Seriously, bring tissues. But for a movie fraught with emotional moments (really only centered around Rocket), this wasn't my favorite of the franchise. Don't get me wrong, it's a solid, full movie, with a very interesting plot, but it doesn't really pack the weight or punch of the previous two movies. With that being said, it is still a VERY good movie, the best of the MCU since Dr. Strange:Multiverse of Madness.
Of all the MCU franchises the Guardians movies definitely have the best villains. Ronan, Thanos, Ego, and now The High Evolutionary each thrill the audience in their own way. The High Evolutionary, played by Chukwudi Iwuji, is a fascinating villain and an easy one to hate. He went HARD for the role, delivering each line with every bit of arrogance and emotion that makes the High Evolutionary who he is. Adam as a side villain didn't really work for me, he had a cool intro scene, but then went from menace to running joke very fast. Having the Guardians on their backs for the first half of the movie felt like there was definitely going to be some success for the bad guys, but the second half didn't really deliver on any of the "menace" from the villains of the story. It is definitely sad that James Gunn managed to make the High Evolutionary seem like MUCH more of a threat than Kang, and he was lot more captivating to watch as well. Plus he doesn't die by ant.
This is really the only critique I have of the movie, they definitely sold it as a "Everyone dies bring your tissues", and it really ended up being more of a Sara McLachlan commercial kind of sad instead. Each Guardians movie has ended with the death of a major character, and each death had meaning. Adult Groot. Yondu. Gamora. While some of those weren't so permanent, they had meaning and rank as three of the best deaths in the MCU. So the total death count of this movie just seems...fake. Like Disney was more concerned holding on to their toys than telling a complete story for some of the characters. And then for the fate of the villain to be what it was, was SO against what was happening in the story. They killed SCORES of minions but killing the main bad guy isn't ok? With Gunn out of the picture now I'm sure this was just Disney not allowing characters to die, which really makes the stakes in these movies feel lower than ever. Even Warlock's assault at the beginning of the movie, which was awesome, was shrugged off for most characters with the aid of the infamous "Med Packs".
The Guardians franchise has the best opening scenes, especially with the music attached to it. Come and Get Your Love, Mr. Blue Sky, and now the acoustic version of Creep? Perfection. The music evolves in this one, since Peter has access to more music, but seeing how much Rocket loves music in the movie is definitely the highlight. Each song is perfect for its use, and seeing Rocket softly sing along to Creep is a Marvel moment I didn't know I needed until now.
Ant Man 3 was a CGI mess, Guardians 3 is a CGI Masterpiece. I will always be amazed at how incredible the Rocket CGI is, and that applies to all the special effects in this movie as well. The costume work for Counter Earth is also magnificent, and it wasn't as visually overwhelming as Ant Man 3. The Guardians franchise should go down as one of the best visual effect franchises of the century, easy.
The theme is a bit all over the place, but it seems to come back to a classic Vin Diesel theme, family. It shows exactly how far they are willing to go for each other, making incredible risks to themselves in order to save other members of their team. This movie nails that theme, but while Guardians 2 told a perfect Rocket story, the theme for this one is kind of all over the place. Honestly, they should have just made a Rocket Racoon movie, the flashbacks don't really give you enough for the outcome of the story to loom that large. Loom. Ha. So while there is a LOT going on in this 2 and a half hour movie, it mostly comes together to make a satisfying conclusion to this trilogy.
Astounding effects, amazing music, an interesting villain, an emotional resonant story and a captivating performance from Bradley Cooper make this a fitting ending to the Guardians trilogy, even if the movie was a bit too "Hollywood" of a happy ending for a Guardians movie.