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The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3’ Review

The Dog Days Are Over
Photo courtesy of IMDb
Photo courtesy of IMDb

If you’ve seen my other Marvel reviews and articles, you know that I’ve not exactly been pleased with the state of Marvel at the moment. The vast majority of the stuff they release has just been aggressively bland, uninspired, and rushed, which has ultimately made me disinterested in this franchise at the moment (mind you this is coming from the guy who wears Marvel and DC shirts every day and has his room plastered with superhero posters and collectibles).

I still haven’t seen the majority of the movies they’ve released after the pandemic and I don’t really have the will or interest to see them. My last bastion of hope for this universe after a constant barrage of disappointments (minus She-Hulk and Werewolf at Night) was James Gunn’s final foray with Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3.

I am glad to say that my faith in this movie was not misplaced. Gunn absolutely knocks it out of the park once again with one of the best Marvel movies to ever be released. This movie was riveting and emotional from start to finish, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few kids were traumatized because this movie is way more visceral than the standard MCU fare.

Volume 3 is the perfect ending for the team and I can’t imagine a better way to send off Marvel’s number one band of lovable misfits.

It’s clear in this movie that Gunn carried a bit of the edge from The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker because this is easily the darkest the MCU has been since the Netflix shows were coming out. It’s not dark just for the sake of it though, because it uses its serious moments and scenes to further the movie’s themes and messages.

Just know though that the movie extensively deals with animal cruelty so if that’s something that makes you uncomfortable, this movie may not be for you.

Despite the darker tone, this is still a James Gunn movie. It has a lot of humor and style, especially when compared to other Marvel movies.

With that typical Gunn style comes a killer soundtrack, and it absolutely does not disappoint in this movie. I’m conflicted about whether this is my favorite soundtrack of all the Guardians movies, but I think this soundtrack is the best implemented in the trilogy. Each track fits the scene it plays in immaculately. 

As good as the soundtracks of the other movies are, the songs don’t always fit on a thematic level and instead just give the scene more energy. Here, however, each song thematically enhances the moment in which it plays. Tracks like Creep by Radiohead, This is the Day by The The, and Dog Days by Florence + the Machines add to each scene and the themes being presented. This movie is the first time that the soundtrack of these movies is used as a vector for the themes and progression of the story, and it makes these songs even more emotionally impactful.

Just like the tone, it’s clear that Gunn carried his experience with The Suicide Squad with him when directing this movie because his style of directing is more in line with that movie than it is the other Guardians movies. It’s not a huge change or even a bad one, just something I noticed when watching the movie. You can see how he incorporates his experiences with other projects into this movie.

Speaking of directing, this movie feels like the first time in years that there was any creative flair put into the direction of an MCU project. This isn’t just your standard Marvel movie with ugly grey color grading and bad CGI. Some shots do look a little iffy, but for every crummy shot there are ten more that look amazing.

The performances here are all incredible. You can tell each actor is putting their all into their performances because they sell each and every emotion that the movie wants you to feel. For a very long time, I thought Chris Pratt has a somewhat limited range in his acting, but I’m glad to have been proven wrong in this movie because he commands one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in this whole franchise.

I was worried going into this movie that it would be too focused on Bradly Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon and that it wouldn’t give enough development to the other characters, but this movie gives each and every Guardian a satisfying ending. I’d even go as far as saying that in terms of endings, this movie makes Avengers Endgame look like amateur hour. 

I will say, though, this movie suffers sometimes from trying to juggle too many pieces on the board, specifically with Adam Warlock. Put simply, he sucks and should not have been in this movie. I am convinced he was shoved in this movie because Marvel forgot to use him in Avengers Infinity War like they should have, so Gunn was saddled with putting him in this movie despite not belonging there at all. He’s never really engaging on screen outside of his introduction scene, and just feels like an afterthought after everything is said and done. All he really does is draw attention away from the main conflict. 

Thankfully, the other main antagonist is great. The High Evolutionary, while not quite as great as Ego, is one of the better villains in this franchise and serves as a perfect embodiment of everything the Guardians fight against. Along with that, his past with Rocket specifically makes this conflict feel much more personal than other MCU conflicts. This guy, while extremely powerful, isn’t like Thanos or Ego, who tried to destroy the universe. 

The conflict just feels much more personal because it’s not about saving the universe. It’s about protecting those you care about, which is perfect for a team of misfits who live past their traumatizing pasts through their connections with each other. Despite the darker tone overall, this movie has such a hopeful outlook that by the end I couldn’t help but tear up. 

While Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is the last we’ll see of the Guardians as we know them, it isn’t a definitive end but rather a sending-off. Leaving the theater felt like saying goodbye to an old group of friends for the last time rather than a bookend to a franchise. 

This movie was bittersweet for me because, despite Marvel pumping out more and more content, this felt like my last true emotional connection to this universe outside of Daredevil. In a sense, it felt like the swan song for this franchise, and I couldn’t think of a better way to end it.

Score: 9/10

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