Released: 3rd May
Seen: 3rd May
When it comes to the many franchises that make up the MCU, it’s arguable that one of the most surprising of them all is the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Based on one of the most obscure Marvel comics out there, the first Guardians movie took the MCU into space and, effectively, introduced the character Thanos to the franchise as an actual character in the narrative instead of as an end credits gag. The second Guardians movie somehow managed to be even better, funnier and more emotional with grander stakes that showed just what these characters were capable of.
It was a glorious set of films and we were all promised a third film that would come quickly… and then a bunch of fascists pretended to take some of the director’s old Edgelord jokes far too seriously and got him fired, meaning there was a chance that we might never get the third film in the Guardians franchise. Fortunately, Disney came to its senses and (after he was done making The Suicide Squad, still the best DC film of recent years) rehired James Gunn and allowed him to make the end of their Guardians trilogy. Thank goodness they did that because I don’t want to live in a world where we were denied this film.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 picks up shortly after the Christmas Special where our ragtag group of weirdos known as the Guardians are making a life on the planet Knowhere. Things are going fine until one day a strange being comes to try and kidnap Rocket (Bradley Cooper). Turns out Rocket had the exact kind of horrific past that you might imagine a genetically altered racoon would have and the being that created him, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), wants Rocket back so he can continue his studies.
With Rocket in serious danger, not only because of the High Evolutionary but thanks to an interstellar being called Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) who has been tasked with finding Rocket, it’s up to Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Groot (Vin Diesel) to find the High Evolutionary and stop him… of course, they might need a little help from a recently revived, and completely different, Gamora (Zoe Saldaña).
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 continues the franchise’s legacy of exploring the concept of family, very pointedly leaning into how family isn’t those who created you but those who love you. They do this via the very intense metaphor of Rocket literally being created through torture (which can be read as a thinly veiled nod to gay conversion therapy, if you want to read it that way because it’s very easy to read a queer subtext into this franchise) and it’s powerful. If you haven’t caught on by now that the Guardians are meant to be the ultimate found family then this film is going to hammer that into your head over and over again because they really want you to remember the importance of a found family.
It certainly helps that the High Evolutionary, which in the family metaphor would be Rocket’s birth father, is also a massive crazy fascist who is trying to create a race of perfect beings and will do a mild genocide anytime that he gets a chance. Let’s be blunt here, High Evolutionary is a straight-up Nazi who is doing insane experiments on innocent creatures and children and is possibly the evilest character that’s been thrown in an MCU movie up to this point, which is saying a lot considering some of the villains we’ve seen before in this universe. He’s absolutely despicable as a villain, a true horror that feels almost impossible to beat and he’s completely captivating every single second that he’s on screen. You’re almost scared to look away because if you do, he might just leap off the screen and do some experiments on you.
While the main focus of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 revolves around Rocket, his past and the evil torturous being that created him, there’s also the story of Peter and Gamora that the film has to deal with. For those who have somehow missed two of the biggest movies of the last decade, Gamora died in Avengers: Endgame and the version of her that’s in this film is actually one who was brought here via a time machine, basically the Gamora from just before the first Guardians movie. Basically, not the same Gamora that Peter was in love with just one film ago and this film actually has to deal with that.
There’s an undeniable reality that Peter is seeing the woman who he loved and mourned walking around as though nothing happened and he still has feelings that she can’t reciprocate and it’s a big damn deal that the film doesn’t shy away from. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 explores that in detail, allowing for more chances for Peter to grow up (something he’s been resisting since the day we first met him) and become a little more independent. It’s a powerful story that answers a lot of questions that fans have had since Endgame and it answers them well, certainly in a way that’ll hopefully make the audience happy.
If that doesn’t make the audience happy then the insanely beautiful visuals will. The Guardians franchise has a habit of being one of the most visually stunning franchises in the MCU, after all these are space travelers so they can just go and visit weird visually interesting planets but this film is on a whole other level. It knows how to play the audience visually, with bright colours and a vibrant tone when it wants to be lighthearted before managing to effortlessly turn the scenery into a hellfire when the time comes to be dramatic. Every single frame is worthy of study, every shot choice is immaculate and some just force you to sit up and cheer (I defy any audience member to not want to cheer during the long take over No Sleep Till Brooklyn).
Speaking of No Sleep Till Brooklyn, once again this film kills it in the soundtrack department. From the emotionally stunning opening set to Creep to the joyous heartwarming use of Dog Days Are Over, every song choice enhances what’s happening in the story in a way that few other films know how to do. Guardians has always been in part defined by how powerful its soundtrack is, there’s a reason the main character walks around with a walkman all the time and this film makes sure to utilize that as much as possible.
Many of the actors have said that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 would be their last time going through the Marvel universe and if this is where they want to end it they really picked the right spot. This feels like a great final chapter for every character, a way to wrap up so many stories in ways that are overwhelmingly satisfying. There doesn’t feel like there are any loose ends left dangling so they can drag everyone back, though it’s almost inevitable that some of them will come back because the mouse pays well and inevitably they’re going to want to top the ending of Endgame somehow but if this is where we end up leaving most of the Guardians then this is a great way to do that.
Honestly, the only thing slightly negative to point out is that before the film began it did give an epilepsy warning for some flashing lights (something I don’t remember seeing in the actual cinema before so kudos for that) but I’ll be honest, had they not said anything I wouldn’t have noticed any seizure causing lights and anyone who has read this blog long enough knows that I notice that shit and I dock films harshly for doing it. Hell, I literally invented an award to give films with strobe lights called the “This film tried to kill me” award because I am that annoyed by them so if I miss the lights when I’m looking for them, that should say something. My best guess is that a few of the scenes with electricity might set some people off but nothing outrageously noticeable to me, though if you notice what might have warranted that warning then leave a comment about it so others can be warned but it’s so minor that it was completely missable by me, a giant pedantic asshole who never shuts up about that sort of thing.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 feels like a miracle. It’s a film we almost didn’t get due to some stupid shenanigans but when we got it, we got a film that dances around every emotion you can think of, nails all of them perfectly, introduces some fun new characters to the franchise and closes off a ton of stories in a satisfying way. It’s absolutely brilliant from start to finish, a glorious display of talent from everyone involved that shows that the MCU still has a lot left in it.
Also there’s a mid-credits scene and an end-credits scene, neither are particularly essential to the overall MCU narrative but they’re both kind of cute so they might be worth staying for.
One thought on “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3 (2023) – Out Of This World”
Great review! I watched the film last night and had a great time. If you get a chance, check out my review: https://kieransmoviecorner.wordpress.com/2023/05/04/guardians-of-the-galaxy-vol-3-movie-review/