Two major spoilers below. Be warned.
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 fixes a lot of issues I had with the first movie. Now that the origin story is out of the way, we can focus more on character development for more of the characters.
I like that Gamora has more to do beyond being the pretty tsundere arm candy for Peter, and that the nature of her relationship with Nebula is more fleshed out. I like that Nebula herself is made more “human,” giving a better explanation for her cold exterior and her desire for vengeance against both Gamora and Thanos. I like that Rocket has to come to terms with being a raging asshole. I even like that Yondu, a character that I barely registered or cared about in Movie 1, got a backstory that was just shallow enough to not take up too much time, but just deep enough that I actually really started to like him, and I actually cried when he sacrificed himself in the end.
I even like that the aliens look by-and-large more convincing this time around. They seem a lot less like humans in cheap body paint, because now they have expense-looking body paint. Probably a bigger budget for smaller-scale CG effects.
The only thing I like better about Guardians of the Galaxy (the first one) is the oldies playlist. This time around, it wasn’t quite as catchy and epic, but it was still pretty good. The regular soundtrack fit the scenes they were set to…I know that seems pretty basic and obvious, but is actually more commonly screwed up than you would think. It’s less deserving of special mention and more like showing up to work on time every day; expected, but appreciated, especially when others around you don’t do so.
Most of the jokes seem to come from Drax and his usual lacking comprehension of nuance and tact, but they always hit home runs. I can’t think of a single joke in the movie that fell flat or otherwise went unnoticed, and it was all-around a good time at the movies. It’s still not the deepest masterpiece of storytelling, of course (the villain’s name is Ego, for Pete’s sake!), but it’s good fun that doesn’t spend a lot of time talking down to its audience, and I really appreciate that. I like not having to go in expecting high art, but neither expecting cheap, boring, or insulting crap, and I walk away perfectly satisfied. It’s almost like watching a more serious Deadpool, which is great as long as the comedy and dramatic tones aren’t constantly at odds with each other.
Go see it. It’s really fun.
*None of the images in this post belong to me.