Written by on May 18, 2023

“What a bunch of a-holes.” is what was uttered in the original trailer for the first Guardians of the Galaxy when it was coming out in 2014. It was a signal that this was not another comic book, superhero movie that you had seen before. My limited knowledge of comic books had me groaning that THIS would be the movie – featuring a talking raccoon that would stop all superhero movies. When Iron Man came out and got the juggernaut of a ball rolling there were people that didn’t know who the character was, but a great movie made them into fans nonetheless. Iron Man was at least a pretty mainstream character that had cartoons on TV in the 60s-90s decades, but here came this group that not a lot of people had heard of with a limited fan base and a talking tree that only says 3 words. How was this going to be received? The answer: abundantly positive! In fact, GOTG became one of Marvel’s biggest hits and drew in non-comic fans by the droves. I know people that never watched a Marvel movie until it came out and then got hooked on them all. I was wrong to think that the geniuses over there would risk putting a dud out there in the middle of everything else they were attempting to tie together. Here we are nine years later and the Guardians are still a fan favorite after appearing in two of their own movies, Infinity War, Endgame, and at the beginning of the latest Thor movie. As much as they are basically antiheroes who do most of their acts for pay and glory they all have hearts of gold that make them lovable losers. With some third installments of Marvel movies not hitting the mark as well as fans wanted them to would Vol 3 hit the same snag?

Guardians Vol 3 starts off differently with the team not on any other adventure, but running the planet Knowhere where they reside. The team has remained pretty much the same throughout with Peter Quill/Starlord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). Gamora (Zoe Saldana) was in the first two movies, but was sacrificed in Avengers: Infinity War which left Peter bereft of the only woman he ever loved. However, in Endgame she was resurrected as a past version of herself was brought forward in time and stuck here. She is not the same person in experiences though so she doesn’t have any memories of being part of their “family” or her love for Peter because she skipped over those years. Clear as mud, right? Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) joined the team in Vol 2 as they both broke free from the overlords that commanded them. The latest threat is Rocket needing medical attention and trying to find the means to save him. The story revolves around The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) whose main goal is to make the perfect being by tampering with the genetics of any life form he can get his hands on. In fact, some of the characters from the previous movies were made by him. It is not mere science to him. It is an obsession that he can’t let go of and will dive to any depths to accomplish. This includes destroying entire civilizations on a whim. Can the team get their stuff together long enough to save Rocket and win the day while also being extremely funny and packing in adventure and awesome fight scenes is the question at hand. The answer is a booming, yes!

Saldana and Bautista have both said this would be the last time they would be playing their respective characters. So, it has been known this would be their last time together as a team barring any reunions for some of the bigger Avengers movies on the slate. Pratt plays Starlord with teenage whimsy and cockiness even though he is the leader and their headquarters is a port of calling that he tries to manage. The not-from-this-timeline Gamora is a space pirate off doing her own thing while the rest try to keep Knowhere running. Peter just can’t get over his love for Gamora and Rocket seems to be holding on to something as well from his past. Iwuji’s performance as High Evolutionary is absolutely captivating as he becomes unhinged from moments of complete calm. He is obsessed with finding Rocket and uses some old foes of the Guardians to track him down. You might want to go back and watch Vol 2 to get reacquainted. The movie goes between what is currently happening and Rocket’s past. It constantly tugs at your heartstrings and gets your emotions going while balancing that with great action scenes and comedic moments that swing you from one feeling to the other. Director and writer James Gunn really put all his heart mind into these movies and crafted them around the actors’ talents. And as the late, great John Hughes would use songs to help tell his stories Gunn also picks some of the best moments to fuse the song with the scene heightening it’s impact. Bautista and Klementieff really shine in this movie and are allowed to be more than just their characters’ general traits. They provide comic relief, but aren’t shoved to the back of the story. GOTG Vol 3 ties up loose ends without simply placating the fans, and does it with a heart not normally seen in a comic book movie. It’s like watching The Breakfast Club trying to merge all those personalities together as they are all lost in some way just trying to find their way in the galaxy. They are a family and that theme is uttered throughout the film. However, can this family stay together with as broken as they are as individuals? As always, stay until the end of the credits. If you’re into these movies then you will be very happy with the end to this story even if at the same time it breaks your heart.

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