Justin Low’s review published on Letterboxd:
The third film in a trilogy is typically a tough task to pull off, however, James Gunn absolutely succeeds bringing the Guardians’ journey together to a natural conclusion and giving most of the characters a more perfect send-off than I could’ve ever imagined. Compared to the first two, this film definitely had a more somber tone filled with darkness and tragedy. This may affect its rewatchability, but it was nonetheless necessary considering where the Guardians were at in their story. That is not to say though that this film wasn’t funny as there was still plenty of that laugh-out-loud Guardians humour. It always impresses me how well James Gunn can balance humour with dark subject matter and mature character writing. This film was indisputably an emotional powerhouse, and that was not only because of the exploration into Rocket’s tragic past, but because of the general feeling of finality that lingered throughout the entire runtime after being with these characters for so long. Each character gets their chance in the spotlight, has something unique to contribute to the plot, and impressively all have some kind of character arc that comes to a meaningful resolution by the end of the film. The villainous presence is also brilliant. While not necessarily the most physically imposing threat, the way the High Evolutionary handles himself and what he’s trying to achieve is horrifying to witness inducing a true hatred towards his character.
From a technical standpoint, Marvel really upped their game. The visuals were fantastic, character designs were top-notch, and the blend of practical effects and cgi was seamless. This also featured some of the best action sequences of the MCU. As for the musical score, I did wish they utilized more of the original Tyler Bates’ themes from first two films within this film’s score. John Murphy’s score was still great and right for the vibe of this film, but I just think if he referenced the more familiar Guardians’ themes during pivotal moments it would have enhanced emotional impact. James Gunn’s carefully selected soundtrack though was still terrific as always. This man knows his music and has introduced me to some of my favourite artists and songs over the years. This film is no different and I already have the soundtrack on repeat.
My few gripes would be that one or two characters felt limited by the script, some of the cameos from James Gunn’s buddies took me out of the film, and I did find the film to really pickup in the second half. Overall though, this was an extraordinary send-off for all of these characters. This subverted my expectations in some of the best ways possible and proved that James Gunn truly knows these characters better than any of us. There are even all kinds of minor details and callbacks that could easily be overlooked but actually add so much to the film in hindsight. I can’t wait to see this again. This was an incredible ending to one of the best trilogies of all time.