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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) Review

A Weirdly Satisfying Sendoff


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the strangest film I’ve seen this year and I know I’m going to be thinking about some of those visuals for several days. I’m seeing it again later this week which is a good thing as I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. The action is well done and it has some laughs but this is a far darker and weirder tale than anything we’ve seen before in the MCU.

Plot: Still reeling from the loss of Gamora, Peter Quill must rally his team to defend the universe and protect one of their own. If the mission is not completely successful, it could possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.

Review: I remember when I first heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy before it was released in 2014 I thought it looked like the most ridiculous idea and that it would be terrible. Then I actually went to see it and it became one of my favourite MCU films; the sequel was elevated by the addition of Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone but it just didn’t quite have the rewatchability of the first film. I’ve heard mixed reviews for this third and potentially final entry in the franchise and after a few not-so-great entries in Phase IV I was hoping this would put Marvel back on top again.

As much as I sort of enjoyed this movie, I wasn’t expecting it to be as dark and disturbing as it was. I don’t have a problem with these things normally but this is a very different beast from the first two films so if you’re expecting lots of silly comedy and banter you may be in for a surprise. Vol. 3 certainly does have plenty of humour (which doesn’t always land) but we finally find out Rocket’s backstory and there are some really messed up images in this film. I’m an animal lover so I hate seeing cruelty to animals (even if they are CG) and that’s one of the main storylines of this film.

The villain known as The High Evolutionary (played to perfection by Chukwudi Iwuji) is probably the most hateful MCU villain I’ve ever seen. He sees creatures as “imperfect” and thinks he can perfect them, but he is an absolute monster. Frankly he deserved a Universal Soldier style comeuppance, so I was disappointed by how his story ended.

I found myself emotionally engaged with this story more so than many Marvel movies because I had grown to love these characters and I could see other people in the audience tearing up at various points.

Sylvester Stallone returns in this movie but he’s only in 2 scenes and it’s more of an extended cameo than anything, but his mere presence makes everything better.

It’s not all doom and gloom however, as Dave Bautista has some of the best lines as always and there are plentiful action scenes with a highlight being the whole crew walking down a corridor to The Beastie Boys while taking out all comers. The visual effects are also the best we’ve seen from Marvel for some time and I think James Gunn is a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the look of his films. I’m not sure I really “get” him as a filmmaker as his films can be very strange and a lot of his humour is lost on me. He still has great taste in music though so we get the usual choice of quality tunes during a lot of the set-pieces however, I do sometimes find the tonal changes a little jarring.

As much as I like him Will Poulter felt a little unnecessary as Adam Warlock and was just there to cause some chaos at first then became comic relief as the story went on. The movie still manages to shock as well as entertain and any film that tries something new should be lauded and this is unlike any movie I’ve seen before.

Overall, I need to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 again to really make a decision about how I feel about it. It is the most engaged I’ve been with a Marvel film since Endgame and No Way Home with a story that will tug at the heartstrings of the most hardened cynic. It may be too weird for some tastes and not all of the humour works giving a somewhat jarring tone at times but it has one of the most hateful villains I’ve seen in recent times and it’s a fitting send off for our loveable group of idiots.