‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ – A Noisy, Unnecessary Swan Song

The childish jokes kill, but a bloated story and tonal shifts sink threequel

When will Hollywood learn an old saw that grows more accurate with time.

More is less.

Or, in the case of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” much less.

Storyteller James Gunn’s third, and final, adventure with the rag-tag group shows what happens when you pile plot upon plot, gag upon gag, and then throw every CGI pixel at the screen.

Exhaustion Cinema.

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 | New Trailer

We reunite with our heroes as a new threat emerges. Will Pounce plays Adam Warlock, a bronze-skinned superhero targeting Rocket (Bradley Cooper) for his master, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji, who screams every line he utters).

The evil Evolutionary loves to tinker with living organisms, and his experimentations created Rocket years ago (along with a crush of other creatures both cuddly and bizarre). His goal? To create a perfect species.

That’s interesting, but it’s never given the depth that Thanos’ eco-mania received in previous MCU films.

Plus, the High Evolutionary wants Rocket back. Why? It doesn’t make a ton of sense, but that’s par for the “Vol. 3” course.


The Guardians rally to save the gravely injured Rocket, setting a colorful, but bleak series of set pieces in motion.

Along the way, we get the usual buffoonery from Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). They’re all great, and even greater together. Their comic rhythms are perfectly in sync, and writer/director Gunn knows how to deploy their silliest bits.

“Vol. 3” is often very funny, except when it’s flashing back to genetic manipulations and even darker themes.


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We’re meant to ooh and ahh at Rocket’s old, adorable friends, including an otter named Lylla (Linda Cardellini) and Floor the rabbit (Mikaela Hoover), seen in copious flashbacks.

It’s all CGI, of course, but the story’s many tentacles mean we don’t buy into their fates.

There’s more, too, including a talking dog (voiced by “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm’s” Maria Bakalova), Sylvester Stallone as the head of the Ravagers and a tortured hero (Sean Gunn) whose superpower involves making an arrow-like weapon soar through the air.


The last “Avengers” films miraculously jugged dozens of characters, giving each wonderful moments to shine. Gunn and co. have a much harder time with a similar task.

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 | Good to Have Friends

Gunn is plucking our heartstrings repeatedly over the 2.5 hour running time, and it’s as exhausting as everything else on screen. Remember when superhero films were fun? Can we miss these characters at a later date?

Gamora is back, too, but this time it’s her character from another timeline since Thanos killed her in a previous “Avengers” romp. This version, again played by Zoe Saldana, has little time or patience for Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), a subplot with untapped potential.

Neither Pouter nor “Vol. 2” returnee Elizabeth Debicki register with their limited screen time, and we don’t get a satisfying action sequence until late in the film.

The novelty of Viesel’s Groot-isms has worn out, and keeping Cooper’s Rocket sidelined for much of the film is another unforced error. The Oscar-nominee’s wisecrackery is part of the GOTG fun.

Even the musical cues, so integral to the original film, feel tapped out here. Oh, I recognize that song … cool, I guess.

“Vol. 3” has the volume on full blast, but it’s not enough to make the 5th phase MCU entry worth our adulation.

HiT or Miss: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is big, noisy, occasionally hilarious but too often exhausting.


  1. And, spoiler, the lead character concluding that he needs to get his own house in order before going to save the world. I think Jordan Peterson would approve.

    Makes me wonder if Pratt, a devout Christian had any input on the script.

  2. I saw it last night. I think while a bit clunky, it was one of the most conservative movies since The Incredibles. Finding meaning in suffering, all lives have value, even lessor life forms. The notion of an afterlife, all welcoming and forgiving. And the virtue of 2nd chances.

    Scolds the throwaway culture we live in today. And the progressive temptation that we can create the perfect world, if only we play god and pull the right levers.

  3. I don’t want to go to a superhero party.

    I want to see one superhero defeat one villain.

    That’s all.

  4. Gotta disagree with you here; my family thought it was excellent. Especially worth noting: there’s nothing woke, and there are positive references to God, and afterlife, and an implied warning about what happens when you decide you have to do God’s job for Him.

    1. There is indeed a disconnect between critics and the audience regarding the quality of GOTG Vol. 3. Paul Tassi breaks it down:

      “‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3’ Shows Critics Are More Tired Of MCU Movies Than Fans”

      I’m with the audience whether MCU diehard fan or casual moviegoer. Vol. 3 was not only great in its own right, but of the best trilogy finales I’ve ever seen.

      As for the film being woke (“liberal”), it pretty much is in terms of animal rights.

      1. Woke does NOT mean liberal. I know you’ve probably seen a lot of nicknames for liberalism come and go, but woke is not one of them. Animal rights are not woke. Woke is a specific branch of leftism that’s as opposite from liberalism as you can get. It’s illiberal. It’s trying to create and leverage racial and gender divisions to destroy Western civilization and replace it with Communism 3.0.

    2. All in all I thought the movie was fun but If you have seen the previous movies, it’s pretty obvious that the nebula character appears to be more like a man. The character is wearing breast binders and speaking in a deeper voice, they also avoid calling her “she” in the film. Maybe it’s not overt but it is Disney being Disney, they will sneak their ideology in anywhere that they can. Why can’t they just let a strong woman be a strong woman.

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