6/10 Minus “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, Marvel’s Phase Four was almost a complete failure and a huge dip in quality post “Avengers: Endgame”. Phase Five continued that trend and got off to a horrible start with the most recent and worst “Ant-Man” movie to date. So while “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is easily the best Marvel movie since “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, that is not saying much, especially with a 6/10 rating. This movie is one that you will certainly enjoy while watching but the more you stop and think about it, the more problems you will realize the movie contains. Before I list off the many problems, I will point out all of the ways writer/director James Gunn succeeded in this movie. Gunn has always been great at balancing humor and heart, making you rotate between laughter and tears and that trend continues here. Rocket the Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) has always felt a little bit like a Disney side kick who was fine in small doses but felt like more of a merchandising opportunity for Disney to sell toys and stuffed animals. Here Rocket is given a proper backstory and we definitely care more for the character than we ever have before. While “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” both had specific moments with some horrible visual effects that made Marvel films from a decade ago look better in comparison, I am happy to say that there are no such sloppy moments here. The visual effects look fantastic, along with the production design and creature costumes. John Murphy provides a fantastic score which makes up for the soundtrack problem, which I will get to in a bit. Most of the performances are solid and I liked that they let Star-Lord act heroic instead of making another male hero a cucked joke who gets beat up by female characters to elevate the female characters and demasculate the male ones. Both male and female characters get badass moments to shine, particularly the best action scene in the movie that has Beastie Boys playing over it. Despite coming in at two and a half hours long, I didn’t mind the longer running time and the pacing worked well for me. While Gamora (Zoe Saldana) existing after dying is problematic and felt a bit shoehorned in, I am glad Gunn didn’t take the lazy route with her relationship with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and was satisfied with how it ended. The action was entertaining and a fair enough number of the jokes worked for me (Nathan Fillion was the GOAT). As for the problems, there certainly are far too many to keep this movie from reaching the heights of the first two, superior Guardians films. One of the biggest problems is the character of Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). Not only is the character nothing like in the comics, which didn’t bother me but he was completely underdeveloped and wasted. He would come in, fight the Guardians, get beat up, retreat and then do that same cycle all over again three or four times. It was repetitive and even his powers were inconsistent and undefined. He felt almost like a male Captain Marvel in terms of abilities but less powerful. The whole subplot with the Sovereign such as Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) felt strange with how they suddenly served this movie’s main villain and that subplot just didn’t feel fleshed out. Speaking of this movie’s villain, while the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) was a solid villain choice in terms of his motivations and understanding his character, I seem to be the only person to not be praising Iwuji’s acting. He has strong moments that I recognized during my first viewing of this movie but upon my second viewing, I realized that he screams 85% of his dialogue to the point where it became laughable and reminded me of Eddie Redmayne’s yelling in “Jupiter Ascending” (never a good thing). Another one of the biggest problems for the first time in the trilogy is the movie’s soundtrack and for multiple reasons. The soundtrack wasn’t just a soundtrack in the first two films. The cassettes and mixes that Star-Lord listened to came directly from his dying mother and many of the songs and their lyrics reflected that as the dying woman wanted her young son to have songs to comfort him. They were mainly songs from the 1970s and 1980s. After his mixtapes were destroyed in Vol. 2, Quill received a Zune from Kraglin (Sean Gunn) but since none of the songs were personally made for him, the emotional connection to the music is completely gone. Furthermore, by introducing more modern music from the 1990s and 2000s, we lose the feel and musical tone of the first two films. While certain tracks do work (the opening use of “Creep (Acoustic)” by Radiohead and “Since You Been Gone” by Rainbow are perfect) but overall the vast majority of these songs could be substituted with others and felt interchangeable. The Guardians themselves are also inconsistent when it comes to killing as they slay tons of bodies and then decide against killing other evil characters for no reason whatsoever. There are other minor issues like in a mid credit scene where we see Groot bigger than ever (why did he never grow to that size before?) and the fact that the final post credits scene at the very end of the closing credits is easily the worst post credits scene in Marvel history. If you want to put in a totally useless post credit scene, do it in the middle and then have the exciting scene at the very end. Don’t make the audience sit another ten minutes for three or four pointless lines of dialogue. Not all of the humor works too with a “good dog/bad dog” joke being beaten like a dead horse, for example. The scene in the trailer with all of the townspeople throwing rocks at the Guardians implies that they were all just randomly carrying rocks around with them in their pockets, which is strange upon further reflection. Now that this movie has come and gone and the next movie lined up is the abysmal looking “The Marvels”, get ready for Marvel’s decline to only speed up as their quality of films drops and superhero fatigue continues to set in.

#ColdHardDrax / #BeYourOwnMantis / #QuillBabyQuill / #TheGrootOfTheProblem / #AllIsFairInLoveAndWarlock / #ThickAsTeefs

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