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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 Review: A Marvel movie with meaning

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Pom Klementieff, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista in a scene from Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo: OSV News photo/courtesy Disney
Pom Klementieff, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista in a scene from Marvel Studio’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Photo: OSV News photo/courtesy Disney

It’s Gunns blazing for Marvel as their latest film seeks to honour the end of a beloved franchise and director.

In his swansong for the long-running Marvel comics film franchise, filmmaker and new co-CEO of DC Studios James Gunn has written and directed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, the final chapter to his star-studded superhero team-up saga.

Picking up after the events of the Guardians Holiday Special, the crew are now living in Knowhere, a city built inside the head of a celestial being.

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Although Nebula (Karen Gillian), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista) are trying to make the most of it, Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) has fallen into a state of depression over the death of Gamora (Zoe Saldana).

This all changes when a genetically engineered killing machine, named Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), smashes through the celestial city seeking Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and the destruction of the Guardians.

The Guardians manage to stave off the attack but a deadly blow leaves Rocket mortally wounded.

Unfortunately, not even an ambiguously powerful medipack can heal Rocket, as Nebula and Mantis discover the existence of a “kill switch” on his heart that prevents anyone from messing around with his biology.

If they want to save his life, the team must track down Rocket’s creator and retrieve the code that will override this inhumane implant.

After heist and hijinks, their search ultimately leads to the ultra-powerful High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), who’s obsessed with genetically engineering the ideal species for a utopian society.

This encounter reveals much of Rocket’s past, purpose and his part in the High Evolutionary’s pursuit for perfection.

As the Guardians meet his maker, they have to battle their friend’s demons as well as their own.

Gunn’s final film in Marvel’s multi-million dollar franchise is the darkest, most confronting and most personal of the trilogy.

Taking full ownership of the script, Gunn puts up a straight-forward story that affords him the time and opportunity to delve deeper into his characters and address serious issues of loss, sacrifice, belonging and ultimate purpose.

Its raw and restrained commentary on grief gives weight to a brand more known for ironic quips.

The protagonists are likewise given depth, particularly Rocket and Quill, building a real emotional connection with audiences.

Gunn gives the audience one of the most ruthless comic book villains to hit screens.

Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) in Marvel Studio's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3". Photo: OSV News photo/courtesy Disney
Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) in Marvel Studio’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”. Photo: OSV News photo/courtesy Disney

The High Evolutionary’s immoral acts and disregard for life are not written off as a symptom of some sad backstory. He is just evil.

In short, it breaks the Marvel mould and gives the audience what it has been missing from the franchise since Spiderman: No Way Home.

Though it definitely surpasses many of the recent superhero films, Guardians Vol. 3 does fall victim to Marvel’s reliance on one-liners and ensemble casts, leading to an inconsistent tone.

The incredibly large cast complicates what could be a straightforward story, and many core characters like Gamora (Zoe Saldana) are forced to the sidelines.

The long-awaited addition of Adam Warlock, a pivotal character in the Marvel series of comic books, was another missed opportunity.

Marvel first teased Adam Warlock entry into the MCU in a post-credit scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in 2017.

Adam was foreshadowed as the antagonist for the final film but was instead cast as the immature lackey of the High Evolutionary, an odd subplot that bloats the film’s runtime to a hefty two and a half hours.

The visual effects, cinematography and soundtrack are some of Marvel’s best work (as one might have hoped at this late stage in the franchise) and bring the many strange creatures and worlds to life in exquisite detail.

Moving, meaningful but messy, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 triumphs as a tribute marred by a few familiar bad habits of the genre

Rated M for Intense scenes of violence, science fiction themes and coarse language, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is currently showing in cinemas across the country.

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