg during the credits scroll. If you pay attention and look closely, there’s a surprise Goldblum to spot. As his character is Marvel Cosmic, it fits. It’s not setting up Thor: Ragnarok in any way, it’s just a fun thing to keep an eye out for.

I really love the original Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a movie I can watch any time and still enjoy from beginning to end. Vol. 2 doesn’t diminish that in any way. It builds on the original and is a movie that’s just bigger and better. The only bad thing I can say about it is that I have to wait another week to see it again, and then again, and again.

It’s very safe to say if you loved the first movie you’ll really love this one.

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