It’s hard for me to properly formulate my thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 because on one hand I am very satisfied with the film but on the other, I am let-down. However, it's one of the best comic book films of the past 4 years and a fitting conclusion to the Guardians' story.
Right from the start, the film thrusts into a plot that immediately sets the stakes in a matter that is really heartfelt and puts the viewer on the edge of their seat. Now although this is a good thing, it took me like an hour to get on board with the film's plot which I still think is weak. The highlight of the story is Rocket's backstory (and Rocket himself) which felt like the emotional backbone of the film. It's a great backstory that has sole credit for rescuing the film when it gets bogged down by its own silliness. James Gunn did go too far in many places - no, not the animal cruelty in the film which is very graphic and painful - he let his imagination run too wild where one sequence involving an organic space station lab was too goofy and weird (visuals and substance). There are fun moments in it but it was annoying. It still could've worked if he changed the location because some scenes in it had great dialogue and character work. The humor really interrupted the dramatic weight of a lot of scenes, and there is a lot of arguing and yelling between characters which gave me a headache. On the other hand, there were genuinely funny sequences with cool music playing - is it a Guardians film if rock music didn't play over a slow-motion sequence as characters slowly walked through and away from the action? The overall plot of the film was the weakest aspect of the film but James Gunn knows how to get you invested and the character-work helped me ignore the plot sometimes. This trilogy is Marvel's most consistent when it comes to style, characters, themes, and emotional resonance. The film manages to develop and flesh all of the main characters and conclude their arcs in a satisfying and emotional fashion. The villain was not bad at all: he was imposing, threatening and with clear goals - portrayed brilliantly by Chukwudi Iwuji - but his powers were a bit inconsistent. Adam Warlock, although clearly shoved in at the last minute, still had a convincing arc and by the end of the film I was fine with his scarce and (mis)usage. The final act has very questionable ethics and decisions. The ending was very sad, so get ready to cry.
The music has been a staple of the Guardians films but this one probably has my least favorite soundtrack – Vol.2 has the best one - and the Guardians of the Galaxy theme by Tyler Bates was surprisingly missing from the film (although variations of it were sprinkled around). The film has some nice visuals and the CGI was surprisingly good. There is a one continuous action shot at the end of the film that was impressive and really fun - now I have to admit that I dislike Gunn's usage of wide angle lenses when filming dolly shots or long shots with a lot of camera movement because when he gets close to the characters the distortions annoy me and the image looks wonky, especially when he is stitching shots together. This film is probably the most violent Marvel film and pushes the limits of the PG-13 rating.
Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a fitting ending to the Guardians' story and manages to overshoot, undershoot, and hit the right spots across its 2.5-hour runtime – which was not tiring nor overly long. And beyond the comic-book film duties and tropes which this film does not lack, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is an involving and emotional tale about a band of misfits that makes you ignore many issues with the story because its heart beats louder than its problems??