Years after defeating Thanos alongside the Avengers, the Guardians embark on an uncertain adventure to save one of their own from a monumental threat, meeting old and new friends and foes along the way.
It’s been almost a decade since James Gunn’s first Guardians changed the game for superhero movies — and so many copycats or inspirations have come to the mainstream since, or attempted to. But the camaraderie of the titular team has not gotten old, even if it’s their sixth overall appearance in the MCU, and likely their last. The goofy quirks of Gunn’s humor, poking fun at the mistfit-like attitudes of the characters, or his way of giving the outcasts a traumatic backstory and a chance to grow, breathe life and soul into nearly every frame of Vol. 3. It’s not necessarily the best of the three, but it is the most visually dynamic, with engaging settings and interesting close-ups or moving shots during the actions. Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista continue to deliver in the roles that have come to define their career and help shape their A-lister status, but it’s Karen Gillan and especially Pom Klementieff who get to really grow and steal the screen from them. Rocket is also given a heavy storyline that is as tear-jerking as it is revelatory for his character. Though Chukwudi Iwuji’s villain is very over-the-top, he’s also entertaining and works for the film’s purpose. However, the inclusion of Gamora’s alternate version from an Endgame timeline feels like the storyline that didn’t add too much to the film, and her original incarnation’s death in Infinity War still feels best left untouched as it hangs weirdly over her appearance here. Here, her character is more to serve Peter Quill’s arc or simply an excuse to have the awesome Zoë Saldaña around. However, Will Poulter’s presence is Adam Warlock suffer here despite the movie’s already long (yet breezy and earned) 150-minute runtime — though he’s built up as a threat to interact with the Guardians and make his own decisions, he’s left as a very basic side character who cracks a few jokes. The character deserved an awful lot better than he got, especially due to the great work Poulter does do with what he’s given, it’s just a shame his and Ayesha’s story set up from the post-credits scene of Vol. 2 gets the bare minimum payoff. In addition, a notable standout is Oscar nominee Maria Bakalova as the voice of Cosmo the Spacedog, a very entertaining critter who gets her deserved limelight.
The soundtrack in the last two films was dominant and diverse, practically its own character within the film and a driving force for Quill’s arc. The soundtrack in this movie definitely hits less hard and may have a few too similar songs, but it’s made up for with a few amazing needle drops that set the tone and immerse you in the moment. Most of all, the character’s dynamics are all so beautiful and the building of the action is the backbone of the film, rooted in the bond of this team that has strengthened and matured over a few films. Even if the first film is a beast that’s only rivaled by a few other Marvel movies for the title of the studio’s best film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has undeniable charm and is also one of the most emotional MCU films across all the phases. It’s one of their better post-Endgame works and a great big-screen watch for the visuals, heart, and cast of characters.