Finally, a better-than-average MCU film! It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve been able to say that.
Once again telling the galactic tale of the dysfunctional cosmic team consisting of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and an alternate post-Avengers: Endgame version of Gamora, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 acts as the last hurrah for a group of characters fans have grown to know and love over the years and MCU appearances. Following the team as they try to save Rocket’s life after a particularly harrowing incident reveals that his creator, the animal-abusing perfectionist known as the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), has hardwired Rocket to die, the Guardians soon set off into the forever sky to defeat a foe they aren’t all that prepared to face. Pursued by the child-like but nigh-omnipotent member of the Sovereign race known as Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), Star-Lord and crew are in a race against the clock to save their teammate, stop the High Evolutionary, and if time permits, rock out to some choice musical tracks!
What a bittersweet way to end one of the better MCU trilogies in an ongoing movie saga that’s been struggling lately. Full of far more emotional weight, character development, meaningful scenes, an actual fleshed-out villain, and fewer superhero-y tropes than ever before, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, for the most part, knows what movie it wants and needs to be, despite stumbling a few times along that way.
Sprinkled with more than a few flashbacks that fill in Rocket’s tragic origin as well as a healthy dose of scenes featuring each member of the team finding ways to deal with their trauma, grow as people and as friends, and kick ass at the same time, this is very much a movie that feels like a therapy session for heroes that desperately need it, something that’s as refreshing as it is heavy to sit through. But for all the great ideas and long-time-coming character moments (the final scene of this trilogy was quite simply the best and only way to close the book on these heroes as far as I’m concerned), this one is filled with more than its fair share of underwhelming elements. From the shoe-horned and unnecessary nature of the Adam Warlock character to the weird pacing of the film as a result of Rocket’s flashbacks (which are inserted pretty much wherever the fuck throughout the movie) to the lack of present-day Rocket (something that feels quite strange considering Rocket barely interacts with any members of the Guardians, a bummer considering they’ll probably never be seen together onscreen again) to more than a few cringe moments and odd story decisions, the overall narrative weirdly missed where it should have hit, yet by the time the credits rolled, it was still able to coast along on the back of a ragtag band of heroes that are just plain fun to be around.
So while this one wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for when it came to some of the story beats and overall structure of the script, the character work, emotional stakes, and general filmmaking were exactly what they should have been to help finish off this trilogy on a high note, making Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 a mixed bag that thankfully does way more good than bad. Oh, and for the record and after seeing this one, James Gunn’s Superman movie will be perfectly fine.