Based on the Marvel Comics series by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the third and final film in a trilogy about the gang of misfits who protect the galaxy as they face new enemies who have issues with the gang including a mysterious new foe with a dark past relating to one of its members. Written for the screen and directed by James Gunn, the film explores this gang of misfits as they learn about the origins of one of their own in Rocket Raccoon while they also deal with the return of Gamora who has arrived from an alternate timeline with little memory about her time with the team. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sean Gunn, Will Poulter, Elizabeth Debicki, Chukwudi Iwuji, Sylvester Stallone, Nathan Fillion, with the voices of Bradley Cooper, Maria Bakalova, Linda Cardellini, and Vin Diesel as Groot. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is an exhilarating and riveting film from James Gunn.
Set years after events involving Thanos and his eventual defeat and months following their kidnapping of Kevin Bacon, the film revolves around the gang of misfits who have settled into their home as they are attacked by a mysterious figure who gravely injures Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) as it relates to a new foe who has a past with Rocket prompting the team to try and save him while they learn more about Rocket’s past. It is a film that is about these misfits from different galaxies trying to one of their own despite the fact that they’re all dysfunctional with its leader Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) misses Gamora (Zoe Saldana) as a variant of hers from another timeline is around. After this attack by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) who comes from the Sovereign who still holds a grudge on the Guardians that left Rocket near death as the team are unable to operate on him. They go on an adventure to save him where they get help from the Ravagers leader Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone) whom Gamora is working for much to Quill’s surprise as she is reluctant to help the team out having no knowledge of the romance she had with Quill.
James Gunn’s screenplay does have this reflective narrative as it relates to Rocket who had been taken as a baby raccoon to be experimented on by this scientist known as the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) who is trying to create the perfect being by experimenting on animals. It is around this time Rocket befriends other creatures in the otter Lylla (Linda Cardellini), the rabbit Floor (Mikaela Hoover) and the walrus Teef (Asim Chaudhry) as they continue to be experimented with Rocket showing high intelligence and aptitude that impresses the High Evolutionary until Rocket learns about what the High Evolutionary is trying to do leading to chaos and tragedy that Rocket would never tell the gang. The narrative moves back and forth from the team trying to save Rocket and his past as they would learn about Rocket’s past during a heist with Gamora to retrieve Rocket’s file as they also learn about the High Evolutionary where they confront him though Gamora remains uninterested with her android sister Nebula (Karen Gillan) trying to persuade her. Even as they learn more about what the High Evolutionary wants to do as there is a lot at stake in not just for the universe but also in those that the High Evolutionary has experimented on.
The script doesn’t just play into the stakes of what the Guardians face but also in themselves as Quill, Nebula, Groot (Vin Diesel), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) all go through some development as it help provide some humor but also drama as they’re all desperate to save Rocket whom they care about. Gamora’s development is also crucial as she feels out of step with the team since she has no memory of ever being around them except for Nebula due to the fact that another version of her had been killed by Thanos. New members in Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and the telekinetic dog Cosmo (Maria Bakalova) stay at Knowhere as the former tries to master Yondu’s arrow trick as they would encounter the threat from the High Evolutionary where all of them bring the best in them to stop him.
Gunn’s direction is lavish as it opens with baby raccoons in a cage where a large hand retrieves the baby Rocket as it cuts to Rocket playing a song from Quill’s MP3 music player as he walks through Knowhere as Quill is passed out drunk. It is a scene that does feel like the calm before the storm when Rocket is attacked and severely injured by Warlock as it sets the tone for what it to come as it play into a conflict that the Guardians might not win. Shot largely on location at the Trilith Studios in Duluth, GA along with additional shooting in London and parts of Atlanta, Gunn maintains this sense of dread that looms into the film as it play into Rocket’s past where there are a lot of medium shots and close-ups to play into the world the young Rocket is in and his interactions with his friends inside the cage. There are also some wide shots to not just establish some of the places the Guardians go to but also deal with the situations they’re in.
There are moments that are funny as it plays into Gunn’s sensibility in mixing humor and action as well a scene where Quill tries to reach Gamora about what they had only for everyone else to hear the conversation as it is hilariously awkward. Even as Gamora complains about it in another scene as it leads to a hilarious exchange between Quill and Nebula. Still, Gunn does play into the stakes that relates to Rocket as well as what the High Evolutionary wants from him forcing the team to do what they can to protect with Gamora eventually realizing what is going on. The film’s third act has the team discover more of what the High Evolutionary is doing but also his own dark views on the world as it isn’t about perfection but really about getting rid of the things he doesn’t like to create perfection. This forces the Guardians to not only save the universe once again but to stop this madman from destroying everything that makes the galaxy so great. The film’s ending is definitely the end of something but there is an acceptance as it showcases the growth among these individuals who all mean something to each other as they’re more than just a gang. They’re a family. Overall, Gunn crafts a gripping and adventurous film about a gang of misfits trying to protect one of their own from an evil mad scientist.
Cinematographer Henry Braham does brilliant work with the film’s cinematography for the sunny daytime exterior scenes set in a planet known as Counter-Earth where animal creatures live in that is similar to Earth along with the lighting for many of the interior scenes as well as the look of Knowhere. Editors Fred Raskin and Greg D’Auria do excellent work with the editing as it does have some fast-cutting to play into the action while also creating some invisible cuts for a key fight scene in a hallway that is presented as one-entire take in a tracking shot. Production designer Beth Mickle, with set decorator Rosemary Brandenburg plus supervising art directors Alan Hook and David Scott, does amazing work with the look of the Guardians’ new ship in its interiors as well as the buildings on the planet Knowhere as well as the weird lab-like planet of Orgoscope and the High Evolutionary’s pyramid-like spaceship. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky does fantastic work with the costumes from the colorful space suits the Guardians wear at Orgoscope as well as the clothes of the High Evolutionary.
Makeup designer Mo Meinert and key hair stylist Linda Traxler do nice work with the look of some of the characters including the High Evolutionary, the human-animal hybrids at Counter-Earth and some of the other aliens that the Guardians encounter. Visual effects supervisors Stephane Ceretti and Susan Pickett, along with senior special effects supervisor Daniel Sudick, do incredible work with the look of some of the alien creatures that the team encounter as well as the design of some of the animals where there is a lot of attention to detail in the way baby Rocket looks in the close-ups as it shows how much soul is put into an animal. Sound designer David Acord does superb work with the sound in the way some of the creatures look as well as objects from the planets and such. The film’s music by John Murphy is wonderful for its mixture of electronics and orchestral elements that play into the suspense and action while music supervisor Dave Jordan creates a fun music soundtrack that features songs by Radiohead, Rainbow, Heart, Spacehog, the Flaming Lips, Alice Cooper, Earth, Wind, & Fire, The The, the Beastie Boys, Florence + the Machines, Redbone, the Replacements, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Faith No More, EHAMIC, X, and the Mowgli’s.
The casting by Sarah Halley Finn is marvelous as it feature some notable small roles and cameos from Seth Green as the voice of Howard the Duck, Pete Davidson and Lloyd Kaufman as the voices of a couple of the High Evolutionary creatures, Judy Greer as the voice of a War Pig who works for the High Evolutionary, Dee Bradley Baker as the voice of a Ravager pet in the F’saki known as Blurb that Warlock is fascinated by, Molly Quinn as a Ravager working for Ogord, Kai Zen as a child prisoner of the High Evolutionary in Phyla, Michael Rosenbaum as a high-ranking Ravager in Martinex, Tara Strong as the voice of one of Ogord’s old friends in Mainframe, Jennifer Carpenter as a Orgocorp security administrator, Daniela Melchior as a Orgocorp receptionist that Quill flirts with to get a file for Rocket, and Nathan Fillion in a hilarious small role as the Orgocorp security officer in Master Karja who always says funny things. Miriam Shor and Nico Santos are terrific in their respective roles as Recorder Vim and Recorder Theel who both work for the High Evolutionary as the former becomes troubled by her boss’ ideals while the latter is the weaker of the two who would hide something that the Guardians want.
The quartet of Noah Raskin, Linda Cardellini, Mikaela Hoover, and Asim Chaudhry are superb in their respective voice roles as baby Rocket, the otter Lylla, the bunny Floor, and the walrus Teef as animals who have been experimented with mechanical limbs and such whom the young Rocket befriends as they would be like a family to him until he learns about their fates after a successful experiment. Elizabeth Debicki is fantastic as Ayesha as the Sovereign leader who is eager to get revenge on the Guardians while is someone who fears the High Evolutionary as she was created by him. Sylvester Stallone is excellent as Ravagers leader Stakar Ogord who helps the Guardians in planning their heist while warning them about what they will face. The duo of Slate and the voice of Maria Bakalova are brilliant as Cosmo as a telekinetic Soviet dog who is one of the newer members of the Guardians as she stays behind at Knowhere while arguing with Kraglin over being called a bad dog. Sean Gunn is amazing as Kraglin as a former Ravager who is trying to master Yondu’s arrow’s weapon as he spends time arguing with Cosmo and prove his worth.
Will Poulter is incredible as Adam Warlock as a Sovereign creation who is tasked to get Rocket only for things to go wrong as he is a powerful being but has trouble understanding things since he had just come out of his cocoon. Chukwudi Iwuji is great as the High Evolutionary as a mad scientist who wants to create something perfect as he is this chilling figure that brought a lot of trauma towards Rocket and wants Rocket’s brain to complete his experiment as he is also this mad figure with powers that is hell bent on destroying everything that isn’t up to his liking or expectations. The voice of Vin Diesel is awesome as the tree-like humanoid in Groot who proves to be a cunning warrior despite only saying three words as he is also concerned for Rocket whom he sees as a father figure. Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff are phenomenal in their respective roles as Drax the Destroyer and the empathic powerful Mantis as they both provide not just comic relief but also the two who are goofs with the former often saying wrong things and the latter being the straight woman who tries to restrain Drax.
Karen Gillan is remarkable as Nebula as the android-like warrior who is desperate to save Rocket while is also trying to resolve issues with Gamora as they were both raised by Thanos where Gillan also brings some funny moments. Zoe Saldana is tremendous as Gamora as an alien warrior who is now a variant from an alternate timeline that doesn’t have memories of her time with the Guardians as she is someone still trying to find herself while dealing with stories of her romance with Quill. Chris Pratt is marvelous as Peter Quill/Star-Lord who is desperate to save Rocket as well as dealing with seeing Gamora again while is also an idiot who means well while determine to save the universe. Finally, there’s Sean Gunn and the voice of Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon as Cooper is magnificent in bringing the soul of this raccoon who hides a dark past as he is largely seen in flashbacks as someone that is filled with a lot of intelligence but also love for his friends and family.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a spectacular film from James Gunn. Featuring a great ensemble cast, dazzling visuals, high stakes in its screenplay, riveting visual effects, and a fun music soundtrack. It is a film that isn’t just full of adventure and fun but it is also a film that is about a family protecting one of their own as it plays into fallacies of perfection from the eyes of a madman. In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a tremendous film from James Gunn.
James Gunn Films: (Slither) – (Super (2010 film)) – (Movie 43-Beezel) – The Suicide Squad (2021 film)
Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers
Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man
Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Spider-Man: Far from Home
Multiverse Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - Eternals - Spider-Man: No Way Home - Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness - Thor: Love and Thunder - Werewolf by Night - Black Panther: Wakanda Forever - The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special
Phase Five: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania - The Marvels – (Deadpool 3) - (Captain America: Brave New World)
Phase 6: – (Thunderbolts) – (Blade (2024 film)) - (Fantastic Four (2024 film)) – (Avengers: The Kang Dynasty) – (Avengers: Secret Wars)
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