Guardians review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 being called depressing in mixed reviews

By Olivia Richman


May 6, 2023

Reading time: 4 min

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is said to be the final installment of the Marvel trilogy, so fans were anticipating some emotional moments and high stake situations. Unfortunately, the dark plot and visuals of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has left fans feeling mixed about yet another Phase 5 Disney film.

With Vol. 3 set to be the last of the Gaurdians as we know them, James Gun promised an emotional story that dives deeper into the life of a popular member, Rocket Raccoon. Fans were going in expecting to feel all the feels, but did the movie do the comic book justice and create a memorable conclusion before Gun leaves to direct DC movies?


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been receiving a lot of mixed reviews from top critics and fans alike. These two groups of movie-goers are always at odds, however. Here’s a look at the reviews with no spoilers!

The good

Marvel fans are doing what they do best — leaving positive reviews for another Marvel film. It often seems as though nothing can deter them from enjoying the film, which is a good and bad thing. On one hand, there is no denying that a superhero movie is fun and that there are fun action scenes and witty banter galore. And should we really knock it?

But movie critics often want fans to ask themselves why they accept a lot of glaring flaws with cinematography, plot, characters, and the film’s overall appearance.

Either way, if you ask fans what they thought of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, you’ll hear that the movie really explored the relationships between the main cast of characters and that some graphic scenes will “tug at your heartstrings.” It’s been described as “funny and cute,” as well as putting fans on the edge of their seat.

The villain, the High Evolutionary, is also being praised by fans for being absolutely deplorable. Unlike a lot of villains as of late — who has a touching backstory or relatable reason for being bad — this guy is straight-up evil. Having someone to root against who just wants to murder people was definitely a fun change.

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There is no denying that people have grown attached to the characters in Guardians of the Galaxy. They have watched them grow, struggle, fight, fall in love, make jokes, and die. But is a long-time love of a cast of characters enough? Some fans are saying no, calling the movie too dark and too long.

The bad

Over at the New York Times, you’d think PETA sponsored the review. A lot of reviews of Vol. 3 have accused the movie of being too dark and too violent, with NYT stating: “It seems Guardians needs this much gratuitous trauma bait to establish its stakes and prove that the bad guy is, in fact, bad.”

While fans enjoyed the straight-up evil villain, a lot of critics felt that the imagery of cute CGI animals being tortured and exploded was a bit manipulative.

The Globe and Mamil felt that Gun kept piling on situations that felt thrown out of the left field for the sake of, well, what exactly? Maybe more drama? Maybe more stakes? For this reviewer, the movie felt like “a bunch of nothingness” by the second half.

“Beloved heroes become annoyances, impressive villains get sidetracked in favor of secondary bad guys, and Gunn’s signature needle-drops go from fun (Faith No More, Spacehog, the Flaming Lips) to aggravating (an overused Beastie Boys track, a Bruce Springsteen shout-out that is pitched above the film’s station),” they wrote.

It felt like the movie was jumping from “one spectacle to the next.” This is nothing new for Marvel, who don’t seem to be concerned with the consistency of the multiverse they created. The MCU timeline is clearly bloated, and there are many film failures along the way.

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Honestly, the bad reviews are nothing new for a Marvel film, nor are the positive reviews. As always, this Marvel movie has fun moments, great action, and emotional moments between characters people have become attached to. And that can be enough if you are looking for a fun time. More critical movie-goers, however, will no doubt find fault with the ongoing MCU timeline and its many conveniences, as well as an overall uninspired film style, a bunch of bloated CGI sets, and a lacking story.

“At the end of the day, this is a movie about joy and compassion and learning to see beyond the rim of our own worlds and having empathy for all living things,” Gun said on Instagram. “Rocket’s journey is my own, and I’m so happy to have had him help me to learn a better way of living over the past 11 years, as well as all of you.”