It’s the finale to James Gunn’s trilogy before he goes from Marvel to DC Studios. It’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”! Talk about a series that started as a risk for the studio, but just exploded as cultural icons. For the past nine years we have seen countless merchandise, TV shows, and even Disney rides based on these characters. It’s not hard to see why as it’s a bizarre idea, given some great humor and a surprisingly effective story.
We start with the Guardians as they are going about their daily lives in their new home on Knowhere. However, things aren’t the same particularly with Peter Quill, who is still reeling from the loss of Gamora in “Avengers: Infinity War”. Which is not made easier when there is now an alternate version of her who doesn’t recognize him or the team. After a surprise attack that leaves Rocket in critical condition, the guardians must go on a mission to save their friend who is being hunted by a cruel scientist named the High Evolutionary. Will our heroes save the galaxy, while still keeping their family together?
As someone who loves the first two movies, I had high expectations for this film. I can tell that a lot was riding on it since it was capping off a series in an already large universe. Having seen it for myself, I am proud to say that this movie was fantastic. It is in my top ten best Marvel movies, it is that great.
The film understandably starts on a somber note, where we are reintroduced to these characters who each have their own arcs and dilemmas. Most notably, Rocket whose tortured backstory is shown in full detail. Right off the bat, you can tell that this movie is focusing less on the usual humor that this series is known for, and more on giving us a story that is going to make us identify and feel what these characters are going through.
Despite this, the film never loses sight of its heart, which is these characters and how they work off one another. The movie has them go to numerous strange places, as they deal with relatable and emotional situations. For example, the team has a change in its dynamic now that they are working with a variant of Gamora. As expected, this causes a lot of disconnect between them particularly with Quill. Throughout the film, you also feel the sense that the characters are starting to grow out of the team, and are ready to move on with their lives.
The cast as usual is wonderful. I now understand what James Gunn meant when he said this series was Rocket’s journey because his story is the best part of the movie. Bradley Cooper who does the character’s voice is always great at making you laugh and feel for him. I also want to give credit to Sean Gunn, who does the motion capture for Rocket because so much of the character is conveyed through his expressions and movements. I feel like this aspect isn’t talked about enough and deserves more attention. Chris Pratt as Star Lord is also entertaining. Dave Bautista as Drax is also great. Zoe Saldaña does an excellent job at playing a different version of her character. I also enjoyed the character interactions between characters like Pom Klementieff as Mantis and Karen Gillian as Nebula.
The villain here is also effective at making you absolutely loathe him. Chukwudi Iwuji as the High Evolutionary is definitely a departure from the righteous villain trope we have seen antagonists like Thanos from “Avengers: Infinity War”. Basically villains who want to change the world for what they believe is a good reason. While the High Evolutionary has similar motivations, they make it clear you are not supposed to feel anything for this character as he is a cruel, vicious, and egotistical scientist who does horrible things for the sake of it.
I was shocked by how many mature elements they got away with in this film. Taking the one F-bomb aside, there is a good amount of horror strewn throughout. Particularly with the High Evolutionary, and what he does to Rocket and his other creations. If you are an animal lover like myself, you will find yourself having a difficult time watching these scenes. James Gunn has proven that he is experienced in dealing with horror elements as shown in “Slither”.
The action choreography here is also fantastic. Especially a continuous shot of all the Guardians fighting in a hallway in the climax. Everything from the timing, to the energy, to the effects used on screen made it so satisfying to watch.
There is an abundance of characters here that can make it feel like there is an imbalance of screen time between them. For example, there is a new character introduced named Adam Warlock played by Will Poulter. He basically shows up every now and then in the movie to attack the guardians and then leaves to do it all over again. His motivations do feel underdeveloped, and I wish he got more attention.
Overall, I think this is a fantastic end to the trilogy. It may feel overcrowded at times, but I feel that it still succeeds at giving everyone a satisfying conclusion. Even though they are hinting at certain characters coming back for future appearances. I will always think back on these films and how they made me connect with these characters.