The GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movies have been the most offbeat and fun of the Marvel movies, and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, the third installment in this series, is no exception.
Even with a serious plot— a race against time to save Rocket’s life— the movie contains enough shenanigans and quirky conversations to keep this most recent installment a lighthearted affair.
The biggest reason for this consistency is that all three films were written and directed by James Gunn, who has quite the interesting resume, as he has achieved success with comedies, superhero films, and horror movies. He even worked for Marvel’s rival DC, and created a movie I liked every bit as much as the first GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movie, THE SUICIDE SQUAD (2021), which was my favorite superhero movie that year. He is a master at writing witty, snappy, and flat-out funny dialogue.
I had a blast watching GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, even with its serious plot. When Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is injured with a life-threatening wound, the Guardians, our friendly neighborhood protectors of the universe, discover that they cannot treat him, that his body has been encrypted with a suicide device if he is tampered with, which leads the Guardians to a search for Rocket’s origins so they can learn how to diffuse the device and save his life.
Through a series of flashbacks, we learn Rocket’s origin story, and it’s not a pretty picture. He was created in a lab by a cold-hearted scientist known as The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), who would have felt right at home on the set of STRANGER THINGS experimenting on the likes of Eleven, only his experiments are far worse. Rocket spends his youth with his closest friends, animals who have also been experimented on, and they dream of the day when they will be free from their cages, but freeing them is not part of The High Evolutionary’s plan. All these years later, The High Evolutionary is still at it, creating worlds and destroying them when he’s not happy with the result. He is also obsessed with capturing Rocket again, as Rocket was his most successful experiment, and so he welcomes the news that the Guardians are on their way to him to learn the secret of saving their friend.
And that’s the main plot of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, which really is secondary to watching the Guardians interact on screen.
It’s been a tough time for Star Lord aka Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) as he’s still lamenting the loss of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who’s not dead, but since returning to life after the Thanos purge, has lost all her memories and does not remember being in love with him. Chris Pratt has always been fun in the Peter Quill role, and he’s just as fun here in Vol. 3.
In fact, you can say the same for the rest of the characters as well. Dave Bautista as Drax gives probably my favorite performance in the movie. Drax gets the best lines and for my money is the funniest character in the series. Pom Klementieff is enjoyable as Mantis, and she and Drax share many fun scenes together.
Karen Gillan gets more screen time as Nebula, and we get to know her character more in this installment. Vin Diesel voices Groot, and he gets his share of moments. And Bradley Cooper gets more serious scenes this time around in the very dark story of Rocket’s origins.
Chukwudi Iwuji is okay as The High Evolutionary. He’s more sinister early on. By film’s end, he becomes a more traditional mad scientist, and the character ends up being less menacing than we was at the beginning of the movie.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 provides a good mix of laughs and drama. I laughed a lot, as did the very large movie audience I saw it with— which is a very good thing, by the way. It seems more and more movies these days I’m watching in near empty theaters.—. And it does this even as its plot covers themes like ruthless experiments on animals, mindless destruction of entire planets, the rescue of children, and in the film’s final reel a rescue of a myriad of animals which resembles something out of Noah’s Ark.
The one thing I wasn’t crazy about in this movie is we don’t really get to see the Guardians together all that much. They’re all involved in their separate mini adventures as they attempt to rescue Rocket. And when finally, they are reunited at film’s end, we’re met with the news that some of the Guardians are going their separate ways. As Rocket complains, “We’re breaking up?” Indeed, they are, as the film previews what the next variation of Guardians will look like, while others are going off on solo and smaller group projects. I’m all about evolving, but I also enjoy revisiting successful stories, and the present group of Guardians, certainly had not worn out their welcome yet.
Also, in typical Marvel movie fashion, there are scenes after the end credits, including one at the very end, so if you want to see it, you’ll have to wait till all the credits have rolled.
My favorite GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY movie remains the first one from 2014, but I enjoyed this third installment more than the second film in the series, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017).
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 is nothing new, but that’s not a bad thing. The characters here are all fun and quirky, and their interactions make for an enjoyable two and a half hours at the movies. It’s all well-written and directed by James Gunn, and it looks amazing as well, filled with bright stunning and colorful visuals throughout.
And oh yeah. It features a worthy soundtrack of tunes which would make Peter Quill proud.
I give GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 three stars.
Four stars – Perfect, Top of the line
Three and a half stars- Excellent
Three stars – Very Good
Two and a half stars – Good
Two Stars – Fair
One and a half stars – Pretty Weak
One star- Poor
Zero stars – Awful