Ever since the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie played on TV one evening, the cast of characters it introduced has been stuck in my brain and heart. Despite already being quite the Marvel-fan, most of my knowledge of the comics (and films around the MCU at that point) revolved around Spider-Man and the Avengers. Compared to those stories however, Guardians felt fresh and resonated with me on a different level. When Vol. 2 came out I was seated on day one (and since then have been for every MCU-project), and it remains one of my most memorable theater-experiences ever.
This review is free from spoilers of everything outside of the two trailers, and even then I’ve done my best to keep it as vague as possible.
In the years since then a lot has happened, both in my personal life as behind-the-scenes of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’s production. James Gunn was of course fired at one point, but thankfully got to come back to finish his trilogy. The release of this movie marks the end of a 10 year journey for a large portion of the cast and crew, and (while comparatively insignificant) one that started for me on the couch those years ago.
Fly away together, one last time
It’s not really been made a secret that this movie is the end of the Guardians as we know them. James Gunn won’t be returning to make any future stories about them considering he’s now fully committed to creating a new DC universe, but he made sure that this final installment became something special. The director had also been pretty vocal about how he always considered Rocket Raccoon the emotional core of the movies, almost like a ‘secret’ protagonist. In that regard Volume 3 puts the furry Guardian in the spotlight a lot more, as we learn about his heart-wrenching past.
The Guardians films have always had quite emotional moments mixed in with the mostly lighthearted and fun space-opera tone. This new installment does it again, albeit a lot more than the previous two movies. The air of finality is noticeable from the beginning, which definitely sets a slightly more somber tone but fits with the themes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 presents. That’s not to say it’s devoid of all humour and happiness though. The comedy and bickering you’re used to from these characters is still there, so whether you’re a fan of Gunn’s sense of humour or not, you basically know what to expect.
Like music to all the senses
Ever since the first film released in 2014 the Awesome Mixtapes of music have been associated with the Guardians of the Galaxy. In Volume 3, Gunn once again delivers on a number of catchy tracks that not just help us get into the heads of the characters, but also awesome supports to establishing- and fight-scenes. It did make it a bit noticeable that the regular score felt a little underused, especially the epic Guardians of the Galaxy theme, but it’s still there.
The movie is also just really nice to look at. Sets are well-realized and the locations we visit are unique and interesting. The fight-scenes as well stuck out to me, especially a very well-crafted long-take one. Volume 3 doesn’t offer as much world-building to the overall MCU as the previous two movies, but personally I didn’t mind much considering the story was already quite packed to begin with. Maybe if you haven’t watched the Holiday Special from last year you’ll be a little confused, but mostly everything is explained in the movie itself.
Knowhere to go, or is there?
One of the few missteps I find to be worth mentioning is the inclusion of Adam Warlock. I don’t have an issue with the character himself or how he’s presented, just that after his initial introduction he felt a bit out of place from the rest of the movie. I’m interested to see him in future MCU-projects, but his inclusion here felt a bit clunky. As I mentioned earlier the movie is a bit packed with plotlines, but it juggled them nicely as I was able to follow all of them quite well.
Every member of the Guardians gets their time to shine here, which is nice for the finale. The characters have always been loveable for their flaws, and all of them learn something or otherwise get an important moment all to themselves. And last but not least, the villain of Volume 3 is so incredibly hate-able for his repulsive actions but also so delightfully villainous that it made him quite compelling to watch.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 manages to cap off an incredible journey that’s been in the making for 10 years now, and does so brilliantly. From visuals and music to story, all of it is a clear passion-project from James Gunn and everyone involved. I would say this is my favourite of the MCU trilogies, and while I’m sad to have to say goodbye to these characters, I’ve loved this ride, and will look back on it fondly.
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