The Guardians of the Galaxy busted onto the big screen almost 10 years ago as Marvel Studios biggest and riskiest move to date. These characters have since gone from unrecognizable to iconic staples in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I have loved the Guardians of the Galaxy characters and movies they are in as they imbue a sense of fun space adventures but never forget the familial lovable heart of these band of misfits. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 delivers a fantastic conclusion to this iteration of the team while maintaining what makes the series fun. It is certainly the most mature out of their adventures but never loses sight of what made it special in the first place. With great chemistry in the cast, a fantastic backstory for Rocket, a great villain, and the emotional weight of the story, this is one film you will want to see this Summer.
Still reeling from the loss of Gamora, Peter Quill must rally his team to defend the universe and protect one of their own. If the mission is not completely successful, it could possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.
The chemistry between the cast has been one of my favorite aspects of these films, and here it is still front and center. Seeing them exchange jokes and quips with one another never gets old, even if the rest of the MCU tries to copy this formula. With Guardians of the Galaxy, however, it is something that is a staple to their movies and somethin that James Gunn incorporates very well into his scripts. Seeing the dynamics between Drax and Mantis, Peter and a newer more angry Gamora, Nebula with Groot, and even Kraglin with the new dog Cosmo, never failed to put a smile on my face. As the cast has grown, the interplay between the cast can sometimes feel a bit stretched, but it maintains the natural chemistry very well.
The highlight of this film is Rocket’s backstory, and it is absolutely the heart and soul of this film. Rocket’s backstory is equal parts tragic, heartfelt, and emotionally stirring and Bradley Cooper’s vocal performance sells all of this masterfully. Rocket has always been someone who pushes others away and has snarky comebacks towards others that have caused friction with the team, but here you really understand where he is coming from. This adds another dimension to his character that hits you right in the gut and delivers probably one of the best character arcs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, period. I was surprised how invested I got with a group of animals I had never met before and seeing Rocket’s growth from this ultimately provided a great sense of emotion I was not expecting.
This backstory is bolstered by the film’s primary antagonist in The High Evolutionary played excellently by Chukwudi Iwuji. He easily ranks among the top MCU villains due to his pure evil nature. While villains like Thanos and Killmonger had an added sympathy to their characters, The High Evolutionary is just pure evil imbuing a single mindedness, narcissitic and zealous personality. He strives for perfection and this drive makes him especially dangerous. Seeing his experimentation and madness especially when it comes to Rocket makes him despicable and that what makes him stand out. I appreciated the fact that James Gunn did not try to make him a sympathetic villain but rather made him be truly horrific. A villain is outlined by what they do, and the acts he commits make him memorable and a great antagonist for this film.
There is one smaller villain in the form of Will Poulter’s Adam Warlock. In the comics, Adam Warlock is an integral part to the Infinity War storyline. Given that he wasn’t involved in those movies, his placement in this film feels off and unnecessary. He does come in from time to time for an action sequence, but isn’t given the proper treatment he deserves. This makes the film feel longer than it needs to be, clocking in at a longer 2 hours and 30 minutes where you do feel the length. Fortunately, the action sequences make up for this delivering a standout hallway fight scene that emphasizes that Guardians true potential.
But above all, what impressed me with this film is how much effort went in to giving everyone in the film a satisfying conclusion to their character arcs. Each character gets a beautiful sendoff and wraps up in a beautifully emotional way. From where they started in the first film to now, each resolution feels earned and brought some tears to my eyes. If you are a Guardians of the Galaxy fan, this is a must see film. While the Marvel universe has started to grow stale, this one stands out amongst the pack and provides great payoff for this trilogy. Whether we see some of these characters return or not depends, but I am glad that James Gunn got the finale he deserves.
(B+) Emotionally Satisfying