I remember when Guardians of the Galaxy was coming out back in 2014. I thought to myself, “I love niche/lesser known characters but what are these dudes bout to do on the big screen?” The movie came out, and I promptly shut the hell up. Guardians of the Galaxy was an example of as long as the story is good, you don’t need well known characters to headline it. The story will push the audience to care about the characters. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a culmination of nine years of storytelling, and my god did they stick the landing here in more ways than one.
The premise of the movie stems around the Guardians of the Galaxy as a found family. We enter the film as Rocket (Bradley Cooper) takes a stroll through the space city of Knowhere and get a glimpse of the community that he and his teammates have built here for its citizens. As Rocket continues his stroll, the contrast of the life booming outside gets juxtaposed against Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) alone in a room drinking due to losing the Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) the team knew, and the Gamora that remains has no idea of her previous life or love with Peter. The team is at a loss for how to deal with Quill, but they don’t get much time as they are suddenly attacked by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). Warlock’s attack sets in motion a race against time as Rocket is gravely injured, and the key to his survival lies in the Guardians delving into their teammate’s past.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Doesn’t Break the Chain
I refer to the Guardians of the Galaxy as a team but the better word would be a family. Where in Vol. 2 the focus was on the father/son dynamic, this movie focuses on aspects of family. The good, the bad, and the frustrations of dealing with family are present within this movie spectacularly. We see it in how Peter snaps out of his loathing when his friend is in trouble and everyone else follows suit. The audience gets a barrage of dynamics between all these characters. From Nebula’s (Karen Gillain) frustration with Drax (Dave Bautista) not following orders, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) not looking before she leaps, and Groot (Vin Diesel)…no notes, you’re doing great. However, we see how from Mantis’ point of view, Nebula criticizes everything. James Gunn did a great job with these issues everyone has with one another boiling over at the climax of the movie.
Gamora’s dynamic within the group is that she doesn’t have one, save for her relationship with her sister Nebula. Zoe Saldaña did an incredible job of showing us exactly who Gamora is had she never got involved with the Guardians. This Gamora will literally blow your brains out to get what she needs. No joke. I loved ever interaction of Peter trying to get Gamora to return to him and the Guardians being met with resistance. This Gamora is selfish, un-empathetic, and everything the Gamora we knew, was not. Peter is surprised by this, but Nebula isn’t. Nebula is the only person familiar with this version of Gamora. I thought this was a brilliant touch on Gamora and Nebula’s dynamic, while keeping the audience wondering if this Gamora was ever going to come around.
The Dog Days Ain’t Over
Something that I really appreciated throughout this film was how the issue and feeling of loss is addressed. Peter Quill has been going through it since he was eight, fam. Lost his mom, taken from his world, lost his adoptive dad, then his partner. At this point, Peter got his own section in Hallmark cards cause the trauma is at an all-time high. With Rocket’s life on the line, we see a man on a mission to save his friend. Quill is very adamant about not killing folks en route to save Rocket until he sees glimpses into Rocket’s backstory and what was done to him. Once Quill sees what was done to Rocket, when faced up against those responsible, his feelings switch up real quick.
Speaking of Rocket, though he is incapacitated through the majority of the movie, his backstory is used as a narrator as well as a break in the humor and adventure. Again, I won’t spoil his past, but James Gunn stuck very closely to the source material for Rocket’s backstory in terms of what makes him so great. Gunn was able to show that Rocket has a brilliant mind, just in case the audience may have forgotten. We also see, just like Peter Quill, how vicious Rocket can be when friends and family are threatened.
Now let’s get into the villain of the hour. The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). I don’t say this about many people or villains but this the most mother fucker muh fugga I done ever met. He’s got a pretentious upper echelon charm but my god, what an asshole. High Evolutionary is basically a being that’s been pushing the evolution of his subjects and is trying to create a higher society. His name rings out through the universe as someone you do not want to mess with. Chukwudi Iwuji’s performance really brought this villain to life.
I found this man vile, cruel, and in desperate need of a punch to the face. High Evolutionary truly sees himself above all, especially the subjects of his creation. The dynamic between him and Rocket explains a lot of Rocket’s nature. There’s a blaring theme of oppression and classism here that’s thrown into the mix for this movie as well. Subjugation, liberation, freedom, and value are all brought into the mix with High Evolutionary as the big bad. Not to compare and contrast villains….as I’m about to compare and contrast villains but I could see High Evolutionary as a the Guardian’s Kang level threat. Regardless, High Evolutionary had no redeeming qualities and is not a justified villain at all. Mans is just a straight up jerk, which is fine. It’s nice to go back to a villain being bad just because it’s who they are for a bit.
We Love the All, the All of You
I enjoyed the movie, but it’s obviously not without its flaws as well. There’s a lot of campiness going on, but it’s balanced by the earnestness of the film. There are certain tropes that take place where I wish there was a different spin used to approach a cliche shot or line. There’s a “believe in yourself” scene with Kraglin (Sean Gunn) that you know is coming. However, none of this was enough to turn me off from the film or make me call it a bad movie. There was always something that was funny, witty, or heart wrenching that covered for any cliché that appeared. Kraglin was a great support character that comes into his own within this film, right alongside Cosmo (Maria Bakalova). They are a great pair together, and their interaction with the group and each other was yet another display of all the different dynamics at play in this film.
I have no problem watching this movie again, and a big part of that stems from the journey that we take with this cast. There’s something to be said about the ending of the film as well. There was a way they could have gone with the ending of the film, and I am glad that that path was not taken. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is fun, man. I can’t tell you otherwise. It’s a great balance between humor, loss, and the next chapter. I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed the film. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wacky, it’s weird, but the fact that the movie leans into that makes it enjoyable as well. You’re goin’ wanna put this movie up high on your playlist.