Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special Review

Photo courtesy of Disney Plus

Photo courtesy of Disney Plus

2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was probably the most surprising movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). To say a film about a virtually unknown group of space avengers would become household names would have gotten you laughed off the stage but fast forward to 2022 and the Guardians of the Galaxy have become the premier team of the MCU second only to the Avengers.

After the events of “Avengers Endgame” fans have been patiently anticipating the return of the Guardians. And so they follow the events of “Endgame” with……… a holiday special? Listen I know how that sound considering that the “Star Wars Holiday Special” is one of the worst things ever put to film. Still, no exaggeration “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” is the best thing Marvel has made all year.

“The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special” is a short but extremely sweet special presentation that in just 50 minutes shows why the Guardians are the best franchise in the MCU, their heart. More than any other character or team, the Guardians exude overwhelming heart and empathy in everything they are in. they feel less like a comic book superhero team and more like a family who help each other escape their traumatic past.

While every “Guardian of the Galaxy” project has, director, James Gunn’s own style, this most recent outing seems like Disney let him let loose similar to how Warner Bros did with “The Suicide Squad” and Peacemaker.” This is very goofy and silly but it also has a firm emotional core. There’s a Christmas musical number, a talking dog, and aliens kidnapping legendary celebrities yet it still manages to deliver satisfying character moments and themes alongside the goofier aspects.

This special is a riot with some of the funniest jokes and situational comedy to date in the MCU. While the other “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies were funny, I wouldn’t have called them comedies but the “Holiday Special” is without a doubt a comedy.

Visually, this isn’t as unique and stylish as “Werewolf by Night” or even Gunn’s other projects like “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” but it doesn’t really need to be considering that this isn’t some big bombastic adventure but rather a more self-contained story. There’s not much room for big spectacles and setpieces, unlike Gunn’s other projects.

Performances here are about what you’d expect from the Guardians by now there isn’t much new ground broken here outside of one key character, Pom Alexandra Klementieff’s Mantis. Before she was mostly just the butt of a joke or used in service to another character’s story but here she feels like an actual character with an engaging personality which was a pleasant surprise since she was probably the most overlooked member of the team.

Overall, there’s really not all that much to say about “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.” It’s a nice little short film that carries the Guardian’s legacy excellently and shows how good James Gunn is at adapting to different formats of storytelling. If you’re looking for a new thing to watch for Christmas, this is the perfect thing for you. I’d even make the argument that this is better than the majority of classic Christmas movies. I really enjoyed the “Holiday Special” and I am ecstatic to see where Gunn goes next with his conclusion to the Guardians with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3” in May 2023.

Score: 8/10