Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: A Spectacular, Spirited, and Often Funny End to the Franchise
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has come a long way since its inception almost a decade ago. From Chris Pratt’s puppyish comedy turn on TV’s Parks and Recreation to his hunky action-lead image in the franchise, the series has evolved. The franchise has also reportedly triggered a massive global sales upturn in audio cassettes, thanks to Pratt’s lovable hero Quill’s addiction to 70s/80s hits on his vintage Walkman, although an iPod is seen in this film. The franchise has also seen writer-director James Gunn go through a complete cancelling-uncancelling cycle, fired and then forgiven for offensive tweets.
Now, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has reached its threequel stage, and while it may be overlong, it’s still spectacular, spirited, and often funny. The movie attempts to provide emotional closure, perhaps inspired by Gunn’s own corporate redemption, but falls short. Nevertheless, it leaves the GOTG brand open for a next-gen reboot.
In this installment, the Guardians are in a state of emotional disarray, with Quill pining for Gamora, who was killed in Avengers: Infinity War but now exists as a time-travelled alt-self split from Quill and the group. She has no memory of their previous relationship and is now working with the Ravagers. A mysterious golden figure, Adam Warlock, swoops in and unsuccessfully attempts to kidnap Rocket, leaving him seriously injured and on life-support. It turns out that Rocket is a piece of intellectual property, a bioform invented by the sinister High Evolutionary, who had been using him as part of his plan to develop a new post-earthling master race on Counter-Earth. Rocket turns out to be a genius whose vision the HE needs, working with his high priestess, Ayesha. Now, the Guardians must journey to confront the High Evolutionary to save Rocket’s life and ultimately, the future of the galaxy.
The scene-stealer of the movie turns out to be the good-natured, beefy Drax, played by Dave Bautista, who shows off his comedy chops. His character, apparently violent and unsentimental, turns out to be a favourite with little kids, an idea going back to Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai. The rest of the cast, including Groot, Drax, Mantis, and Nebula, each have their moments to shine.
The movie’s hefty length of 20 minutes longer than Vol. 2 and 28 minutes longer than Vol. 1 signals the narrative importance of this (apparently) final movie episode. However, the sense of an ending is undermined by the suspicion that the movie’s constituent characters are each simply going to be reshuffled into the Marvel Cinematic Universe at some stage in the future. Nevertheless, Gunn always brought energy and fun to his Guardians, and it will be sad to see them go. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a spectacular, spirited, and often funny end to the franchise.