Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 caps off a trio of films nine years in the making. I’ll cut right to the chase. The 32nd chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a touching and satisfying end. It’s the most consistent trilogy in the MCU (Spider-Man and Captain America are contenders too). It may not compete on a level with the original Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, but I teared up several times. I wasn’t expecting that.

Our ragtag team of intergalactic mercenaries is just settling in their new headquarters. We see that Peter Krill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Kraglin (Sean Gunn), and Cosmo the Space Dog (Maria Bakalova) are all there. Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) will appear later, but she, well, uh, her reemergence requires more explanation. Anyway, they are suddenly attacked by a powerful being named Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). In the ensuing fight, Rocket is injured to the point where his very life is at stake. Now the team must search for a cure which leads them to a wicked scientist named The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji).

We learn in flashback that Rocket was part of a cruel genetic experiment by this man. We meet other animals, an otter with mechanical arms (Linda Cardellini), a walrus with wheels for legs (Asim Chaudry), and a rabbit (Mikaela Hoover) with robotic attachments that make her look like a spider. They are strange in appearance but have sweet and cuddly personalities, giving Rocket emotional strength. What sets this episode apart is the sentimental component. Sure, we get a big-budget extravaganza boasting a curated soundtrack full of songs that I love, but it’s in the narrative’s quieter moments that truly shine. Rocket Raccoon is the focus, and his backstory is truly affecting.

This PG-13 release pushes that rating to its limit. The High Evolutionary, played by Chukwudi Iwuji, is a sadistic villain full of Shakespearean intensity. He is a degenerate with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The account can be violent. “Kill ’em all!” Star-Lord instructs when faced with an unholy army at one point. Or could that be the Earthling’s favorite Metallica album? Director James Gunn’s casual disregard for life is troubling. However, it’s the scenes involving animal cruelty that have garnered the most discussion. Some of it is a bit much.

The various incidents — even the traumatic ones — inform a narrative with real stakes. Ok, so yeah, there’s a surplus of characters, and it’s overstuffed with plot. Nevertheless, I’m now convinced MCU films need over two hours to excel. Thor: The Dark World is the shortest and arguably worst entry. Vol. 3 presents a thrilling saga with action spectacles that deliver. The production design is a dazzling display of sets and costumes with an eye toward humor. Nathan Fillion appears as Master Karja wearing a suit that looks like it was borrowed from the production of The Fifth Element. That’s exalted praise. Throw in a genuinely poignant tale that tugs at the heartstrings. Rocket’s origins are explored in depth, and his past is tragic, to say the least. There’s a lot going on. Developments can get visceral, but the story’s intentions are noble. Animal testing is wrong, and good wins out over evil. This beloved group goes out with style. I couldn’t ask for a more hopeful sendoff than that.


7 Responses to “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”

  1. I always think, another Marvel movie, here we go. Then I see it, and I have fun. This is no different. Although, this one had an emotional spin to it, which I loved. Really well done. 4 ⭐️.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! I personally loved this movie. It was definitely worth the hype, unlike several other MCU installments of late, and delivers a very satisfying conclusion to this trilogy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not sure why James Gunn feels the need to torture the audience with scenes of animal testing and experimentation. Isn’t this a Marvel movie? What’s going on here?

    Liked by 1 person

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