GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Elizabeth Debicki, Maria Bakalova, and Sylvester Stallone
Director: James Gunn
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 made me laugh, cry, then laugh again, and it features an exhilarating opening action sequence. This film had my heart. My mind, however, is a little less forgiving. The film relies heavily on Rocket (Sean Gunn/Bradley Cooper) flashbacks, which would have worked better as a prologue than being interspersed throughout, and as much as I enjoyed the opening scene, Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) isn’t needed, nor does he leave a lasting impression. Still, the trademarks are here, and it’s a fitting end to the trilogy, but not without some bumps along the way. That said, bring tissues.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 had a lot of heavy lifting to do, not just as a send off for the title misfits, but as a lifeline for a post-Endgame MCU; I’m delighted to say that it succeeds. Writer/director James Gunn proves he’s the perfect comic book director, not afraid to get silly while never losing sight of the characters, and he gives the team a fun adventure to go with their proper and beautiful finale. It’s a visual spectacle that, while not always structurally sound, features the MCU’s heaviest and most heartfelt moments. I’ll really miss these characters.
Though not flawless, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 works well enough to rank amongst the best post-Endgame MCU offerings. Everything you love about the Guardians franchise is here, but it’s overlong to the point that I felt the dreaded “superhero fatigue” mid-movie, Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) is completely wasted (he’s on screen for maybe 15 minutes), and the music feels shoehorned in at times even if the song themselves are fantastic. Still, it’s better than Vol. 2, but not as good as Vol. 1; however, the gap between Vol. 3 and Vol. 2 is closer than the gap between Vol. 3 and Vol. 1.
The concluding volume of what has been a mostly solid trilogy ends the only way it could: with plenty of heart and humor. Writer/director James Gunn manages to expertly close multiple narrative arcs while still delivering plenty of laughs along the way. Eschewing a sappy Hollywood ending for the series, the story instead provides a more realistic approach that feels true for each character, showing once again that Gunn is intimately familiar with them. A mix between great action and an incredibly dour plot (not to mention the MCU's best villain in years), Vol. 3 is emotionally taxing but ultimately satisfying.
O-O-H Child, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is filled to the brim with James Gunn trademarks. This series has to be the wackiest and most heartfelt MCU franchise ever…it’s certainly my favorite…but like its characters, this flick is a little bit of a mess. Don’t get me wrong, it’s certainly a fun and lovable mess, but a mess nonetheless. Honestly, its strongest attributes are the emotional beats throughout the film, and while overall I’m a big GOTG fan, I walked away with some mixed feelings. While you’ll surely laugh and smile, you’ll most likely ball your eyes out too, like I did. So, fair warning: bring tissues.
From the first scene, director James Gunn goes for straight gut-punches in Volume 3. Emotion is the heart of this finale, and while Volume 1 necessitated set-up and Volume 2 leaned too heavily on comedy, this trilogy capper excellently balances everything that makes Guardians great. The action, humor, music, and ensemble are all pitch perfect, but its biggest strength is the realization of each team member’s best version, with Rocket (Sean Gunn/Bradley Cooper) leading Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Nebula (Karen Gillan) as standouts. Everything you’ve ever wanted this franchise to be is beautifully fulfilled in this kinda perfect finale.
While the final film in James Gunn’s charmingly off-beat Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy certainly succeeds in what it sets out to do, calling it anything more than “very good” would feel hyperbolic. Many things about it work, such as the emotional core of the film, the high-tone villain performance from Chukwudi Iwuji, and – expectedly – the killer soundtrack. That said, the structure of the film does occasionally work against the flow of the story, and there are a few moments where the humor doesn’t land quite right. Still, it’s a fun time, and a fitting end to Gunn’s MCU days.