Action Adventure

Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ is an Emotional and Action-Packed Farewell to the MCU’s Most Out-of-this-World Superheroes

May 1, 2023Ben MK

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a vast place that allows for an infinite multitude of storytelling possibilities. From the awe-inspiring acrobatics of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to the mystical mayhem conjured up by the sorcerer Dr. Strange, what began as an idea has grown into a multiverse of heroes and villains the likes of which no moviegoer could have ever imagined. As far as the MCU's most out-of-this-world characters are concerned, however, it's the Guardians of the Galaxy that reign supreme. And in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, director James Gunn is bringing the Guardians' story to a close, as the team embarks on one final adventure — not to save the galaxy, but to save one of their own.

Following on the heels of Avengers: Endgame, Thor: Love and Thunder and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Vol. 3 finds the tight-knit group of intergalactic rogues struggling to get back to what they once were. Despite adding former nemesis Nebula (Karen Gillan), former Ravager Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and telepathic canine Cosmo the Spacedog (Maria Bakalova) to their roster, the death of Gamora (Zoe Saldana) at the hands of Thanos has left a hole in their hearts that each member has been trying to fill differently. Whether it's putting the finishing touches on their new Knowhere-based headquarters or drinking themselves into a stupor, moving on after the loss of their friend and teammate hasn't been easy, especially with an angry, alternate version of Gamora not wanting anything to do with them and having joined up with the Ravagers instead. However, when an attack by a genetically engineered super-being by the name of Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) leaves the team bloodied and bruised, and leaves Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) critically injured, it imbues the Guardians with renewed purpose, as they must race to prevent the demise of their furry compatriot.

To do so, they'll have to uncover the truth about Rocket's past by travelling across the universe and infiltrating the heavily guarded facilities of Orgocorp, a galaxy-spanning biogenetics conglomerate that considers Rocket's cybernetic implants proprietary technology. What they don't anticipate, though, is that they'll also have to face off against the powerful mad scientist who created Rocket, a hyper-intelligent and extremely megalomaniacal being called the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), who, even after all these years, still has plans for what he considers his greatest and most unique masterpiece. Obsessed with perfecting the cosmos, the High Evolutionary has personally overseen the creation of countless new species and civilizations all across the galaxy. But despite all of his unfathomable achievements, there's one crucial mystery that has eluded him — and the key to unlocking it lies within Rocket's brain. Will Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Nebula be able to outsmart and outgun this ruthless and persistent new foe?

With a script penned by Gunn himself, this third installment manages to accomplish what few other Hollywood threequels have done — conclude the trilogy in a meaningful and entertaining way that not only honors its characters and their nearly-decade-long journey, but also without being beholden to the tried-and-true formula that made its predecessors such phenomenal successes. Make no mistake, everything audiences know and love about the Guardians is here, from the retro-themed needle drops and the obligatory slow-motion team walk set against a classic rock anthem to the zany, offbeat humor and spectacular, spacefaring action. At the same time, however, Gunn and company aren't afraid to take the franchise into darker territory as well. And although the movie as a whole doesn't take itself too seriously, that doesn't make some scenes any less gut-wrenching or emotionally hard-hitting, especially for animal lovers or viewers with close pet relationships.

Throw in a trip to Counter-Earth, where instead of humans the entire planet's population is comprised of humanoid animals that range from a suburban family of bats to an octopus that sells meth, and it's clear that Marvel Studios isn't holding anything back when it comes to making this a finale to remember. What makes the result so genuinely special, however, is the incredible amount of heart that's at its core. After all, superhero blockbusters are a dime a dozen these days, and the genre has become so saturated with franchises that it can be hard to differentiate one from the other. That said, it's not often that a superhero film comes along that's capable of moving moviegoers to tears. And for fans of the MCU, that makes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 a must-see.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 releases May 5th, 2023 from Walt Disney Studios. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, strong language, suggestive/drug references and thematic elements. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 30 min.

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