Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Review: An MCU Return to Form

All Marvel needed to make Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 work was a loaded Gunn. MCU fans may remember when Disney removed writer/director James Gunn from the superhero film after the resurfacing of his controversial tweets. However, after a few months, Gunn was brought back on board, allowing him to tell one last story with the galaxy’s most iconic superhero team of misfits. The third and final film in the Guardians trilogy features an ensemble cast of heroes going on one more adventure to save one of their own in a thrilling, hilarious tale that closes out the series in an epic fashion.

The first two movies in this trilogy established quite a voice for these films. When you walk into a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, you will get some outrageous comedic banter, a bunch of off-beat characters, and some perfectly timed needle drops to fill up the soundtrack with songs that will land in your next mixtape. Gunn knows what you’re looking for too. He’s taken some big swings with other more adult superhero films like The Suicide Squad and Super, but he brings every bit of his established PG-13 voice (this time with the MCU’s first F-bomb) to the movie and retains his wild, brash sense of humor.

Nobody can make Guardians like Gunn. He holds this movie together in a film that decides to take a darker tone. The first two movies were funny, entertaining action movies with a few moments of emotion. But your first hint that this movie will go down a slightly different path comes in the opening credits. While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 features baby Groot dancing to Mr. Blue Sky as the Guardians battle behind him, this movie’s opening credits follow Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) as he sings along to Radiohead’s “Creep.”

In the opening act, the Guardians are attacked by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), an infinitely powerful being who leaves Rocket mortally wounded. The Guardians must set out to save him in a film that regularly flashes back to Rocket’s origin story. We’ve gotten hints of it before, but this movie offers a glimpse at how tragic it was. He was created by the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), a mad scientist who creates hybrid creatures in pursuit of perfecting the universe and those that inhabit it. Although Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) is still the protagonist, the movie centers itself around Rocket, their goal to save him, and how the enemy they fight in this movie ties into Rocket’s past.

GOTG Vol. 3 Review: A Fitting End

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a strong ending to the trilogy. It brings us back into this colorful world for a story filled with some of the funniest scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as the most gut-wrenching. The humor primarily works well in the movie due to how it organically fits into the situations the characters are in. It feels natural, and every character gets their time in the limelight. The biggest surprise is Nebula (Karen Gillan) getting to have a few humorous moments, especially after her very dramatic introduction into the MCU. Cosmo the Spacedog has a supporting role in this movie after previously making cameos in the first two. The decision to cast Oscar-nominated actor Maria Bakalova in the role was perfect. It’s not the voice or accent you would expect to come out of this Labrador, but it is hilarious.

But all of our Guardians are the key to making this movie work. Chris Pratt is excellent again as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, and he knows the character like the back of his hand. Zoe Saldaña is back as Gamora, the alternate version from Avengers: Endgame who does not remember her experiences with Peter. There is some drama between them, but the movie doesn’t always push their relationship far enough. They have some excellent moments, but Gamora primarily serves the story rather than herself and her personal journey. Dave Bautista’s last outing as Drax is hilarious, as is Pom Klementieff as Mantis.

James Gunn Talks GotG 3 F-Word Usage, Teases MCU Returns

Iwuji portrays the High Evolutionary, the strongest villain in the trilogy. His performance is breathtaking, as his loud, booming voice makes him a threat every time he enters a room. The High Evolutionary’s lack of remorse and cruel actions prevent him from being a sympathetic villain. Rather, he is a person who plays God, setting a clear goal without caring how many die in the process. Every character, including Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Adam Warlock, gets their shining moments in the movie. However, Cooper gives his best performance in the MCU as Rocket, taking a role that began in 2014 as a hilarious loudmouthed sidekick to a tragic role filled with pathos.

Although the pacing doesn’t always work, and it’s a little inconsistent throughout, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 sticks the landing. It’s dark, emotional, and funny, and the final act offers an astounding amount of spectacle. There is a hallway fight scene filmed entirely in one take that may be one of the best action scenes in the MCU, as it gives every Guardian time to shine and allows this send-off to feel meaningful. The movie delivers everything you would expect from a Guardians movie. Unlike its Marvel predecessor Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, a film that felt like it was directed by a committee to set up more projects, this movie only wants to conclude the stories of this beloved family. It has that MCU magic back and is proof that all is right when you’ve got yourself a Gunn.

SCORE: 8/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 8 equals to “Great.” While there are a few minor issues, this score means that the art succeeds at its goal and leaves a memorable impact.

Disclosure: ComingSoon attended a press screening for our Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 reviews.

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