The third installment in the popular Marvel film series proves that Marvel can still make a good film– thanks to James Gunn.
“Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3” begins with the familiar group of rag-tag heroes – Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Groot (Vin Diesel) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) – living their lives as usual when suddenly Adam, a gold-skinned killing machine– played by Will Poulter– arrives to disrupt them. During this fight, Rocket is severely injured. The group discovers they must retrieve a code to save him with the help of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). This means going against the unhinged High Evolutionary (played by Chukwudi Iwuji), who created Rocket and others like him years prior. It is packed full of emotional gut-punches, funny jokes and touching moments.
The “Guardians” series has always managed to be at the top of the pack regarding MCU films, but with Marvel’s current state it was uncertain if the third film would maintain this appeal. However, it is by far the best Marvel film in years.
The film is considerably darker than most of Marvel’s other work, and takes full advantage of its PG-13 rating (slight spoiler: if you are an animal lover, you will probably cry). Rocket’s backstory is horrific and the villain is imposing. Director James Gunn is known to utilize more intense and gross creatures and imagery in his non-Marvel projects, and this carries over in “Vol. 3.” This brought a fresher feeling to the film. However, the film does maintain the enjoyable lighter moments that the other two also have.
In terms of the effects, the CGI actually looks quite good, as do the visuals in general, which is also refreshing given Marvel’s problems with visual effects. It doesn’t appear that the actors are standing stiffly in front of a green screen for the whole film, unlike recent Marvel installations.
The film is not completely free of flaws; a few people have said it is too heavy-handed with the emotional aspects, which is debatable. The emotions do run high, but it feels earned and genuine; the “Guardians” films have always balanced humor and tragic scenarios, though this one did start off a little rougher than the others. The beginning is a tad choppy and uneven in tone, which makes it awkward at first, but it moves past it quickly. The character of Adam Warlock is slightly underused/underdeveloped, so it is likely he will be seen again. It seems overall, the emotional side is effective and made the conclusion to this trilogy all the more impactful.
The film managed to actually feel connected to the others in the trilogy, and not rely on other Marvel projects for context. The soundtrack is solid, of course, and there are plenty of nostalgic nods to the first film. It is ultimately satisfying and heartwarming, strengthened by its strong emotional center that a lot of recent Marvel films have been missing. This further proves that Marvel’s other films have been severely lacking in quality, and that it is possible to still produce a good one.