The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie came out almost 10 years ago. It was an instant hit and loved by Marvel fans and normies alike. However, I don’t think this film gets the praise it deserves. GOTG changed superhero and action blockbusters forever. Due to its critical and commercial success, studios were suddenly willing to take more risks on weirder properties. On top of this, countless other franchises took heavy inspiration from Gunn’s comedic tone, colours and soundtrack. Thereby, the question becomes does Gunn’s style still hold up or has it been ruined by the onslaught of MCU films?
James Gunn has written perhaps the best script the MCU has ever seen. It is a touching and heartbreaking story that has very powerful themes behind it. The film focuses on compassion for all living things but comes from a place that’s feels earnest and genuine. At no point in Guardians 3 did I feel I was being beaten over the head with exposition or characters trying to tell me what the film was about.
What is perhaps even more challenging is balancing these themes alongside humour. Unlike most MCU movies, Guardians of the Galaxy 3’s jokes never feel draining or quippy. Instead, it uses the characters personalities to create humour. I love this decision to hold back on the jokes because when they were in the film they felt that much more effective and punchy. In my cinema at least, no line ever missed the mark and was always met with laughs.
As you have seen from the trailers, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is a story about Rocket Raccoon. We dive into his creation with flashbacks throughout the movie. These scenes were a constant gut punch that always touched the right heart strings. It transformed this pretty two-dimensional character into one of the most layered and complex heroes in the MCU. All of this was accomplished through amazing voice acting by Bradley Cooper and some astonishing VFX work.
While diving into the backstory of Rocket, Gunn still manages to balance the rest of the Guardians. Chris Pratt made me care for StarLord once again. He has an excellent arc that wraps up his previous mistakes while showing why he is the leader of this group. Zoe Saldana displays how different this Gamora is through her rage and morality. I also loved how Gunn doesn’t try to transform her back to her old self but sticks with this version of Gamora.
But for me Dave Bautista as Drax and Pom Klementieff as Mantis stole the show. They are such talented comedic actors that make every scene they’re in 10x better. This duo just have a brilliant chemistry that I would watch in movies that aren’t linked to the MCU. I do think there could have been more time contributed to Groot as he deals with some heavy emotions. He is a core character who never really got as much of an arc as I would have liked (I know it’s probably cause of how expensive he is).
On the other side of our heroes is the villain. It goes without saying that superhero films have a track record for weak villains but in GOTG 3 it is the complete opposite. Chukwudi Iwuji plays the High Evolutionary and delivers a stellar performance. He is an awful and delusional man who you truly despise. I think Gunn understood that too many MCU movies have villains who have good intentions and thereby wanted to go the complete opposite direction. The High Evolutionary maybe a simple villain with basic ambitions but he is a man you will truly hate.
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is the most unique MCU movie I have ever seen. Amongst what I have said earlier, I think that there are two core reasons for this. Firstly, the designs. Every single movie Gunn makes gets weirder and grosser, but GOTG 3 is at the top of that list. The costumes, set designs and VFX all lead to this disgusting world that feels so refreshing amongst the MCU. Now at times, the VFX don’t hold up but it never took me out of the movie.
The second reason this film feels so unique is the violence and action. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 utilises gore and horror in a way even Raimi didn’t do. Some scenes were so brutal it had people in the audience looking in the opposite direction. But Gunn always brings us back to that fun and playful action he is famous for. In particular, there is a one take action scene unlike anything I have ever seen. It is easily one of the best marvel fight sequences and a brilliant achievement by Gunn and the crew.
While the Guardians movies are famous for their comedy, action and characters there is something perhaps that tops even this – the music. Those first two movies use music in a way that filmmakers have been copying ever since. But truthfully, this films music did not live up to the hype. While I love a lot of the songs in GOTG 3, it did not have the same tone and impact as the other movies. It honestly just felt like a few songs Gunn loves instead of a soundtrack that match the characters.
James Gunn has finished this trilogy off with the best film in the series and perhaps the best Marvel movie yet. It balances different themes, genres and styles but never feels like it loses its focus. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is a three-hour movie that feels like 2 and is perfect for the cinemas. It’s ending made me realise how much I will miss these characters and value James Gunn as a filmmaker. His movies just get better and better and if I am Marvel I am shaking in my boots for the future of DC.