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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (A Movie Review)


Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Rosenbaum, Stephen Blackehart, Nathan Fillion, Callie Brand, Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker and the voices of Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Maria Bakalova, Linda Cardellini, Judy Greer, Tara Strong, Asim Chaudhry and Mikaela Hoover.

Screenplay by James Gunn.

Directed by James Gunn.

Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. 150 minutes. Rated PG-13.

So, this is the way that James Gunn shuffles out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to take over at the rival DC? Some people, more cynical than I, might believe it’s all a parting shot at the MCU.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 continues the Marvel Universe’s bad luck streak, with a film that is overly busy, a bit maudlin and not nearly as funny as it thinks it is. Then again, I seem to be one of the few people who never really liked any of the films in Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy series. And, sad to say, this is the worst of the three.

Of course, part of the problem is they have mostly sidelined the most interesting character in the Guardians here. I remember in my review of the first film, I said, “There is only one [character] I would like to see more of: Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), a foul-mouthed violent raccoon with a bit of a Napoleon complex. Rocket functions as the comic relief here, but he’s also the only one of the characters with fire, passion and who has an interesting personality.”

Nothing has really changed over the years. The rest of the characters are a bit generic and not nearly as interesting as they want to be.

The problem is, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, has Rocket medically incapacitated through much of the running time, so we lose much of his jolt to the storyline. They have oddly turned it into a Rocket origin story, with a whole series of flashbacks to when Rocket was young, naïve and loving, before he was betrayed by an evil villain and became the raccoon we have gotten to know. Young Rocket is cute and sweet, but not nearly as interesting as the jaded adult he will later become.

Because Rocket is not around for much of the actual storyline, the heavy lifting falls on the less interesting characters. Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) in particular seem to be pushed to do more – and it makes you realize that while both are amusing characters in small doses, they aren’t substantive enough to pull entire storylines along.

The supposed lead Guardian, Starlord (Chris Pratt), in the meantime, is oddly emotional – both in good ways and bad. He’s still hung up on Gamora (Zoe Saldaña), even though the one he loved has died and her doppelganger here seems to despise him. At the same time, Starlord seems oddly petty and vindictive when coming up against the bad guy (Chukwudi Iwuji), even if the dude arguably deserves it.

Even the pop music mixtape of a soundtrack, which has always been one of the most entertaining parts of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, turns out to be a bit of a letdown. It’s trying a bit too hard to be hip and “music journalist cool” this time around. An obscure Alice Cooper ballad? “No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn” by The Beastie Boys? “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen? “Creep” by Radiohead? And when they finally get to the cheesy 70s AM pop hit meant to anchor the film, it is “Come and Get It” by Redbone, a perfectly decent song, but it’s no “Go All the Way” or “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).”

And frankly, having Groot break into a spontaneous dance to Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” has to be one of the cheesiest things I’ve ever seen – and not in a good way.

And so, the Guardians ride off into the sunset, and with them they take their writer/director. Honestly, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 also does not promise good things for the DCEU now that Gunn is running things there. Hopefully, this was just a little misstep that will be righted in Gunn’s new comic book universe – although early gossip makes you wonder.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2023 All rights reserved. Posted: May 5, 2023.


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