May 4, 2023

CINEMA | 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' Finds Closure

"Only idiots dance!"
Daniela Melchior Zoe Saldaña Chris Pratt James Gunn | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 | Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios
Geek filmmaker James Gunn closes out his cosmic corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his last intergalactic superhero team-up adventure. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a surprisingly emotional ride that's laser-focused on paying off ten years of its oddball characterizations. It's an extremely heartfelt goodbye to this group of characters together, all while telling the horrific origins of animal cruelty and eugenics focused on a loudmouth space raccoon.

Vol. 3 is a much more ensemble affair where Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), Drax (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) share close to equal screentime and things to do. Pratt's heartbroken Peter Quill and his band of misfits band together to help save Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper and Sean Gunn) while Gunn lays out his character arc using some impressive CGI animal effects in flashbacks throughout the film.

Marvel newcomer Chukwudi Iwuji co-stars as the big bad, the High Evolutionary, who anchors the thrilling events of the franchise's cinematic coda while bringing the Guardians as a team full circle. This is also by far Gunn's most visually interesting film. It features some dazzling action choreography. Vol. 3, shot entirely in IMAX, looks fantastic and is a notably vast improvement in cinematography from the 2014 original.

Zoe Saldaña Chris Pratt Pom Klementieff Karen Gillan Dave Bautista James Gunn | Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 | Marvel Studios

A totally jacked Will Poulter plays the comic relief in the golden genetically engineered henchman Adam Warlock. He offers a silly characterization as a dim-witted Superman-type with a childlike understanding of the complex space happenings around him. He fits in fine with the ensemble cast who all feel much more like a family who (reluctantly) care about each other deeply. Alternatively, there's a not insignificant amount of cruelty, violence, and children in peril eased by Gunn's penchant for dark humour.

What might be most enjoyable about how the third Guardians of the Galaxy unfolds is just how silly it remains while exploring some emotionally grim material in Rocket's past. However, its baked-in themes of sacrifice and friendship make all the complicated comic book nonsense and time-travel logic worth the ride. Refreshingly, the sequel has absolutely nothing to do with the multiverse machinations going on elsewhere in the MCU.

Gunn, who clearly loves these characters so much, has crafted Marvel Studios' best (most bittersweet) film in years and by far the most satisfying and daring story arc since Avengers: Endgame. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 both closes out and rebuilds its characters' mythologies sublimely. It's a fairly standalone finale that's first and foremost concerned with leaving its heroes in a good place emotionally after experiencing so much superhero trauma over the past decade.

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