When Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 first came out, it was considered one of the biggest risks in Hollywood. A team of nobodies that only the most diehard comic book aficionados know got a big-budget Hollywood movie from the hottest movie studio and became a global sensation. This happened, in no small part to the incredible cast and the power of Marvel Studios, but most of the credit goes to writer and director, James Gunn. James Gunn took a ragtag group of misfits and made them household names, and now Gunn and his lovable band of functionally dysfunctional heroes return for their Marvel Swansong in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
The Guardians Bring Back That Love and Feeling
There have been strong opinions about Phase 4 of the MCU and the varying degrees of quality. A prevailing sentiment is that Marvel movies haven’t been quite the same. The best comment many give to the newer movies is that “it feels like how Marvel used to be.” While I personally believe people often neglect the decade’s worth of investment they put in to have such strong and attached emotions. I understand and sympathize. Marvel movies haven’t had the same impact in a long time. I could dive into the ridiculous global problems that ruined their momentum and ambitious plan. Marvel lost that love and feeling. But Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is proof that it is not gone.
RELATED: Wonderful Wish Teaser Trailer Debut
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in fact the original Marvel fire that fans remember from the days before. This isn’t a new direction, a new starting point, it is the end of the road that we first started back in 2014. It is James Gunn’s and the Guardians’ swan song to the MCU. The seeds planted when Red Bones “Come and Get Your Love” filled theaters across the globe are in full bloom, and audiences around the world are smelling the roses.
The film is hilarious, heartwarming, and overflowing with out-of-this-world spectacle that beautifully swings back and forth between comfort and “WTF?!” like an emotional cradle. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 delivers on all fronts people have come to demand from Marvel movies. A healthy splattering of comedy that can be quoted, a hardy dose of action that remind people how awesome violence is, plus a story that brings them on a journey to the best destination ever with prominent stops along the way. And it is also hella flarking fun.
The Guardians Dance On the Line Between PG-13 and R
One of the most surprising aspects of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is how violent it is. The language and topics of discussion have always been a bit vulgar and a little raunchy and they have gotten into fights, exploded some things, and killed before. But this time around, they definitely found the line that separates PG-13 and R and started jumping rope with it.
The themes in this film are easily the darkest and most demented they have ever been of any Marvel movie. There is no understanding or redemption for the villain this time around. Chukwudi Iwuji, as the High Evolutionary, gives audiences the perfect villain to thoroughly hate. Iwuji offers no morsels of hope, no reasons for understanding, and no ounce of mercy to the Guardians or the audience. He spurs your ire and bathes in it. Iwuji makes a whole-ass feast of every scene and dangles it in front of a starving audience in his wonderfully wicked performance.
On top of his performance, the actions and atrocities the High Evolutionary commits are horrifying. Some of the creatures in this movie are pure nightmare fuel, and they show just enough to set the visual, then hurl you through the painful processes with genius sound engineering and masterful narrative. Seeing just enough of the start of these tortuous processes then the end result leaves a haunting feeling.
Outside of the horror, the violence is visceral! Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is fully exploiting some Motion Pictures Association of America loophole that lets them fully dismember, disembowel, and disgustingly destroy creatures as long bright colors are used. It is an absolutely gorgeous evisceration that never feels unnecessary or excessive. The violence feels just and the viscera encapsulates the emotion. It is a beautiful expression of emotion that is fundamentally primal. But if you stop to think about it, they just got away with showing something have its intestines ripped out.
All of that, plus a perfectly used F-word, let you know that they perfectly know the rules and dared the MPAA to give them an R, knowing full well they couldn’t.
I cried a few times throughout Guardians of the Galaxy, from sadness and happiness. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has true stakes that really heighten the emotional value of the film with it being heavy. The balance of fun and emotion works well in contrast to each other rather than having audiences carry the emotion the entire time only to lighten your spirits by lifting the load. Going from pure bliss of innocence and friendship to the soul-destroying pain of loss to a hilarious misunderstanding to past trauma, and so on and so forth, wonderfully amplifies the highs and prevents any settling in the lows, yet still fully feeling it all.
Bring your tissues.
Gotta Love the Guardians
There is really nothing more that can be said about the cast. They are masters of their crafts, and spectacular in their roles. and somehow become exponentially more than the sum of their parts together. Each member of the Guardians could very well lead their own project, whether that be another film, series, or even special. This time around, each performer is given the opportunity to play the full spectrum of emotions of their character which makes you love everything even more.
While the future is uncertain, and some fates have been sealed (this is not meant to be a spoiler but a reiteration of what James Gunn has said), the worse part about the movie is that even though we are given more than we can ask for, we want more and do not want to say goodbye. A trademark of a true masterpiece.
The Awe in Awesome
Outside of the intangibles like the emotional journey through brilliant narrative and immaculate performances, are the visuals. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 are one of the few films I will advocate the IMAX premium for. The costumes, props, sets, and landscapes are a perfect mix of practical and CGI that bring these galactic worlds and species to life. There’s only one other film that does better, but The Guardians are far less focused on the color blue.
Then there is the action. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has some of the best action of any superhero film. No shakey cam, no excessive cuts, and nothing that takes you out of the action. The choreography is pristine and the cinematography is ultraclean. There are countless instances throughout the film, but there is a one-shot in a hallway that everyone will be talking about for years. It is iconic and defines the genre.
Combined with the cinematography, music, and sound design, the film is an epic journey through the cosmos that is akin to a ride more than a movie. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is experienced it isn’t watched. You’ll feel what I mean when you see it.
The Best Superhero Trilogy of All Time
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the best superhero trilogy of all time and one of the best trilogies of cinema. The final entry beautifully builds upon the story that began in the first film and beautifully bookends the saga. James Gunn and the incredible cast wonderfully put our emotions through the wringer in their biggest and best adventure yet somehow still feels like a close and intimate embrace. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 fully delivers everything you could want out of a movie and then some.
I give James Gunn’s Marvel swan song a 10/10.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 releases exclusively in theaters May 5, 2023.
About Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release date: May 5, 2023 (USA)
Director: James Gunn
Writer: James Gunn
Executive Producers: Kevin Feige, Victoria Alonso, Louis D’Esposito, Simon Hatt, Nikolas Korda, Sara Smith
Co-Producers: David J. Grant, Lars P. Winther
Cinematography: Henry Braham
Music by: John Murphy
Production Company: Marvel Studios
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Maria Bakalova
In Marvel Studios’ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” our beloved band of misfits are settling into life on Knowhere. But it isn’t long before their lives are upended by the echoes of Rocket’s turbulent past. Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him on a dangerous mission to save Rocket’s life—a mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.