Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the latest entry into the MCU and the third and final outing for the loveable ragtag group of heroes. Directed yet again by James Gunn, expectations for this third film were high and it does not disappoint. By far the best Marvel film since 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The film opens with the Guardians at their Headquarters on Knowhere, where Peter (Chris Pratt) drowns his sorrows while the rest of the gang tries to pick up after him. They’re attacked by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), a warrior from the Sovereign race, who overpowers the team and critically injures Rocket (Bradley Cooper). Nebula (Karen Gillan) stabs Adam and forces him to flee, while the gang’s attempts to save Rocket are scuppered by a killswitch that was embedded in him by Orgocorp, the company that experimented on him when he was younger.
As the Guardians leave Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Cosmo (Maria Bakalova) in charge of Knowhere, they travel to Orgocorp’s headquarters to find a code to override the killswitch, as Rocket recalls his past while still unconscious. As a baby, he was experimented on by the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), who sought to enhance animals in order to create higher lifeforms to live on an ideal planet. Rocket befriends other test subjects, including otter Lylla (Linda Cardellini), while the High Evolutionary uses Rocket’s intelligence to perfect his science.
Meanwhile, the Guardians call in Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and the Ravagers to help them infiltrate Orgocorp. Peter, Gamora, Nebula, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) head into the headquarters, while Sovereign high priestess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), son Adam and the High Evolutionary are hot on their tail, determined to capture Rocket at any cost.
Let’s be honest, Marvel films in phases 4 and 5 haven’t been great. With the exception of the phenomenal No Way Home, nothing else has quite lived up to expectations and the standards set by Spidey’s latest outing. With this in mind, I had grave concerns for Guardians Vol. 3, but with James Gunn at the helm, I needn’t have worried. After his successful requel for The Suicide Squad and the first two Guardians films, Gunn has yet again pulled off a cracking show and a great send-off to these beloved characters. It helps that the plot centres around Rocket and generally adorable and cute animals, and it swings from humour to genuinely heartwarming and tear-jerking moments with ease. My eyes certainly weren’t dry, and I dare anyone watching this to not feel moved and shed a tear or two at some point.
It isn’t all sadness, and as you’d expect with the Guardians there are a lot of quips, silly humour and snarky moments and many a time where I laughed out loud. I would say that it’s not quite as funny as the other films, but that’s because instead, we see the characters develop, learn and mature and become better people. Considering the Guardians are quite considerable in number, each character is still given their own chance to shine, even down to the likes of Cosmo and Kraglin, although it is without a doubt still Rocket’s show. I would argue that Will Poulter’s Warlock gets short shrift and isn’t featured anywhere near as much as he should be, which is a shame as when he is on screen he’s bloody hilarious. I did however love some of the cameos from Gunn’s alumni, including a number of The Suicide Squad cast and the ever-brilliant Nathan Fillion.
As you’d expect, the film itself looks and sounds great. It’s full of vivid colours, wacky locations and a killer, mostly rock, soundtrack that sounds incredible. Personally, I wasn’t too keen on the soundtrack moving into the 2000s towards the end, not because the music is bad but for me, it just didn’t seem quite as in keeping with the rest of the film. There are some great fight scenes on offer too, with a fantastic sequence featuring all of the Guardians towards the end that is beautifully shot and choreographed.
After a number of letdowns, it’s rather relieving to see the MCU back on form. While Guardians Vol. 3 doesn’t quite live up to No Way Home, it’s still pretty much perfect and a touching, entertaining and heartwarming finale for space’s finest heroes.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!