Starlord and team look out triumphantly. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3

Film Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Director: James Gunn

Marvel Studios
In Theaters: 05.05

The MCU has been on a noticeable downturn in quality and box office returns. After the embarrassing failure of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, there’s a lot of pressure for Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 to give us something to marvel at again.

The story finds our ragtag band of loveable misfits trying to make a new life for themselves on Knowhere, an interdimensional crossroads built on the severed head of a giant celestial being. Peter “Starlord” Quill (Chris Pratt) is still pining for Gamora (Zoë Saldaña), the love of his life who was killed by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and brought back to life in Avengers: Endgame in the form of an alternative universe version of herself who has no memory of their relationship. 

There may be bigger things to worry about than Quill’s love life, as Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is attacked and nearly killed by a super-powered stranger, Adam Warlock (Will Poulter, Detriot). The team must work together and embark on a dangerous mission to save the life of their friend, and the dark details of Rocket’s complicated past are about to come to light. 

The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise first came along in 2014, just as the Marvel formula was starting to feel a bit tedious. It was a rejuvenating breath of fresh energy and enthusiasm for the entire cinematic universe. The third entry in the franchise serves as the same kind of shot in the arm, putting characters and storytelling ahead of setting up the next big phase for Marvel as a whole. 

Writer/director James Gunn has a vision and love for this material that goes beyond selling merchandise, sequels and TV spin offs. Once again he’s exactly the person Marvel needed to set the standard for what these movies can be when they are made with love. Vol. 3 is also easily the darkest entry in the series, and it’s a bit draining on an emotional level. While this may make it less ideal for repeat viewing than its predecessors, I’m happy to take some upsetting elements if it means a story that actually keeps my attention for the full runtime. 

The ensemble has never been better. While it’s chic to be a Chris Pratt detractor these days, he digs deep here and displays all of the qualities that originally made him a star and then some. If he’s not the standout, it’s because the entire cast is sheer perfection. Cooper is not going to win his overdue Oscar for voicing a raccoon in a sequel, which is a shame because it’s one of the best performances and best characters ever brought to life in a comic book movie. The women of the ensemble, Saldaña, Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff, each have moments that rank among the best of their respective careers and, in particular, Gillan’s Nebula is second to none in making this movie soar to galactic heights.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 is a glorious return to form for the MCU and a satisfying final chapter to arguably the best and certainly the most unique series of films in Marvel history. It’s debatable whether this is a reassuring sign for the future of Marvel or its death knell as James Gunn preps for Superman: Legacy and his new role as head of the DCU. What’s not debatable is that Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 is a reminder of how good comic book movies can be when they are made with love and inspiration. –Patrick Gibbs

Read more reviews James Gunn superhero films:
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
Film Review: The Suicide Squad