'Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3' review: Best MCU movie since 2019

James Gunn bids adieu to Marvel in style, by ignoring the studio's bigger plan


Rodent, hamster, triangle-faced monkey, fox, puppy, rabbit—Rocket has been addressed differently by almost every new character he has come across in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Chris Pratt's Peter Quill/Star-Lord addressed him as a “talking raccoon”. But Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper, did not identify himself as a raccoon. He was a genetically and cybernetically engineered raccoon-based life form with genius-level intellect. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (GotG3), he finally learns that he is indeed a raccoon and embraces that identity.

It is the origin story that we did not know we needed. However, it turned out to be an engaging and emotional journey. Director James Gunn's last Marvel movie—he has been made co-chairman and co-CEO of DC Studios—took the best of the two past Guardians movies and mixed them with the best of past Marvel flicks. He also carefully steered clear of any reference to the multiverse—Marvel can clean up that mess later, he seemed to be saying. What works best for GotG3 is that it is very much its own story. These have been in short supply in the MCU recently, with multiple movies being used primarily as a way to take forward the ongoing Multiverse Saga.

We check back with the Guardians, now working out of their headquarters in Knowhere. The start is good because it sums up the premise of the story pretty quickly and there is not much delay before Adam Warlock (played by Will Poulter) is introduced. The character was teased in the post-credit scene of the second Guardians movie and was also shown in the trailers of GotG3. The encounter with Warlock leaves Rocket wounded and, because of his genetic modifications, the Guardians are unable to heal him. They are forced to go in search of the file on Rocket in order to save his life.

That search leads them to Rocket's creator, the High Evolutionary—hereafter referred to as HE. And HE means business. Portrayed by Chukwudi Iwuji, HE sees himself as a visionary, and that allows him to destroy entire civilisations without second thoughts and continue his pursuit of perfection. Iwuji's performance deserves special praise, but some of the dialogue could have been better. All the other performances, too, are good. A quick shout out to Sean Gunn, the director's brother, who is back as Kraglin, but now wielding Yondu's arrow. However, it has to be said the cast was put in great positions to deliver stellar performances because of how the characters have been developed since the first Guardians movie in 2014. 

The humour is effortless. The same cannot be said for other recent MCU movies such as Thor: Love and Thunder, in which forced jokes failed to land. But, again, there is a strong foundation in place. GotG3 also managed to move beyond the razzmatazz and has genuinely well-executed emotional scenes. The music continues to be good. And the fight choreography and special effects have been executed with the usual flair. 

It remains to be seen whether Marvel can lure Gunn back from DC. But, for now, it is safe to say that Gunn has said his goodbye in grand style. He did that by completely ignoring Marvel Studio's grand plan and making his own movie, which is, undoubtedly, the best MCU movie since Avengers: Endgame (2019). GotG3 is a must-watch for anyone who has ever enjoyed this genre of movies. If you have fallen out of love with the genre in recent years, the Guardians might just hook you back in.

Film: Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3

Language: English

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Chukwudi Iwuji, Bradley Cooper (voice), Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Zoe Saldaña, Vin Diesel (voice), Will Poulter, Sean Gunn

Rating: 4.5/5

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