"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
The Guardians of the Galaxy films have been a staple of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, bringing together a ragtag group of outlaws together to defeat those who vow to destroy their homes. The first two films contain some fan favorite moments, and have perhaps the most emotional character arcs and deaths in the entire MCU. After the events of the latest two "Avengers" films, the Guardians now find themselves settling down and trying to enjoy life together as a dysfunctional family at the start of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3". When one of their own's life hangs in the balance, they are forced to go on one last mission all together to save them in one of Marvel's best and most emotional films to date.
Their mission is to save Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), who is threatened by the man who made Rocket who he is, the vile High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). Together, the Guardians - consisting of Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Groot (Vin Diesel), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who is from the past after the events of "Endgame" and does not remember any of the events from the first two films - must travel the galaxy, looking for a way to save their friend and defeat the evil man who caused all of this.
At the same time, the viewer learns about Rocket's past, and the reason he is the way he is. Tortured and experimented on to create the perfect society, Rocket befriends Lylla (Linda Cardellini), Teefs (Asim Chaudhry), and Floor (Mikaela Hoover), who are all innocent animals that have been experimented on and tortured by the High Evolutionary and his associates. After unforeseen circumstances split Rocket up from his friends, he has to decide if he wants to go be with his original family, or stay with the family he has made over the past few years.
One thing that the viewer will notice right away when watching this picture is the heaviness lingering over the picture, causing a sense of dread for all of the main characters here. Knowing James Gunn's filmography and with the fact this is the final film for the Guardians, it seems quite inevitable that not all of our beloved characters will survive to the end. Gunn is able to make the viewer sit on the edge of their seat and engaged throughout the whole movie, and he doesn't let them go until the final end-credits scene plays.
However, it's easy to feel lost in this film due to how great it is and shows a real return to form for Marvel. It is no secret that their more recent films haven't really hit the mark in what audiences are expecting, delivering what feels like more filler movies than actual great content like what we received in Phase 3. Thankfully, putting Gunn back in charge of the film here, after a firing stint a few years ago, he delivers an instant classic, making it the best film since "Avengers: Endgame" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home".
The characters are witty and funnier than ever, and the story itself is very light-hearted at times. It moves very nicely from plot point to plot point, and really capitalizes on the chemistry each actor shares with one another. All of the Guardians do a fantastic job of being hilariously lovable, especially the relationship between Drax and Mantis. This is easily one of the funniest films in the MCU, and it really shows due to how much Gunn and these actors love these films and characters.
Yet, at the same time, it is surprisingly very emotional and heart-felt. From the interactions between the Guardians to all of the backstory scenes featuring Rocket and his old friends, they easily tug on the viewer's heartstrings and bring a tear to the eyes of every audience member. There is something about how Gunn crafts the story and the characters that makes this movie have such a heavy emotional note, ones we haven't seen before in Marvel movies, and I'm personally glad he was able to make this movie as heartfelt and heavy as it is funny.
When looking at the action sequences, this perhaps has some of the best fight choreography and shots in all of the MCU. It's in your face and glorious throughout the whole film, and the cinematography by Henry Braham. However, the standout here is easily the fight sequence to the song, "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" by The Beastie Boys. I won't describe it here so you can be surprised when you see it for the first time on the big screen, but it is easily one of the best fight scenes in any superhero movie.
Overall, I think this is a perfect conclusion to the original Guardians of the Galaxy, while offering hope we may see these characters later down the line in future projects. I applaud Gunn and the cast for everything they have done for the past three films (as well as their involvement in other MCU projects), and I think they wrapped up the story here with a nice bow and send them off on their merry way. While it's sad we'll never see the Guardians like this again, I'm at a point where I'm appreciative of where it ended, and ecstatic at what adventures these characters will go on next.