Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Review: James Gunn’s Latest Marvel Cinematic Universe Film

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has been a trailblazer in the superhero genre for over a decade, with its successful formula of humour, action, and character development.

However, in recent years, fans have begun to feel that the formula has become stale and predictable. This is where Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 comes in, with writer and director James Gunn delivering a fresh take on the beloved franchise.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Review

The film’s story is gripping, as the Guardians of the Galaxy are attacked by Adam Warlock at the behest of his mother, the empress Ayesha of the Sovereign. Ayesha seeks revenge against the Guardians and also has plans to kidnap Rocket and deliver him to the High Evolutionary, the man responsible for torturing and conducting experiments on Rocket several years ago.

When Rocket is severely injured in the ensuing battle with Adam Warlock, the Guardians are forced to join forces with an alternate version of Gamora to infiltrate the High Evolutionary’s base of operations and steal something that could help save Rocket’s life.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 had endured a few delays, and at one point was even reportedly scrapped, after James Gunn’s firing by Marvel Studios. However, his rehiring by the studio was a clear indication that they recognized his creative talents and his value to the franchise. Gunn’s return has been a boon for Marvel, as he has delivered the best Marvel film since Avengers: Infinity War, and the best superhero film since Matt Reeves’ The Batman.

What sets Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 apart from its predecessors is the emotional depth that Gunn has added to the film. While Rocket is the central focus of the narrative, there is significant emphasis on Peter Quill/Star-Lord and his relationship with the ‘new’ Gamora, Nebula becoming a true Guardian, and the exploration of Mantis and Drax’s platonic relationship. This emotional depth is a welcome change from the typical Marvel films, which often rely heavily on action and humor.

TitleGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
DirectorJames Gunn
ProducerKevin Feige
Screenplay byJames Gunn
Based onGuardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
StarringChris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter
Music byTyler Bates
CinematographyHenry Braham
Edited byFred Raskin, Christian Wagner
Production companiesMarvel Studios
Distributed byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release dateMay 5, 2023 (United States)
Running time137 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$200 million
Box officeN/A

Visually, the film appears to have taken inspiration from Eidos-Montreal’s underrated 2021 video game Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. While there are a few minor changes, such as Lady Hellbender being omitted in favor of Ayesha and Grand Unifier Raker being replaced by the High Evolutionary, there are plenty of similarities between the film and the video game. To Gunn’s credit, the changes and similarities are balanced and help in delivering a compelling film.

Gunn has also layered in socio-political allegories along with themes of warped and deranged ideas of a utopia and the ‘cleansing‘ required to create a better world and in this case a better universe. These themes add another layer of depth to the film and give the audience plenty to think about.

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While the film is not without its faults, such as the under-utilization of Adam Warlock’s potential as a character, these are minor blips in an otherwise engaging film with plenty of heart, humor, and action. The soundtrack is, as expected, one of the best in the Marvel franchise.

In conclusion, James Gunn has once again delivered a compelling superhero film, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is his love letter to the beloved Marvel franchise he helped create. The film instils hope that there is still life left in the superhero genre after a slew of flops recently.

Whether Gunn can top Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel with his upcoming Superman reboot for DC remains to be seen, but based on the evidence of his latest film, he appears to be more than capable of delivering an excellent superhero film.