Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Spoiler-Free Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Performance

Marvel Studios may not have made as much money as they wanted on opening weekend, but a domestic debut of $118 million is nothing to scoff at. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is a winner nonetheless. In its second week, it’s holding with a box office gross of $59 million. It’s one of the best in the trilogy, superseding the first film in terms of emotional impact and character development. It’s written and directed by James Gunn, the current DC Studios head. It’s the conclusion of the Guardians trilogy and allegedly the last installment from James Gunn.

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, Peter Quill fights for the universe’s survival and to keep his team together. The aftermath of Avengers: Endgame took a toll on Peter. It’s one of the few films to address the damage done by The Blip and Thanos’s pursuit of the Infinity Stones. While grieving the loss of Gamora, things get worse for the Guardians as a new threat appears and starts wrecking shop on everyone. This entry focuses primarily on Rocket Raccoon and his tragic origin. Action set pieces and epic fight scenes are merely a bonus to the character journey viewers can experience. 

Unveiling Rocket Raccoon’s Tragic Origin

A talking, humanoid raccoon doesn’t seem out of place in the current cinematic universe Marvel Studios has created. However, ever since the first installment of Guardians of the Galaxy, there have been allusions to him not being an “evolved” species from far out in the distant future. This is evident from the cybernetic attachments shown on his body when the ragtag group got hosed down during processing. This fact, coupled with the genius level intellect in mechanical engineering, Rocket has remained a bit of a mystery on the team of guardians until now. 

Rocket Raccoon often retorts that “I’m not a raccoon” whenever identified as such. The hostility and denial in his tone hint at past trauma. Some serious cognitive dissonance exists within Rocket, which is the conflicting views or beliefs about an idea. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 explores this concept of identity in multiple ways, literally and figuratively. The theme of grief, the highlight of Phase 4, is present in childhood trauma and potential futures. 

The High Evolutionary is Formidable

The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) is responsible for Rocket’s state of being. Iwuji brought the drama. Do you understand me? The version onscreen barely resembles his comic book counterpart. Appearance aside, he is a profoundly unhinged antagonist subject to snapping at anyone in the vicinity. Iwuji as High Evolutionary is the word bigot personified. Everything he does is driven by ambition to create the perfect being, whatever that means. 

High Evolutionary exists in only two modes, silent sinister and mustache-twirling villainy. Iwuji’s time on Broadway oozes in every scene as a tormented mad scientist hellbent on being superior in every way. His performance is rivaled only by the emotional punch of flashbacks from Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper. I almost forgot Bradley’s voice—his journey from kit to gun-wielding mercenary for hire is baffling. 

A Vibrant Visual Spectacle with Heart

Shout out to the special effects department for combining practical puppets and CG animation to create animal characters. They’re compelling in how they’re presented. It’s unfair how easily they garner sympathy as ignorant, helpless beings being experimented on. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 heavily emphasizes the importance of found family and belonging. This bounds all the crew together like glue. 

Casual viewers who haven’t seen the last 30-plus Marvel Studio properties are given context and backstory through dialogue. The summaries are done well since the cast has appeared in multiple films over the last decade. Peter Quill, aka Starlord (Chris Pratt), does some real soul-searching. Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) have excellent chemistry as the stooges of the superhero team. Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) is a surprising addition, providing comic relief to all the visual noise and occasional tension. 

Independence from the MCU

Of all the previous movies in Phase 4, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 has the most stakes. Not only could they lose a valuable team member, but High Evolutionary also stands to gain more influence over the universe. Speaking of the universe, this entire story stands independent of previous MCU events from a narrative perspective. This lowers the entry bar for new fans overwhelmed by the amount of existing material. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 has moments where it looks like a glamorized music video playlist. Classic pop songs are no stranger to the genre.

However, it comes off overused this time around. Some tracks are too on the nose or unnecessary. Visually, the movie is an acid trip, with more fast-moving, colorful images than a magical girl anime. I feel it should have come with a seizure warning—another thing I found somewhat disappointing was the lack of species. The art department painted the extras in one solid color and added a prosthetic. In a movie called Guardians of the Galaxy, everyone looks very human.

There’s one highlight that must be acknowledged, and that is the fight choreography. I got one word for you, hallway. The unconventional camera angles and continuous shots of combat are incredible. Don’t think I’ve seen anything like it, ever. If you love violent action, this is the film for you. It’s probably the most violent Marvel movie, which is fantastic. Take out 45 minutes, and this is a cinematic masterpiece. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 managed to steal a 7 out of 10. 

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