Review - Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 3 (2023)

These three elements of this movie have transformed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 from good to excellent.

I remember watching Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. I was sixteen years old and not a Marvel Studios fan and had just watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier and was surprised to have loved it. I’d seen the trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy. And I knew it had the potential to be one of the best superhero movies I’d ever seen. When I sat in my local theater, and the lights dimmed, I had no idea I was about to witness the birth of a great superhero film. A movie that has made a stamp on cinema.

After Guardians of the Galaxy, I’ve seen so many films try to recapture that special something that the first Guardians managed to capture. Think of Suicide Squad two years later, a movie that tried to emulate that storyline of a team of misfits saving the world with a killer soundtrack to enhance the experience. Even this year’s surprise hit Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is often compared to Guardians of the Galaxy for its familiar theme of unlikely heroes saving the day.

The Best Moment | Guardians of the Galaxy

Volume 2

Then Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 came out. As someone who isn’t particularly fond of the film, I thought that James Gunn had maybe hit lightning once, and that’s all we’d get. I’m happy to announce that James Gunn not only managed to make a film that reaches the level of the first Guardians film but surpasses it.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is as close to a perfect superhero movie as superhero movies get. There is only one other superhero film I’ve watched that’s left me with such an immediate impact: The Dark Knight. James Gunn uses every bit of his flair and creates a stunning movie. But what makes this film so magnificent? Well, here are three reasons.


Taking the Story in a Dark Direction

When I think of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, a few themes immediately come to mind: humor, great music, and heart. These movies make you laugh, they make you dance, and they can occasionally squeeze a small tear from your eye.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 chooses to retain these three winning formulas but adds one more crucial ingredient: darkness. James Gunn doesn’t hold back with this movie, delivering scenes that will make you because they are so heavy. This movie has a real sense of stakes and genuine sadness that you don’t often get in the MCU. And it’s not like the MCU doesn’t have sad stories. Nearly every installment in Phase 4 made me cry because the stories would have moments to catch me off-guard. But this film is on a whole other level of devastating. If you’re an animal lover, this movie will shatter your heart into a million pieces.

The closest thing I can describe to this level of darkness in the MCU is the fifth episode of Moon Knight which reveals how Marc Spector gets DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder.) It’s a tragic episode that is hard to watch because of the subject material.

But because James Gunn chooses to tell a story with such difficult subject material that never waters down to help the audience, he created a far more impactful story than anything else he could’ve done. This type of finale would stay with you long after the credits have rolled, and that was a brilliant move on Gunn’s part.

(L-R): Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Dave Bautista as Drax, Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Karen Gillan as Nebula, and Pom Klementieff as Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Genuinely Fantastic Action Scenes

Part of the joy of superhero movies is the action scenes. There are a lot of elements that make a great superhero movie, but you want to see the title hero (or heroes) in some incredible action scenes that you find yourself excited to see again. Think Shang-Chi or Doctor Strange, Black Panther or Captain America, Daredevil or Spider-Man; these characters have had action scenes that get people talking.

In this film, the action is visceral. One scene, in particular, may be one of the most extraordinary action scenes in the MCU. If you’ve seen the film, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the type of scene that, in theaters, leaves you sitting up in wide-eyed awe. It’s also the type of scene that I feel I will be watching quite a lot because it is that fantastic.

With great action sequences, a superhero film goes from good to great to easily rewatchable. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is definitely a movie I will find easy to watch repeatedly.

Baby Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Rocket’s Story Arc

When we met Rocket for the first time in Guardians of the Galaxy, he was the opposite of a hero. He was trying to get some quick units, saw Peter Quill was worth 40,000, and the rest was history. In those first two films, Rocket seemed a reluctant hero. He pretended he was only in it for the money and the fame. In reality, he was always a hero.

We saw more of that heroism in the Avengers movies, where he shined as he teamed up with Thor. And in this movie, Rocket’s story becomes fully fledged, shining a light on his story in the past films. To delve deep into why his story in this film was so perfect would lead me to share some heavy spoilers. But I will say this. How James Gunn finally gives Rocket his full name from the comics (Rocket Raccoon) is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in any franchise.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Rocket was already one of my top 5 favorite MCU characters. Now, after this film, I think he’s managed to dethrone my original favorite, Doctor Strange.

These three elements of this movie have transformed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 from good to excellent. I hope more and more people see it in theaters because this is truly one of the greatest superhero movies of all time.

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