Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 Review
The Guardians of the Galaxy reunite for one final mission under director James Gunn before he abandons them permanently to head DC Studios. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 picks up sometime after the events of Avengers: Endgame and Thor: Love & Thunder. Peter Quill aka Starlord (Chris Pratt) is still mourning the loss of his beloved Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who sacrificed herself to Thanos to save the other Guardians during the Infinity War. Though another Gamora exists in his timeline, she is a past version of herself with none of the memories that made her a Guardian and wants nothing to do with them.
One day, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) is attacked by an all-powerful being on a mission (Will Poulter), and The Guardians are left with Rocket's life hanging in the balance. Nebula (Karen Gillan) enlists her sister Gamora to help find the people who did this to Rocket, once again throwing Peter in the company of his former love--a former love who doesn't share the same history or memories that he does. Yet he continues to hold out hope that one day she'll remember what made her fall for him, all while they race across the galaxy to save Rocket's life.
Though the Guardians films are typically ensemble pieces at their core, a big part of the audience's investment in this film will be whether or not they care about learning all the details of Rocket's backstory. The film devotes a lot of screentime to revealing flashbacks about how our favorite wisecracking raccoon came to be. But even though Rocket typically acts as comic relief, his backstory, on the other hand, is pretty dark stuff--making for a lot of jarring tonal shifts as we jump back and forth through storylines. For me personally, this wasn't a plotline I found compelling, and every time the movie came back to it, it dragged to a halt.
As for everything else going on, it was a mixed bag, with the biggest culprit being its bloated runtime. Aside from the film's initial inciting incident, it feels like it takes half of the movie before anything noteworthy happens to move the plot forward. The other Guardians are utilized well enough, but the interaction with Rocket is definitely missed throughout. I did appreciate Peter and Gamora's story, with Peter trying so hard to make something work that just isn't able to anymore. Meanwhile, Will Poulter's Adam Warlock felt like an afterthought.
Ultimately the film ends on a bittersweet note for many of the characters, setting it apart from most of its Marvel contemporaries. Some of these endings feel a bit more natural and earned for some of the characters than for others...so you don't completely buy into the way things end for everybody. But overall, James Gunn leaves the story in a satisfying enough place, capping off his trilogy with his signature quirk and rocking soundtrack--and for some, that's all they need.