‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Spoiler-Free Review – ScreenHub Entertainment

Just like that, we’re at the end of an era. Guardians of the Galaxy was released in 2014 and writer/director James Gunn brought a crew of misfits from the bottom of the Marvel popularity ladder and made them household names overnight. Now, Gunn is the co-head of DC films, so this film acts as his swan song not only for his tenure at Marvel but for the Guardians themselves. Does it stick the landing? Let’s find out.

Volume three opens up not long after the events of The Holiday Special and while it’s not critical to the plot of this movie, some major revelations from that special carry forward without explaining, so maybe watch that. This film doesn’t waste much time getting the ball rolling on the central plot. Thanks to pissing off the Sovereign in Volume 2, the Guardians are now under the crosshairs of the High Evolutionary, played by Chukwudi Iwuji. He instructs the Sovereign, who are some of his experiments, to bring him Rocket, an escaped experiment from his past. Tasked with bringing in Rocket is Adam Warlock, a supremely powerful being who ends up putting Rocket into critical condition. Fading away, the Guardians must devise a plan to try and save their friend. That plan involves theft, tomfoolery and a reunion with 2014-era Gamora.

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

While comatose, Rocket experiences a series of flashbacks to his time in the High Evolutionary’s labs and the friendships he made while a captive. Rocket is 100% the emotional heart of this movie and thankfully these scenes never pulled me out of the movie. They were intriguing, touching and quite dark even, perhaps the darkest the MCU has been. The High Evolutionary is also an interesting villain for the MCU. His pursuit of perfection does make him a maniac, but he serves more as a physiological villain for Rocket rather than a physical threat to the greater universe. There’s still action to be had in spades, but the way Gunn portrays this villain thankfully feels fresh and different, he’s not just a physical obstacle that needed to be fought. Speaking of action, there’s a stellar one-shot hallway scene near the end set to a killer track. One of the best MCU action scenes hands down.

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in many ways feels a bit more like a James Gunn movie than a Guardians movie. That’s not a bad thing though. Gunn leans heavily into his trademark style, pushing the PG-13 rating right up to its threshold. Quirky offensive humour is abound (as is the first F-bomb in the MCU), as is quite a bit of violence. This is probably the darkest and most violent offering the mainline Marvel films have offered to date and I’d definitely suggest to parents not to bring their young ones. But it isn’t just style Gunn leans into here. He knows how to juggle the dysfunctional family dynamic like a pro and can make you laugh and then cry moments later. So many tonal changes would come off as messy in less capable hands but Gunn steers the ship gracefully, allowing each member (even Drax) to get a touching moment to shine. I also like that this Gamora isn’t the one we’re used to. Being from a different timeline, she’s a different being and doesn’t have the shared experiences that evolved that version of the character. That makes her far more confrontational and isolationist than we’re used to.

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

The movie is maybe fifteen minutes too long and those familiar with the comics may stick up their noses at how radically different Adam Warlock is in the movie. Not only that, but the character is fairly one-dimensional, despite being acted well by Will Poulter. But the pros far outweigh the cons here. This is a touching, funny, tragic and complex story about purpose and family. Definitely better than Volume 2 in my opinion and a much-needed win for Marvel. This is a great sendoff not only for the individual characters in the movie, but for Gunn himself. There are two after-credit scenes, as per usual, with one having a bit of an interesting final statement. So stay tuned for that.

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