Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 Review: Seated in a packed theatre, surrounded by fans, influencers, and fellow critics, I battled a sinking feeling as the trademark logo of the Marvel Studios played out. Unlike most Marvel movies in the past, which featured either strip of comics or the Avengers, James Gunn decided to pay tribute to the characters of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. It was at this moment that I knew it was going to be an emotional ride for GotG fans and I should have carried a box of tissues.
The last of the three-part trilogy (excluding the Christmas special), Guardians of the Galaxy reunite for one last time in the James Gunn directorial, and this time, it is all for Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper). As the trailers already revealed that Rocket’s secret past is finally out of the bag and he lies on his deathbed after an attack by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). The Guardians learn that Rocket has a ‘kill switch’ installed on his heart which prevents him from receiving any medical support except for the one coded into his files during his experimentation.
It is eventually revealed that the chip was installed by the sinister High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) and Rocket was merely an IP that was being used to test animals in order to make an Earth-like civilization. Learning that the codes to save Rocket are in the hands of the High Evolutionary on the Counter-Earth, Star-Lord aka Peter Quill (played by Chris Pratt) takes help from Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) and join Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) to save his best friend.
The two hours and 29 minutes movie hits it home when it comes to fan service. James Gunn is fully aware that he is marching towards the exit door since the first scene starts playing out and he does everything in his control to give the characters he worked on for over a decade now a fitting tribute. The filmmaker puts together a string of emotional scenes, emphasising on the role of friendships in his vision of the MCU to the extent that it mirrors his bond with each character and cast of the film. You can truly tell that James loved these people and the roles they played when the curtains start to close.
The writing by Gunn is impressive. He gives a closing arc to each Guardian, making you root for every single character — even the ‘reset’ Gamora and the newly introduced Adam Warlock, who has been brought into the picture as a threat to the Guardians. As though Guardians did not already feel like superheroes who were more human, Gunn hits it out of the park when he shows the characters vulnerable, facing their fears and conquering, leaving no dry eye in the house. I had tears rolling down my cheek at least twice in the last hour of the film.
While the emotionally charged storyline stands out, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 aces on the comedy front as well, giving Drax, Kraglin Obfonteri (Sean Gunn), and Cosmo (voiced by Maria Bakalova) a lot of space to explore their comical side. Drax truly emerges as one of the most memorable characters in the film.
The screenplay, however, is a little choppy in the first half. Given that Gunn was stitching together new characters with old and new motives, it starts to feel like a lot is going on. The flashbacks from Rocket’s experimental days, the side plot of Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) and Adam Warlock, and the Guardians’ chase to retrieve the data to help Rocket are packed together in half-hour, which feels a tad bit heavy. However, Gunn irons it out well once the pawns are placed.
Despite the loaded series of events, Gunn manages to keep the pace on point, not letting you realise that you have sat through two and a half hours without looking at your phone. Gunn is amazingly supported by his team of visual artists. The detailing behind the animals caged up and created in the name of experimentation, the mammoth planets created for the storytelling, and the spaceships used in the film feel real life-like. I thoroughly enjoyed how the makers did push the envelope with Groot, visually, allowing him to soar high in the sky.
I am, however, disappointed with the limited scenes given to Will Poulter as Adam Warlock. Gunn is aware that he has picked a good actor who has aced all that was given to him on the study table. But with the much-hype around his character, he seems to be limited to just a few scenes, leaving fans excited to see him high and dry.
What is a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 review if music is not mentioned? The movie treats you to an interesting mix of songs. The song that truly stood out for me was — possible spoiler — an acoustic version of Radiohead’s massive hit number Creep playing while Rocket sang along a few selected lines, showing his state of mind. This was my personal favourite musical moment from the movie.
On the acting front, Chris Pratt finally departs from the actor we had met in 2014 when the first Guardians of the Galaxy released, — a young, cute-looking actor turned on-screen superhero, and shows much more shades and versatility in Guardians of the Galaxy 3. The actor shines in most scenes, leaving a lasting impression. Unfortunately, he is outshone by everyone in the movie.
Zoe Saldana, who has had the biggest playground to explore her numerous acting shade through the three movies, impresses as Gamora 3.0. Karen Gillan as the constantly angry but much more expressive Nebula has numerous scenes in which you cannot take your eyes off her. Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff already proving with the Christmas special that they can light up the screen and how with their on-screen chemistry, they take things several notches up in GotG 3, making them a delight to watch. Dave also shines individually courtesy of his silly scenes.
Undeniably, Rocket is the soul of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. You laugh with him, cry with him and celebrate with him.
Bottom line: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is a treat for James Gunn fans. It truly feels like an end of an era for MCU fans and the filmmaker will be missed. PS: Stay back for the shocker of a post-credit scene.
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