Right off the bat, the first thing James Gunn makes you realize as soon as it kicks off is just how much of a personal stamp has been missing in general with the MCU films. He tries to go for a sombre start to the proceedings. Still, to most fans of the GotG franchise who don’t particularly care about Gamora (the long break between the movies doesn’t help here), it will feel like a slightly dull slog of a start when you’re excited to return to the characters. Still, it was a much-needed return to the Guardians style humour in signature James Gunn style. A lot of it is just meh, as is the case with a lot of MCU stuff - but what hits, hits amazingly well.
This has one of the better third acts in the MCU, and that’s what really brings the movie home. The ship hallway fight highlighting all the Guardians and taking down everyone might be my 2nd favourite team hero shot sequence after The Avengers (2012) doing a 360 degree after taking down the Chitauri – it’s also set perfectly to No Sleep Till Brooklyn, almost on par with the use of Immigrant song in Thor Ragnarök. While music hasn’t hit the same in any Guardians movie since the first, this track is an adrenaline pumping highlight. I liked that the epilogue wasn’t rushed and the fact that they provided decent enough closure for most of the Guardians. Still, the movie is 15 mins too long, and just because James Gunn has a distinctively recognizable personal style doesn’t mean it’s necessarily great. And when you don’t know how to end the movie, you end it with a dance sequence.
What doesn’t sit well with me for a supposed swansong; the emotions never fully hit with any of the characters except Rocket, and for much of his backstory in the beginning, it feels contrived and just
shoehorned into the story to go for the lowest hanging fruit - cheap emotional manipulation. Adam Warlock made no impact whatsoever, he was a damp squib, and none of his screentime really contributed to the story. Just another setup character for future IPs. The High Evolutionary doesn’t fare much better either - up there as one of the worst villains so far. His cheap mask make-up and the cop-out explanation at the end just reek of Marvel’s indifference and apathy towards this stuff now that they have amassed this horde of unshakeable die-hard fans. The larger problem continues with Marvel movies where some of it looks good, some of it looks okay, most of it looks bland, and nothing looks amazing.
GotG Vol. 3 is Rocket’s movie through and through - which is even more surprising considering he is not much in action for the first 2/3rds of the movie. With this, Gunn showcases his tremendous knack for making animal moments shine, and the movie is a treat for animal lovers. But at the same time, some of those moments feel out of place and from a different movie. The Noah’s Ark shot of rescuing all of them was completely unnecessary, along with the extended Rocket sequences that brought the narrative to a complete standstill. All in all, it’s still a decent bow out of the MCU from James Gunn and one of the better superhero movies of the recent crop of releases.