A great conclusion to the Guardians saga with amazing visuals and stellar performances that’s only let down by an excessive runtime.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the 32nd film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is the final chapter of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. James Gunn (Peacemaker, The Suicide Squad) returns for a third time as writer and director with a story that sees the Guardians on a mission to save Rocket from The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) who needs the wise-cracking racoon’s brain to further his cruel scientific experiments.

While arguably one of the best-looking Marvel movies in a long time and giving audiences a wild and colorful ride to an incredible soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 suffers from a little self-indulgence, almost like it doesn’t want to say goodbye (which it certainly does as this is Gunn’s final Marvel film before departing to lead rival DC’s cinematic reboot). This results in an excessive runtime of 2 hrs 30 mins. But I still enjoyed it.

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) struggles to deal with the loss of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). The rest of the Guardians – Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) – don’t know how to help him deal with his feelings and can only watch on as Quill gives in to the bottle. However, when their headquarters on a rebuilt Knowhere is attacked by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), which results in Rocket being severely injured, Quill snaps out of his alcoholic spiral to help the team find a way to save their furry friend.

But saving a dying Rocket won’t be a simple task. Created as part of a scientific experiment, the racoon’s heart has a killswitch installed by his creator at the Orgocorp company that prevents the Guardians from giving Rocket regular medical treatment. The Guardians will need to seek out Orgocorp’s headquarters and face The High Evolutionary – now cybernetically enhanced and much more powerful than he was when he first created Rocket – in order to find an override code for the killswitch.

If the mission wasn’t already dangerous enough with The High Evolutionary having his own plans to capture the dying racoon, the new Gamora comes along to help with the mission creating extra emotional stress on Quill.

The returning ensemble cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 continue to give the same quality of performances that made audiences fall in love with them in previous films. While this story has more serious and “pulling heartstrings” moments that give the actors a little more to play with than just superhero adventure and comedy, they nonetheless have amazing chemistry and this shows. These are actors who are very familiar with their characters and it feels like they’re probably family when the cameras stop rolling.

Director James Gunn has gone all out with his final installment of the Guardians of the Galaxy saga with an ambitious film that tries to squeeze a lot into its bloated runtime. Jam-packed with impressive visuals, this is one of the best looking Marvel films with amazing CGI, great practical effects, and a staggering amount of creature design showcasing the brilliant talents of the film’s art department.

Even though this is the final film in the trilogy, the jokes continue to hit the mark and garner plenty of laughs reminding us that Gunn is in his comedic element with these characters. What separates this film from the previous two are the powerfully moving and serious moments that break up the comedy and adventure. We finally get to learn Rocket’s origin (and why he never talks about it). Gunn expertly pulls our heart strings as we relive the raccoon’s younger days while perfectly bringing the tone back to space faring adventure and comedy with a rocking soundtrack and plenty of obstacles for our heroes to overcome.

The only issue I had with Guardians 3 is that it often feels a little too in love with itself, which means a painfully long runtime. At 2.5 hours there’s only so many jokes and disturbing flashback scenes I could handle before finding myself agitated and wishing for it to end. The last half hour feels like the ending of Lord of the Rings where you think it’s going to end…but it just keeps going. 30-40 minutes could easily have been shaved off to make this a more bearable sitting and still tell the same story.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a great conclusion to the trilogy that’s only let down by the bloatedness of the story. With amazing visuals, a stellar cast giving us what we want from these lovable characters, and a story bursting with genuine emotion and heart, James Gunn has left the Marvel Cinematic Universe with a bang – but not before leaving a little something extra in the post-credits. As long as the film is, you’ll want to stay for these final bits.

  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • Release Date: May 5, 2023
  • Distributor: Disney

Originally published on May 08, 2023 at https://www.popzara.com/movies/movie-reviews/guardians-of-the-galaxy-vol-3-2023/