Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 ★★★★

83%
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Still reeling from the loss of Gamora, Peter Quill rallies his team to defend the universe and one of their own - a mission that could mean the end of the Guardians if not successful.

James Gunn’s final outing is one with a handful of problems that slowly spawn as more plot threads continue to be introduced. That being said, these issues feel as if they carry less weight because of how damn passionate and emotional the storytelling is. Gunn’s ability to handle these characters, as many as there are, and bring this franchise a sense of finality is incredibly impressive. It is a big blockbuster with bold ideas, but it always keeps the flavor of the previous two entries. Because of the number of plot threads, there will occasionally be one that feels underwhelming or under-cooked. The biggest misfire may be the lack of attention paid to Adam Warlock and his importance. He is important, and the performance is good, but the weight of his actions aren’t felt due to the lack of screen-time. On the other side of these issues, certain subplots are handled beautifully and expertly, the biggest being Rocket Raccoon. We are able to deep dive into how he came about and why it means so much to this specific story. Gunn takes this opportunity to inject some darkness into this franchise, and the imagery may haunt younger audience members. Chukwudi Iwuji does a nice job with our villain. He is spouting out predictable villainous lines, and his plan is familiar, but the execution of this storyline holds so much weight. This world that he is a part of and building is fascinating, and there is so much to it that pushes this story forward in the best way.

Within the team, each member is dealing with so much, yet no one feels underserved. Groot gets less to do than everyone else, but it never feels frustrating. Rocket is obviously the highlight, as this entire mission revolves around him, but Mantis and Drax may be the unsung heroes here. They finally feel significant from a story perspective, and their amazing line-delivery is better than ever. Nebula has turned into one of the absolute best characters in the MCU, and that relationship with Gamora works so well here. Quill is obviously struggling to get over the death of his Gamora, and that back and forth between he and this new version is genuinely hilarious. Star-Lord has matured so much in these films, and it is even nice to see him admit some evident mistakes from other movies. Other highlights include the soundtrack (obviously), the chemistry between the cast, some guest stars, and the visuals. This movie looks incredible from top to bottom. I am convinced that Groot actually exists. The VFX are the best that Marvel has had in years, the cinematography shines, and each location is distinct. This entry will bring out all of the emotions, and it will be hard to walk out without a smile on your face. Critics are clearly exhausted by superhero movies because this would have had such high scores five years ago. Sure, there is a lot going on, and certain subplots are thin, but the passion from our director is clear. It was made from every ounce of love that we should expect from our superhero movies, and Volume 3 may just be what this universe needs right now.

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