The Movie Guru: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ an incredible, heartbreaking farewell
Grade: Four stars
The most beautiful love letters are often goodbyes.
That’s definitely the case with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” which has moments of the series’ trademark silliness but also made me burst into tears several times. It’s James Gunn’s final love letter to both these characters and the audiences who care about them, wonderful and wrenching in equal measure. In a lot of ways it’s the best movie in the series, but by the time it’s done it will break your heart a thousand times over.
After the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special,” the Guardians are on Knowhere trying to hold themselves together. When old enemies arrive and put one of the team in serious danger of dying, secrets are revealed and everyone must wrestle with the ghosts of the past. Can the Guardians save the day, or will they end up nothing more than a memory?
Though the Guardians’ universe has long had serious problems with pacing — a key relationship happened between movies, and two big plot points happen only in the holiday special — that’s not a problem here. Vol. 3 has every callback and ties up every loose end a fan could hope for, enough to make you wish the entire series could have been this rich and detailed. Given everything that happened in “Endgame,” Gunn could not have done a better, more respectful job ending the series.
This is especially evident in all the character arcs that wrap up in this movie. All the characters get moments of real depth, with insights gained from even the silliest of the movies that have come before this. Plot points and introductions that may have seemed forgotten very much come into play, and all the character’s journeys have real weight.
Support Local Journalism
You can also feel the love all the characters have for each other, even when they’re yelling or making jokes at each other’s expense. They act like a real family, not just a sitcom family, and at no point do you doubt that they would do anything to save each other. It gives everything that happens such a beautiful weight, and was the source of more than a few tears throughout the movie.
The most dramatic journey in the movie belongs to Rocket, whose backstory finally gets revealed in full. It’s a brutal story, even more so than I previously imagined, and even though we don’t see all of it we see more than enough. It’ll break your heart, but it gives you such incredible insight into the person he’s become.
Despite how heavy the movie can get, there are moments of silliness. They’re a welcome relief, a lot of the time, and proof that the series has always been good at running the emotional gamut. These are people you can laugh with as well as cry with.
Thank you, Guardians, for the journey. A part of me will miss you forever.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at email@example.com.