The day I saw Guardians of the Galaxy in theaters with my dad was special for me. I knew very little of the team outside of a character or two. And I remember that I was having a REALLY bad day, and I was sure that the movie wouldn’t fix that. Instead, the film became one of my favorite movies ever, and I felt motivated to live out my dreams with my own comics and characters so that maybe, one day, I could do what James Gunn did and make you believe in a “Bunch of A-Holes” that you had no connection to before. As my Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Review will show, James Gunn still knows how to make these characters shine…even if he does get in his own way at times.
One of the things I want to immediately point out about this movie is that James Gunn knew the perfect ways to tie in the past two movies, the Christmas Special and the Avengers appearances, together to make it seem like a cohesive thing. Unlike certain other Marvel movies I’ve reviewed in the last year, this one honestly feels like the next chapter in their saga. Things carried over from one story to the next, and there were plenty of references, cameos, and stories built up through these “episodes” that made this one feel like the capper that James Gunn said it would be. So let’s get it started via the “focus” of the story…Rocket.
We all knew that through this film, we’d finally learn the MCU origin of Rocket, and I have to say, this was easily the strongest part of the film. Not that there weren’t other strong parts, but this movie WILL get a positive score. But I’m saying that this is the storyline that will stick with people the most, and it’s both incredibly dramatic and emotional. We see the experiments conducted on him by the High Evolutionary and the friends he makes via his fellow test subjects like Lila.
Even with Rocket lies dormant in a coma for most of the movie, his presence was felt through flashbacks and the way the other members of this team were trying everything they could to save him. So when he did wake up and get his many great moments in the final act, they felt earned. Not the least of which was when he saves a litter of raccoons and finally admits that his name is “Rocket Raccoon.” That was a really great moment I couldn’t help but cheer over.
To that end, I felt that the High Evolutionary was a great villain to end things with. He’s honestly a mix of many villains we’ve seen in the MCU, but the way that he was presented and acted by Chukwudi Iwuji was incredible. He’s a being so driven by his goals and the desire for perfection that anything below his standard is worthless, and anyone trying to prevent his goal is expendable. He even blows up his crew at one point because they try to mutiny to save everyone else on the ship, and he wouldn’t have it. Plus, the scenes with him and Rocket throughout their “timeline” helped enforce the best parts of the story. While the MCU still has a “dying villain problem,” this one was meaningful in the right way.
That’s not to say that the other Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t have their time to shine. Each member had their moments, and many of them felt earned. Heck, even Kraglin and Cosmo had a little story that had a great payoff! I was also surprised by Nebula (who has easily become one of the best characters from the saga), who had many roles to play (for better and for worse) in this movie and had plenty of tricks to show off.
While I don’t want to skip to the end too much, I must say that Mantis had arguably one of the best sendoffs for the team when she decided to go see the universe, not because she wanted to, but because she needed to. She was trying to do things that SHE needed to do instead of following the wills of others. For you Game of Thrones fans, this is kind of what Arya Stark’s ending was like…but Mantis actually did it in a way that was GOOD…and felt like a true capper on her journey since her appearance in the sequel.
Another thing that really shined in here was the setpieces and action scenes. James Gunn has never been afraid to go big, colorful, and clever with how he does things with his worlds and action beats, and this film is no different. They not only have big moments with so much action that it’ll make your jaw drop. But they also do their own version of the “hallway fight scene” that was really fun, and showcase Groot in numerous ways that will surprise you. Seriously, the action scenes in the movie need to be seen to be believed.
Oh, and the soundtrack is great, and no one knows how to put the right song in films quite like James Gunn.
…it wouldn’t be a Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Review without some drawbacks…and there are a few that do hold it back from stacking up against the better parts of the GOTG saga. The first one is with the lady in the picture above…Gamora. As the team reiterates early on, the Gamora we have now is the one from right before she meets Quill and the rest of the GOTG. This means she never fell in love with Quill and helped save the galaxy many times over. That’s fine. However, how she acted throughout much of the movie didn’t line up with how she was in the first movie.
For example, a key thing throughout this film was Gamora being willing to kill everyone (innocent or not) just to get what she wanted and Quill talking her off the ledge. But in the first film…she had plenty of chances to kill Quill and the other GOTG but refused to prove that she wasn’t like her father, Thanos. So…what happened to make her such a brute? Then, despite all her words, she very easily reverted back to how Gamora was in the other films. it was very confusing. But, thankfully, they didn’t force Peter and her back together, and they did have a nice “parting.”
Then, there was the comedy. James Gunn has always had a very particular brand of comedy, and while I adored it in the first GOTG movie, by this point (with multiple movies and his DC Comics stuff), it’s gotten rather grating and taxing. I still don’t get how Drax went from the “Destroyer” in the first movie to the idiot we see now. And other jokes really fell flat. I was in a semi-packed theater, and I honestly don’t think I heard them laugh more than once.
It also didn’t help that some scenes did feel forced or made no sense. There’s an entire scene between Nebula, Mantis, and Drax that was just Nebula raging against the machine for no reason, only for Mantis to stand up to her…by insulting Drax in a way that was “positive” only for her to erase Drax’s memory about it…so…what was the point of it?
But easily…the biggest flaw in this movie was…
Yep. It’s Adam Warlock. The character that was teased in not one but TWO previous movies finally showed up, and…wow, James Gunn really turned him into something unrecognizable. His entrance into the movie was straight-fire. But then…we learn he’s basically a man-child who doesn’t understand anything outside of listening to his “mother,” and he serves no real purpose for most of the movie…until he becomes the Deus Ex Machina that saves Quill in a key moment. Warlock is a huge figure in Marvel Comics and even helped stop Thanos in the original Infinity Saga that inspired the MCU’s first “arc.” But you wouldn’t see that based on how he was portrayed in the film.
Finally, there were MANY indications by James Gunn and the cast that this ending for the Guardians Of The Galaxy would result in deaths, especially since many actors like Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldana said they were done playing the characters after this. But…none of them died. Even doing a huge “fakeout” that would’ve rang so hollow if it had gone down like it did…only to be undone by Adam Warlock. The only reason I’m not tripping over the ending as a whole is that there was something to be said about the happiness that the GOTG had with the endings they each got. Plus, the dancing scene at the end felt like a much-deserved reward for all that they’d done.
In the end, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 was the ending that fans needed in many ways. They got to see their “Bunch Of A-Holes” one last time on one last great adventure. This was the group that should’ve never been seen in live-action, and now it’s the group that we’re all going to be sad to see go.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Review
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 gave Star-Lord and the rest of the crew a fun last adventure to call their own. It didn’t hit the highs of the first movie, but when it packed a punch, you definitely felt it.