Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3

Over the past few years, Marvel has had a rocky journey with their cinematic universe. Eternals, Thor: Love and Thunder, and, more recently, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania haven’t hit the high notes of past successes since Avengers: Endgame. In fact, many have written the company off. Now we have Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, the third and final part of the company’s most successful inclusion. While James Gunn has left Marvel to work for DC, he has left the company with the best Marvel movie in years that is funny, exciting, emotional and dark. It’s a rollercoaster ride that I definitely didn’t want to end.

With Peter Quill still grieving over the death of Gamora and the rest of the Guardians trying to hold everything together, it brings a sudden attack that leaves Rocket badly injured to bring Peter out of a slump. They discover that Rocket has a kill button inside him, so the gang go on a mission to save their friend, while Rocket’s past catches up with him in a very dark way, and an old face comes back to mix things up within the Guardians.

James Gunn has taken a band of misfits from one of the lesser-known comics and turned them into superstars. The reason the film has worked so well is the elements of surprises. He knows that these films are nonsense, yet he respects every inch of these characters. Without that level of respect, we wouldn’t have the emotional effects that this final film delivers, and I have to say, it has more emotional punch than most dramas have.

All the things that have made the past films so successful are smart one-liners and plenty of comic moments, brimming with well-executed set pieces and a needle-drop soundtrack to die for. Over the past two films, Gunn has really put flesh on these characters, so we feel what they feel, laugh with them, cry for them, and cheer when they win. Now, Gunn has upped the anti, and while these things that have made the series work are all present and correct, he has added another level of pure, heartbreaking emotion.

The film jumps back and forth to explain Rocket’s backstory. The popular, wise-cracking, gun-welding racoon has never been the full focus of a film. Still, now he gets a chance to take centre stage, and it’s a bleak, disturbing and shocking journey of a young creature being used for experiment by the villain, The High Evolutionary. The film does need a word of warning if you are easily upset by cruelty to animals; even though we know these are creations of the excellent CGI unit, you still feel affected by what these animals are put through.

Gunn expertly juggles the multiple strands of the story as we flip from Rocket’s flashbacks to one group of the Guardians to another, without ever once dropping the ball. You are never bogged down with the subplots; instead, you are guided through the mix of laughs, tears and excitement with a wonderful visual eye and a wonderful soundtrack that includes the likes of Radiohead, Earth, Wind and Fire and Bruce Springsteen.

Of late, the effects from Marvel have been below par, but here they are back on track, with an array of visual treats to enjoy and full-on space battles. Yet even though this is an effects-heavy movie, it never gets in the way of a sharp script and a cast that has obviously gelled over the years; they bounce off each other easily. Even the newcomers fit into this world like they are old friends returning.

Led by Chris Pratt as Quill, the cast all have their moments. Nice to see Bradley Cooper’s Rocket getting more screen time. Will Poulter is perfect as Adam Warlock, the latest new edition to the Guardians clan. Chukwudi Iwuji brings a genuinely evil and really interesting villain, even if he doesn’t believe it.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3 is exactly what you hoped it would be. It’s fun, funny, brimming with charm and excitement. What you don’t expect is to be tearful almost all the way through. Yes, you will have a great time but be prepared to come out an emotional wreck. If this is the last Guardians movie, they are bowing out on a high. James Gunn will be sadly missed from the Marvel Studios canon, but he leaves behind a wonderful blockbuster that is everything you would want from a popcorn movie.

5 out of 5

Director: James Gunn

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillen, Pom Klementieff, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Chuukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Sylvester Stallone, Sean Gunn

Written by: James Gunn

Running Time: 150 mins

Cert: 12A

Release date: 3rd May 2023

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