Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is a superb sequel and the best film in the MCU to date. Its narrative and emotional tones are unparalleled in this sweet conclusion to one of the best trilogies. Disney provided a demo-worthy 4K picture with HDR10 and a fantastic Dolby Atmos audio track to boot. The bonus features are a lot of fun even if there are only a couple to choose from. Highly Recommended!
Reprinted from our Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 Film Review
Is there a reason that Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is the best MCU film to date? Yes, there are many reasons that this final-ish chapter of one of the greatest team-ups is so incredible and it's not just that James Gunn utilizes every character to their total full potential. The level of emotions, original comedy, and sincere love of this story and its characters is unparalleled not just in the superhero universe, but perhaps in all of cinema. There was a high expectation for Guardians 3 and the result was even something better than could be expected that brings everything full circle in the greatest ways possible. It doesn't get better than this.
With the conclusion of the main saga of the MCU in Avengers: Endgame, Marvel put their other foot forward and tried something different with their next phase of movies and television shows. It's almost unanimous that with the exception of perhaps Shang-Chi and Spider-Man: No Way Home that every installment and franchise property in the Marvel Universe has been less than average, downright bad, or at the most instantly forgettable. Sure it was fun to see Bruce Campbell back in a Marvel film, but that doesn't cut the cake really these days. And with James Gunn returning to the director and writer's chair, Guardians Volume 3 serves up a slice of something that's been missing from the MCU for quite a few years - emotion and fun. It's a fine line that was captured in those early movies, especially the Guardians movies, but somewhere Marvel lost its way. That is until now when Gunn and Co. have one last adventure together that is one for the ages.
Over the years, so many characters that were born out of the Guardians franchise have become universally known and beloved. Even the smaller characters who only receive a few lines of dialogue all have important roles and stakes in this third film. But the spotlight this time around is on everyone's favorite rodent - Rocket (voiced incredibly by Bradley Cooper). The last time the Guardians appeared was in Thor: Love and Thunder and their own Christmas Special with Kevin Bacon. Since then, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has been looking for Gamora (Zoe Saldana) where his crew of Drax, Groot, Mantis, Rocket, and Nebula are going through their daily routines while Quill becomes an alcoholic out of depression. It's here where things start off quickly and go from light-hearted comedy to a tragic nightmare.
As this third installment is essentially Rocket's film - Gunn reveals the little critter's backstory in little vignettes throughout the movie. This reveals a baby raccoon and how Rocket became the shootin' super-smart, talkin' son-of-a-gun character he's known for - and it's a deeply sad tale that hits every emotional note to a tee. There's an incident with Rocket at the start of the film that puts this story in motion where the Guardians have about 48 hours to save Rocket and find out where he came from while dealing with a madman played by Chukwudi Iwuji as the High Evolutionary and Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), who are both trying to capture and kill everyone. There are new worlds that are discovered as Gunn plays to those amazing undertones of acceptance and kindness, themes that are so relevant and important today, that they ring true in the best ways that only James Gunn can display fantastically through a lens that resembles The Island of Dr. Moreau.
It's no secret that Gunn can take charge of such large casts of characters in one single film and inside Guardians 3, that's no different. Again, every character no matter how large or small is allowed their time to shine. Even newer-ish characters such as Cosmo the Space Dog have an important role here, while the veterans reveal their true natures in incredibly emotional ways. The combination of comedy and sadness here is pitch-perfect and will conjure up the biggest laughs and largest tears out of the entire MCU, and no doubt some of the biggest audience cheers. And the action beats are simply incredible. Gunn has filmed an action scene in this third film that was left out of all trailers and is the absolute best action sequence in all of the MCU. It's executed perfectly with all the right beats, music, and carnage and will be remembered for a while.
Everyone's performance here is top-notch as they all bring in more development and twists to their respective characters. And the music soundtrack this time around is simply marvelous and will no doubt have those older songs at the top of the charts again. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is the best MCU movie to date and might just be a candidate for the most enjoyable and best movie of the year. There should be a huge thanks to James Gunn and the company for providing these amazing films to mass audiences, especially this third movie that gets everything right. Highest Recommendation is that's full of joy, laughter, and tears.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 shoots its way to 4K + Blu-ray + Digital Code via Disney. The two discs are housed inside a Hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The all-white and purple artwork that features all of the new and old Guardians is a ton of fun, even if it doesn't strike anyone as fantastic artful work. There is an insert for a digital code.
NOTE: Images are sourced from the 1080p Disc, when we can we'll try to circle back to add 4K disc-sourced images
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 has an exquisite 2160p 4K UHD image with HDR10 enhancements. This is a beautiful-looking movie. Guardians has the best and most colorful palette of all the MCU properties. This third installment allows those fun planets and spaceships to thrive through boasting colors.
That first sequence in Nowhere gives off those rusty amber hues with some fun neon signage in the background that perfectly contacts with Krgalin's pinkish-red arrow. The Gold paint on Warlock is a deep gold that also gives a nice reflective metallic look. On other planets, the blue skies and green plants all look impressive that mix well with the purple outfits, and Gamora's green skin. Inside the living, breathing spaceship, the orange and yellows pop brightly that lead into a perfect white balance of walls and floors where red droplets are flawlessly blended in. The Black levels are inky and rich in those darker corridors and the bleakness of outer space. The climactic fight scene showcases a rainbow of colors through alien bodily fluids, gun blasts, and costumes. This film is such a wonder to view within its rich and colorful palette that everyone should be satisfied.
The detail is sharp and vivid throughout as well. Closeups reveal individual hairs on faces and heads, practical makeup applications, beads of sweat, detailed visual effects, textures in costumes, and more. Wider shots also allow those more intimate details of props and sets to display some easter eggs and detail too. The CGI effects of Rocket and all of the animals are top-notch. Rocket never looks unrealistic here. The skin tones are fantastic throughout too. The HDR upgrades the color palette quite a bit in both bright and dark sequences which is noticeable from the 1080p counterpart, particularly during the heaven sequence for Rocket and during the final battle. This is a demo-worthy image presentation with no issues.
This release comes with a wonderful Dolby Atmos track that compliments the video portion. The sound effects are explosive, nuanced, and fantastic. Explosions and gun blasts provide some great social movements in sound, especially in the slow-motion portions of the film. The transition of each sound effect from speaker to speaker is flawless. Heavier audio moments in those action sequences come with some ripe low-end bass rumbles that are always smooth. Spaceships crash and burn and body-to-body combat sound excellent.
The atmospherics allow the screams, chattering, footsteps, and other violent moments to breathe through the rear speakers often. Kraglin's arrow piercing through the villain's bodies fully immersive the soundscape into the viewing room as it flies around. The height speakers bring forth debris from explosions from above that add those nuanced audio details. The song lists always add to that fantastic soundtrack of the film that has become iconic and the dialogue is always clean, clear, and easy to follow. This is one demo-worthy audio mix with no issues.
After the audio commentary, there are only about 36 minutes of extras here, which is not great considering this might be the last Guardians film for a while and certainly the last with Gunn attached. Still, the ones offered up here are super sweet, informative, and entertaining.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is the most entertaining, and one of the more emotional films in the MCU. It's definitely the best movie out of that universe and brings everything and everyone to a close in a sweet way. The 4K image with HDR10 along with the Dolby Atmos track are incredible. The bonus features are worthwhile even if there aren't many of them. Highly Recommended!