It’s hard to believe it has been almost ten years since writer and director James Gunn introduced his Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 to the MCU and the rest of the world. With what is set to be his final chapter of their story in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the question that’s been looming over this franchise since he was fired from it in 2018 and then brought back on is whether he could stick the landing. Fans of both the characters and Gunn will be pleased to know that he closes the trilogy on a high note, but also features some of the best moments the MCU has offered. 

The Guardians of the Galaxy — consisting of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Groot (Vin Diesel), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Kraglin (Sean Gunn) — have created a peaceful city on Knowhere when enemies from their past resurface. An initial attack leaves one of the members in critical condition, sending the remaining Guardians on a life-or-death mission that, if they fail, could forever alter their team. 

Rocket has always been a highlight of the franchise. The humor, attitude, and empathy that Cooper’s voice acting and body language make him a character that’s easy to love. Gunn really brings Rocket to the center of the story in Vol 3, and it instantly hooked me in. The opening sequence reminds the audience how great Gunn is with his needle drops, as the audience is reintroduced to the team. Rocket is in possession of Quill’s Zune, which becomes a point of conflict towards the end of the sequence. It seems Quill is having a hard time moving on from Gamora, and it is definitely impacting the team. 

Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Besides the music, all the various elements associated with Gunn’s style are present in this film. He walks the fine line of tones that involve big laughs, big emotion, and some incredible action with touches of horror. There are a few action sequences throughout the film, but the third act big battle is absolutely bonkers to watch. As is a trope with team films, there are lots of moments where the team has to split into smaller segments. Those moments all feel organic and offer a lot for each character to do. The overall relationships in the film and the character growth are extremely satisfying by the film’s conclusion. All of it really comes to fruition during that epic final battle, making it all the more satisfying. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is everything I wanted it to be. Even with the two-and-a-half-hour runtime, it never drags, and yet it allows characters to breathe. Unlike many of the other MCU films in the last few phases, this one feels almost completely self-contained. Gunn is not concerned with any other happenings in the current run and focuses on concluding the story he started almost a decade ago. Even the post-credit scenes focus solely on the Guardians. It was refreshing to not have to have seen every TV show or movie to appreciate the one about this dysfunctional family. 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will be in theaters everywhere starting May 5. 

Rating: Must See

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