FILM REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Funny, exciting and heartbreaking, all in equal measure, this is an emotionally satisfying send-off
After his abrupt firing and re-hiring from Marvel, James Gunn returns to write and direct the third and final adventure in his Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. When one of their own is injured, the Guardians embark on a journey that uncovers dark secrets from the past and threatens to end the team once and for all.
The Guardians were a breath of fresh air when they were introduced nine years ago, thanks primarily to the combination of Gunn’s zany sense of humour and a good amount of heart, and thankfully, today, they remain the lovable outliers of the MCU. Vol. 3 harkens back to the planet-hopping space adventure that was Vol. 1 and retains the heart that was always present, this being the darkest and most emotional of all the films.
Rocket, who Gunn states has been the secret protagonist throughout this series, is the heart and soul of this movie, his tragic backstory involving Chukwudi Iwuji’s sadistic and cruel High Evolutionary sure to bring audiences to tears, which is impressively done considering those tears are for a talking raccoon. In more ways than one, this is the most adult Marvel has ever been, despite the film’s juvenile humour, getting away with things that will be tough for young children and animal-lovers to watch. That being said, you are fully behind the Guardians in their mission to defeat this villain.
The film juggles a lot of characters and interweaving storylines but somehow manages to create one flowing story. Newcomers like Maria Bakalova’s talking, telekinetic space dog, Cosmo, and Will Poulter’s fan favourite, Adam Warlock, are welcome additions, though Warlock is mostly unnecessary to the story, seemingly just included to fulfil a post-credit tease from six years ago. However, Gunn is clearly infatuated with our core Guardians, all of whom are fine-tuned into their best selves here, even if some feature less than they have in previous entries. Special shoutouts to Karen Gillan’s Nebula, who has gone on quite the journey from vengeful daughter of Thanos to fully fledged Guardian of the Galaxy, and Zoe Saldaña’s Gamora, who, after the complex, time-bending events of Infinity War/Endgame, is now an alternate version of the character from the first two films. It may be a bit awkward logistically, but Saldaña plays the character with a more charismatic mean streak and her relationship with Chris Pratt’s Peter Quill is now based less on 'will they/won’t they?' and more interestingly on how people change.
Despite the dipping quality of Marvel’s most recent projects, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is thankfully less preoccupied with being an MCU film and setting up future movies, and is more focused on wrapping up this trilogy of films, which it does so satisfactorily. Funny, exciting and heartbreaking, all in equal measure, this is an emotionally satisfying send-off for these loveable characters and, more than anything else, this is a film that makes you feel something, which is more than can be said for the rest of Marvel as of late.