Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’

Director: James Gunn

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Butista, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Vin Diesel, Pom Klementieff, Will Poulter, Maria Bakalova, Chukwudi Iwuji, Daniela Melchoir, Elizabeth Debicki

Plot: The Guardians of the Galaxy have established a new settlement in Knowhere, where Star-Lord is miserable after losing Gamora. They are attacked a powerful new foe – Adam Warlock – who puts Rocket’s life in peril and they must seek out his creator to save his life.

Review: Much like Endgame tied up the stories of the original Avengers, this third volume closes the book on the widely popular Guardians of the Galaxy. The oddball gang of misfits were not well known outside of Marvel readers but James Gunn’s skill in building effective stories around unusual characters turned them into a household name. That leads us to an emotional farewell to a humanoid tree, a talking raccoon, a bug lady and more weirdos. Whilst Vol. 2 filled out Star-Lord’s backstory and forced him to confront his past, this final chapter turns the spotlight onto Rocket while giving everyone else their own scenes of closure.

We’re not given much context to the new living space found within the decaying celestial head Knowhere beyond what we saw in the Holiday Special. It appears that the Guardians – Star-Lord, Rocket, Drax, Nebula, Mantis and Kraglin (Pratt, Cooper, Bautista, Gillan, Klementieff, Sean Gunn) have established a community of sorts following the ousting of The Collector. Joining them here are some familiar faces with Cosmo the Space Dog (Bakalova) being the most significant, a long overdue addition to the series being the best of the unused comic team members. The Guardians are all chipping in with building this township except for Star-Lord who is spending his time in the bottom of a bottle trying to cope with the loss of Gamora (Saldana), a multiverse version of which is still alive but doesn’t want anything to do with him. The story kicks off proper with the explosive arrival of Adam Warlock (Poulter), a super-powered being created by Ayesha of the Sovereign.

This flying, golden, super-powerful being is targeting Rocket on the behalf of the High Evolutionary (Iwuji), a powerful scientist whose genetic experiments are in service of ‘improving’ life in the universe in addition to commercial goods. The High Evolutionary was responsible for the extreme surgical procedures that turned a baby raccoon into the foul-mouthed mercenary we all know and love and wants his work back. The attack by Adam leaves Rocket on his deathbed unless his team-mates can get access to the High Evolutionary’s files and records. They head off to Orgocorp, an organic space station, and a planet occupied by the High Evolutionary’s experiments.

It would be great to have spent more time with the new characters, as they are all great additions to the cast. Will Poulter seemed like an unconventional choice for the all-powerful glam space wizard, but as the character is characterised as a child adapting to the world Poulter is able to give a unique new take of him, a confused young person with the physical capacity to punch on with the likes of Captain Marvel. Cosmo the Space Dog provides some fun comedy, again being a powerful being but with the mentality of a dog. Bakalova, already having scored an Oscar nomination for her insane improv ability in Borat 2, delivers plenty of laughs. Unfortunately these characters don’t quite get enough room to flex as we’re here to see an established ensemble cast.

The dynamic between this team is what carries the movie. Some of the best banter comes from Nebula, Mantis and Drax, but any time we have the team together there’s endless memorable lines. It’s this energy between the cast members that makes this aspect of the MCU so successful. In spite of the characters being walking trees and alien mass murderers, these are still a likeable dysfunctional family and their struggle is an easy one to get emotionally invested in. With recent entries into the MCU getting bloated with characters and lacking narrative cohesion, this adventure being grounded with heartfelt performances and sympathetic backstories feels refreshing.

For those who have been following this unorthodox team of superheroes from their first prison break, this will prove to a be a very satisfying conclusion. They travel to some truely unusual environments that only the creator of Slither could have conjured up, with Orgocorp being as unsettling as it is well realised. We get some creative new ships and plenty of sneaky comic Easter Eggs and cameos – such as the classic Guardians uniforms. Ongoing character arcs get resolved as Star-Lord must confront his conflicted feelings for the new Gamora and Rocket must accept what he is to put his creator behind him. All in all, this is the rolling adventure you want from this gang.

Rating: NINE out of TEN