GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 Review: Fun, Heartfelt, Emotional, But a Hollow Ending

***This is a spoiler-free review.***

Writer and director James Gunn has returned to the franchise that rose him superstar status in the Hollywood writing and directing community to conclude his trilogy for this iteration of the team.

In typical Gunn fashion there’s silliness, humor, fun, weirdness, emotion, and a bit of gore. The gore is both a surprise and not a surprise seeing as how Gunn tapped into his Troma movie days providing some rather gruesome moments which is a surprise for the Disney-owned Marvel Studios, but to be fair, Marvel has recently been testing the boundaries of what can and can’t be included in their PG-13 offerings. While there’s no red blood in the gory scenes, there’s plenty of alien-colored blood splattered throughout, which is in fact the loophole to prevent an R movie rating.

The story revolves around Rocket Raccoon. Moviegoers have already seen a lot of the middle of his story in previous appearances in MCU films, and his beginnings are the mystery revealed here. And OMFG baby Rocket will melt your damn heart. His beginnings are an emotional roller coaster of gut-wrenching decisions and imagery made by the film’s villain, The High Evolutionary, played brilliantly by actor Chukwudi Iwuji.

The High Evolutionary is cold, calculating, and a bit of a nut case. Someone in his position with power needs to be a bit nutty as he’s messing with genetics to create "perfect beings" and "new species" of societies of his own where he’s considered their god for creating them. And yes, if you haven’t already realized it yet through teasers and trailers, he is the creator of Rocket.

The main plot of the film focuses on Rocket and the Guardians team needs to work together to help their little furry friend because [REDACTED]. I've redacted this because any further details about this means the main plot will be spoiled for you. Gunn and the marketing team have hid the plot so well hidden you need to experience it for yourself at the theater.

Our team of misfits gets broken into two teams: one with Star-Lord, Mantis, Drax, Groot, and Nebula and the other with Kraglin and Cosmo. With the latter two getting less screen time than the main team members, but Kraglin and Cosmo’s less screen time is made up for with the time they do get and both do not disappoint.

The main team does their thing and the “new” Gamora eventually tags along. Of course Star-Lord is still sad it’s not the same Gamora he fell in love with and continues to try and convince her of this, and she's annoyed by it. Drax is Drax and gets plenty of one-liners throughout as the humorous heart of the movie, Mantis does too with her genuine brand of awkward humor. Groot may look different, but he’s a powerhouse once again like in the first film. It’s really Nebula and Star-Lord who get most of the lines and screen time. Nebula more of less is considered the co-star of this threequel.

Then there's Adam Warlock, who, if you remember was last seen incubating in Ayesha's cocoon at the end of the last movie. He now gets to flex his muscles and powers. His motivations are basic yet clear, his powers are not explained at all, and he could very well be one of the weaker introductions into the MCU. There is plenty of time to fully develop his character in the future as he will obviously be an important player in the MCU moving forward.

There’s lots of action to the point this movie might have the most action of either of its predecessors. The pacing is non-stop and makes the film’s two and a half hour runtime fly by like it was a 90-minute movie, but that doesn’t take away from the story at all.

A very, very colorful movie as Gunn tapped into so many colors the movie is never too dark outside of Rocket’s flashbacks scenes which is needed to be dark to convey the tone of those scenes. You might need some tissues for these flashback scenes as they are the emotional center of the film. Don't be surprised if you get a few tears during his flashbacks.

As Gunn closes out this trilogy he has told the media several times how this is the end of the Guardians team roster as you’ve known it, however, the ending to this trilogy is somewhat hollow because of Gunn's promise and it is a little disappointing in the end. Sure, there’s a new team roster in place when the theater lights come on, but how this new team roster is reset is soft and with a hollow feel. 

In the end, you get another fun romp through the cosmos with the Guardians of the Galaxy, but it feels like Gunn did not stick the landing choosing a much lighter conclusion than he should have. Even taking one big risk would have made the ending more impactful, and he choose not to take any risks at all.

Written and reviewed by Daniel Wolf; Founder, Editor-in-Chief