Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 movie review (2023)
James Gunn’s affection for the misfits shines through in his “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, where he navigates the tension between his outsider sensibilities and the corporate machinery of blockbuster franchises. He stands out as a rare filmmaker who retains his unique voice within the massive movie-making industry, a feat evident in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” While not immune to some of the typical Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) pitfalls like a lengthy runtime and explosive finale, the film brims with creativity in its filmmaking, dialogue, and performances—a quality often absent in modern superhero films.
Gunn’s willingness to embrace chaos is reminiscent of a child dismantling and reconstructing action figures into new forms. His genuine affection for these underdogs translates into a desire to witness them save the universe once more, a sentiment viewers share.
The movie commences with Rocket Racoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) tuning into Radiohead’s “Creep,” a track that sets the tone for Rocket’s journey of self-discovery. Rocket, who views himself as an outcast, comes to realize his uniqueness as the story unfolds.
The plot kicks off with a fierce attack by the golden-hued Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) on Knowhere. Rocket’s subsequent near-death experience triggers a dual narrative: his origin story in flashbacks and the Guardians’ quest to save him in the present. The mission leads them to the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), responsible for Rocket’s creation as part of an experiment to accelerate evolution on Counter-Earth.
While the ensemble cast excels, the movie grapples with an extensive roster of characters. Peter (Chris Pratt) remains emotionally unsettled over Gamora’s (Zoe Saldaña) fate, as she returns from an alternate timeline with no memory of her past. However, the film smartly pivots away from their romantic arc, centering on Rocket’s backstory instead. Gamora’s interactions with the Guardians, especially the version who loves an alternate her, add depth.
Although the movie juggles several characters, some, like Drax (Dave Bautista) and Nebula (Karen Gillan), receive limited development. Mantis (Pom Klementieff) provides comic relief, and Groot (Vin Diesel) adds his charm, yet the film occasionally feels overcrowded, with additional characters like the talking dog (voiced by Maria Bakalova), Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), and Sylvester Stallone’s return.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” shines brightest when embracing its unconventional, unpolished side, resisting the “product over art” mentality. Gunn fearlessly ventures into unsettling creature designs and tangible settings, a refreshing departure from CGI-drenched superhero films. The movie strikes a balance between spectacle and artistry, retaining its unique touch even amid obligatory MCU elements.
Gunn’s discerning choices and the committed ensemble amplify the film’s appeal. Pratt sheds his recent lackluster performances, embracing Peter Quill’s vulnerability. Saldaña revels in Gamora’s warrior persona, showcasing her ability to carry the narrative. Yet, Rocket steals the spotlight as his journey from trauma to heroism takes center stage.
Beneath the surface, a compelling theme emerges, involving Rocket’s defiance of his creator. By challenging the High Evolutionary’s authority, Rocket unsettles the villain, echoing the age-old narrative of creations rebelling against their makers. Gunn weaves this concept into the Marvel framework with subtlety, injecting depth into the film beyond its hero-villain dynamic.
While the film occasionally stumbles with its flashback-mission structure, and the expected team-ups and explosions are present, Gunn’s distinctive touch remains evident. Even in familiar moments, his personality shines through in music choices and evocative imagery, occasionally pushing the boundaries of younger viewers’ comfort. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” serves as a reminder that standout blockbusters transcend convention, exemplified by Gunn’s ability to make familiar elements his own. In the end, we’re all misfits, a sentiment Gunn champions, reinforcing that we’re all remarkably unique.
Catch “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” now in theaters .
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