It is fair to say that Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is basically the same movie as the first one, only more so. And given how fun the first Guardians of the Galaxy was, that is enough recommendation in itself.
What’s surprising is how deep the movie is. The first movie actually did a good job establishing the dynamics of each character, where the principals with the possible exception of Groot are all survivors of trauma: Rocket is a victim of animal experimentation, Gamora was forced to fight Nebula for the sake of Thanos, Peter Quill lost both his parents and Drax lost his entire family.
The new movie makes explicit this previously implicit theme. So while it brings up the “Sam and Diane” attraction between Quill (Chris Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the real emotional confession of the movie is between Gamora and her archrival Nebula. Drax (the hilariously deadpan Dave Bautista) develops an emotional range that he hadn’t had before, but can only reach his deepest sorrow second-hand through the empath Mantis (newcomer Pom Klementieff). And the main character, Quill, finally meets his long-lost father (Kurt Russell) whose plans for him present an emotional temptation he may not be able to resist. To say much more would spoil the movie. Except that the producers took the character concept of “Ego, the Living Planet” and ran as far as they could with it. And as others have pointed out, the best acted scene in this movie (other than the Nebula-Gamora confrontation) is between a guy in blue alien makeup and a CGI raccoon.
Which isn’t to say that Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 isn’t an action blockbuster movie with a budget bigger than the GNP of a developing nation, because it certainly is. But a lot of movies coming out this summer will make literal tons of money, and how many of them will be worth saving in your video collection years from now? Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is funny, exciting, and at one point, intensely moving. Hopefully Marvel Studios will be able to maintain this standard into their planned “Infinity War” phase of films.