REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)

Still reeling from the loss (and sort of reappearance) of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Peter Quill (Chris Prtt) rallies the team to save the universe and one of their own as the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) sends out mercenaries including Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) to retrieve one of his past experiments – Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper).

The Guardians of the Galaxy films and characters have always been a bit of a mixed bag for me. Some characters I really like, others I find annoying and the films themselves don’t always work for me with the kind of humour they have running through it. So, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. That James Gunn-humour is still there, and while I heard other people in the cinema laugh out loud a lot, I don’t think I did once but would still regularly grin a joke. Unlike in other MCU films where a joke undercuts any dramatic or emotional tension, Vol. 3 didn’t really have that and actually let some more dark and serious moments settle with you.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 delves into Rocket’s backstory and his connection with the High Evolutionary. It is almost hard to watch all the animal experimentation going on even though they’re all computer-generated and it definitely skirts the edges of body horror at times. The High Evolutionary is also one of those kind of old-school villains in the sense there’s no tragic backstory and instead they are just a horrible, manipulative person who does evil things to innocent people and you want to see get them get their comeuppance. It’s kind of nice to have a villain that’s there to be awful and for the audience to hate without being like “well they kind of have a point to an extent”. The High Evolutionary has a huge ego and a god-complex and does horrendous things because of it and thinks he’s right. He’s just the sort of villain you want to see beaten.

The whole cast gives pretty great performances but special mentions have to go to Bradley Cooper and Karen Gillan. Cooper’s voice work for Rocket across his appearances in the MCU has always been solid but here, along with the impeccable CGI-work on Rocket, really tugs on the heartstrings and proves that Rocket has been the heart of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy all along. Gillan’s performance as Nebula has been subtle but effective as Nebula’s situation changes across the course of her appearances. I also love that throughout Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 it shows how much Nebula’s grown to care about her fellow Guardians and sees them as her family – especially Rocket. The two of them just had each other for years before they got everyone back in Endgame.

The runtime could’ve been a bit tighter, at one point I thought the film was at a place to end thing but a quick glance at my watch showed there was over half an hour to go. While Rocket is the focus of the film, the formula is for the team to go from one place to another, searching for a thing and then finding they need a new thing to achieve their mission and going somewhere else to get it. While this simple plot gives room for more character stuff, it does also feel a bit never-ending. Also, while I loved the scenes he was in, I could’ve done with more of Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock. He is an incredibly powerful character but is also pretty naïve and while it was good to see the Guardians go up against someone who was nigh on indestructible, it was the scenes where he doesn’t quite get what people mean where he really shines.

The action sequences in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 are entertaining – there’s a corridor scene which I’m sure will be mentioned a lot but it does deserve the praise – and obviously because it’s a Guardians of the Galaxy film, the soundtrack is awesome and suits the tone of certain scenes perfectly. The final needle drop with a Florence and the Machines song may be my favourite in the whole trilogy.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 does a good job of balancing all it’s characters in this family of misfits and handles the Peter Quill/Gamora romance well and in a way I wasn’t expecting but appreciated. It’s a fun and emotional ride and the fact that it feels like its own self-contained film in this cinematic universe works in its favour. 4/5.


  1. Great review! I’m really surprised that this one has been my favorite of its trilogy. Rocket and Nebula are my favorite characters of the group as well. Rockets flashbacks were brutal and I definitely teared up a couple of times! I also really liked seeing Poulter as Adam Warlock. I wish he was in it more, but he was pretty great when we got to see him. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his character as he “grows up”. I also know nothing about the character in the comics to have any comparison points.

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