As Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 hits theaters nationwide, reviews of the film are pouring in. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the film is currently 80% fresh, based on 252 reviews, but movie goers are absolutely loving the film and have given it an audience score of 96%.
This third and last installment of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy is the darkest and most gory of all previous Marvel films, and apparently viewers are loving the overall message about animal rights and the horrors of animal testing, which is the main focus of Rocket’s backstory.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, our beloved band of misfits are looking a bit different these days. Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him to defend the universe along with protecting one of their own. A mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.
Gunn writes and directs Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, and Maria Bakalova.
Kevin Feige is the producer and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Nikolas Korda, Simon Hatt, and Sara Smith serve as executive producers.
While the majority of the reviews are favorable, this film has proven to be polarizing among critics. Here’s what critics are saying about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3:
Frank Scheck from the Hollywood Reporter said, “this edition largely succeeds like the other ones, thanks to the chemistry of the main ensemble, who have grown into their characters with relaxed ease. The interplay among them is frequently delightful, especially between the mind-controlling Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and the big doofus Drax (Dave Bautista), who come across like alien versions of Laurel and Hardy. Karen Gillan’s Nebula is more acerbic than ever, and Vin Diesel’s Groot has grown up to be a much bigger tree, although his vocabulary hasn’t improved very much. And Kraglin, played by Sean Gunn (the director’s brother), well, he’s still there.”
Brian Lowry from CNN.com had this to say, “the most unlikely hit among Marvel’s parade of them was all about the unlikeliest of families. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 drives home that point, with a boisterous and often emotional sequel that feels very much like a true conclusion, fueled in no small part by writer-director James Gunn having migrated his talents over to rival DC.”
Justin Chang from Los Angeles Times also seemed to like it, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has its own appreciable mean streak, to be sure, but that streak is still largely subordinated to sentimental franchise-finale demands. That may be a compromise, but it’s not a failure. For all the visual weirdness and misfit irreverence he pumped into these stories, Gunn’s obvious love for these characters has been the trilogy’s consistent and undeniable saving grace. And he notably doesn’t sell out that love as he brings those characters all to a conclusion, or at least a mid-franchise inflection point, that carries an ache of bittersweet feeling.”
Peter Debruge from Variety had this to say, “unlike other filmmakers, who make it feel like we’re sitting back and watching someone else get to play, Gunn keeps the surprises coming, so audiences are actively engaged throughout, trying to manage multiple storylines and the ever-changing loyalties between characters.”
William Bibbiani from TheWrap enjoyed the film, “At least the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still capable of having that level of impact. There have been quite a few duds in “Phase Four,” films that have failed to make a meaningful connection and looked like they were either edited in a blender or shot through some kind of filter made of wet dog food. The success of Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 proves that it’s still possible for Marvel movies to hit and hit hard after more than 30 films, but also that it’s getting harder to pull that trick off. Marvel Studios raised the bar so high they now have trouble reaching it. Sometimes it’s still worth the effort.”
Brian Tallerico from RogerEbert.com also gave it a good review, “This sci-fi/action/comedy still succumbs to a few of the MCU issues of late—bloated runtime, things-go-boom finale, too many characters—but there’s a creativity to the filmmaking, dialogue, and performances that modern superhero movies often lack.”
Kate Erbland from indieWire said, “The Guardians appeal because their hard-won bonds feel real, even within the confines of the outsized MCU and the particular environs the space jerks find themselves in.”
Brian Truitt from USA Today also gave it a favorable review, “Watching Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is like listening to your favorite band on their final tour: All killer, no filler (OK, maybe a little), the greatest hits mixed with new stuff that reminds you why they’re awesome in the first place, and a desire for the last song to never end.”
Matthew Jackson from AV Club said, “In true Guardians fashion, Gunn and his intrepid crew decide their legacy is to go down swinging to the very end, and that will always be both intensely entertaining and unforgettably endearing.”
Peter Travers from ABC News said, “For all its backsliding into bleak—stop torturing Bradley Cooper’s talking raccoon—this spirited summer kickoff delivers the requisite thrill ride and ends the GOTG trilogy with the sweet sorrow of saying goodbye to these space dorks. It’s been a trip.”
Of course, with the over-the-top animal torture, global genocide, and children in cages, not all the critics were 100% on board with the film:
Michael Phillips from Chicago Tribune said, “What’s enticing to Disney and Marvel Studios doesn’t necessarily have to feel like punishment. But it does, sometimes, and maybe more often lately. The third and desultory Ant-Man movie, Quantumania, laid there like a green-screen lox. Guardians 3 is considerately worse; it trashes the camaraderie of its core ensemble (Dave Bautista’s Drax remains the deadpan standout) in favor of one deafening, vicious flourish after another.
Worst MCU ever? I know a 13-year-old target audience member who thinks so.”
Odie Henderson from Boston Globe said, “A movie is only as good as its bad guy, and I dreaded having to spend time with him.”
Kyle Smith from Wall Street Journal said, “For better or, I’m afraid, worse. Mass production of comic-book movies has stretched thin the talents of Mr. Gunn and most of his fellow toilers on the superhero assembly line. GOTG 3 is a blahbuster that, like other recent Marvel disappointments (Thor: Love and Thunder, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania), jogs along from one visually extravagant, strenuously jokey set piece to another without offering much in the way of either dramatic engagement or actually funny ideas.
Maya Phillips from New York Times had this to say, “Animal lovers, comic book fans and unofficial adjudicators of narrative continuity, action and style in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Lend me your ears. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is not the movie for you.”
Glen Weldon by NPR said, “To watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is to watch a filmmaker under the wildly mistaken belief that the best way to get you to absorb what he’s saying is by screaming it directly into your ear.”
Kristy Puchko from Mashable said, “I regret to inform you that the Guardians of the Galaxy as you know them are dead. What remains in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 are flickering remnants of fun times, but mostly maudlin bullshit.”
Johnny Oleksinski from New York Post also panned the film, “The misfit team’s constant punchlines and I’m-just-busting-your-chops dynamic have grown exhausting. They’ve become the guy at the party who thinks he’s hilarious but is actually just drunk.”
Richard Lawson from Vanity Fair said, “Half of Vol. 3 is an outright drama, heavy with themes of loss and terror. It’s an odd, lumbering patchwork of a film, occasionally fascinating but otherwise bloated and aimless.”
David Fear from Rolling Stone had this to say, “Solemnity is the guiding light here, and solemnity doesn’t suit the Guardians. When detouring through your designated corner of perfectly calibrated cosmic sloppiness starts to feel like a chore and a slog, you have a serious problem on your hands.”
Soren Andersen from Seattle Times gave the film a score of 2/4 and succinctly said, “This Guardians is the most downbeat of the series.”
Did the “twisted mind of James Gunn” go too far with this one, or is it a fitting end to his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy? You decide.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is in theaters now.