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May 5, 2023 / Walt Disney Studios Canada

Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Maria Bakalova

Directed By: James Gunn

Our beloved band of misfits are settling into life on Knowhere. But it isn’t long before their lives are upended by the echoes of Rocket’s turbulent past. Peter Quill, still reeling from the loss of Gamora, must rally his team around him on a dangerous mission to save Rocket’s life—a mission that, if not completed successfully, could quite possibly lead to the end of the Guardians as we know them.

Written By Darren

Rating 5 out of 5

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is not only the perfect swan song for the Guardians as a team, but for writer director James Gunn with Marvel, resulting in Gunn’s best film to date that is a rollercoaster of laughter, action, emotions and tears, making for one of the best Marvel films of all time!

The Guardians of the Galaxy took the world by storm back in 2014 when audiences first met them. Their hilarious comedic moments made them an instant fan favourite within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while the film’s outstanding soundtrack caused a resurgence in 70s tunes being used in Hollywood. The Guardians have a very specific tone to their adventures that audiences have become accustomed to, but Gunn subverts all expectations, crafting a far heavier film that despite still having the signature comedy and music of the Guardians, is easily the most emotional film from Marvel since Avengers: Endgame. But the result is not only an unforgettable cinematic experience, it’s a fitting conclusion for the characters that is destined to be one of the year’s best films and one that fans will never forget.

Having taken up base on Knowhere, the Guardians are adjusting to their new life and team members. But when Rocket’s past catches up with him, Peter must lead the team on their most dangerous mission to date to protect Rocket and to keep their family together against the High Evolutionary, a villain unlike any they have previously faced off against.

There is a reason that the trailers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 have said very little about the story, and it is because this film never goes in the direction you expect it to be. While watching a Marvel film, and specifically a Guardians film, audiences expect a fun and entertaining watch, which is the opposite of what Gunn goes for here. Yes, there are fun moments throughout the film, including Marvel’s first F bomb which is one of the best laughs of the film, but the emotional stakes have never been higher for the Guardians. 

From the opening scene, Gunn grabs the audience by the heartstrings and takes you on a rollercoaster of an adventure as you question if our heroes will survive the film. There are so many moments that will have packed theatres sobbing uncontrollably, and even one scene that will have audiences screaming in pain that I will never be able to forgive Gunn for.

At the same time, the film explores Rocket’s origins, and there is a reason Rocket does not want to speak about it. It is a tragic, heartbreaking story that is one of the most devastating stories that have ever played out on the silver screen. But even within these moments of despair, there are resounding elements of joy that will raise your spirits as Gunn reminds you why you fell in love with the Guardians in the first place: that despite all their flaws, they are true heroes willing to do anything, including sacrificing themselves, for the greater good. As the marketing has teased, this is the conclusion to the trilogy, and the beautiful ending for each character’s arc is absolute perfection. It plays to each character’s past, giving them what they have been searching for the entire trilogy, proving that Gunn is a writer far more capable of just producing quippy one liners.

With Rocket and his past being the core of the film’s story, it is no surprise that Rocket is the MVP of the film. Cooper gives a sensational voice performance that finds a vulnerability and innocence to Rocket that we have never seen before, helping to make Rocket’s backstory the beating heart of the film. It does not take many scenes for Cooper to steal the film, but there is no denying that this is his best work as Rocket. His scenes with Linda Cardellini, Asim Chaudhry and Mikaela Hoover are the best moments of the film, creating a friendship unlike anything I have experienced in a film for a long time. And a huge shoutout to Sean Gunn who voices the younger version of Rocket, which may just be the most adorable character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (sorry Baby Groot!).

While Cooper is the standout of the film, the rest of the cast is incredible from start to finish. Chris Pratt finds an aching pain in Peter Quill, still mourning the loss of his Gamora and wrestling with his emotions as he has to work alongside a Gamora from another timeline. Zoe Saldaña is fierce as Gamora, giving audiences the most dangerous version of the character we have ever seen, while quietly processing the Guardians' way of saving the universe which is foreign to her. It is a subtle aspect of her performance, but makes for Saldaña’s best outing as Gamora. Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff continue to be a comedic tour de force as Drax, Nebula and Mantis, creating so many wonderful moments with their wacky but incredibly loveable characters. Chukwudi Iwuji is terrifying as the film’s villain, the High Evolutionary, giving the trilogy its best villain. In every scene, Iwuji is chilling in his highly calculated plan to destroy the Guardians with a disregard for life, that unlike most villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who is a physical threat, is one intellectual being that is a new type of villain for Marvel. And newcomers Will Poulter and Maria Bakalova are wonderful additions to the cast, both matching the comedic energy that this series is known for with ease.

Gunn has always had a keen eye for creating a visually stunning film, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the one of the best looking superhero films in the past few years alongside The Batman and Avengers: Endgame. The colour choices are outstanding, with so many memorable shots and homages to classic science fiction films that make this a wonderful adventure beyond your wildest imagination. Playing into this are the great action sequences, which feature outstanding choreography and an intensity that matches the emotional stakes of the film. Without a doubt, it is the hallway fight in the final act where Gunn creates the best action sequence of the film with the amazing camera work that creates a scene that audiences will be talking about for a long time.

Though, the music has always been one of the most memorable parts of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, and once again, Gunn does not disappoint and curates a perfect soundtrack. There is a wonderful mix of classic rock tunes that bring an infectious energy to the film that coincides with what audiences associate with the Guardians, as well as more emotionally charged songs that match the tone of the film, especially the use of the acoustic version of Radiohead’s “Creep” which opens the film. But, the needle drop of Forence + The Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” is the best of the film; it is one of the most joyful and beautiful scenes I have experienced in a film, only amplified by the great song choice.

While this may be the final outing with this iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy, they have gone out on the highest note imaginable that smashes all expectations audiences will have going into the film! There have been few Marvel films to capture this much emotion, but James Gunn has delivered a superhero masterpiece that will have audiences cheering, holding their breath in anticipation, and crying tears of joy and sadness throughout this epic adventure for the Guardians of the Galaxy. With incredible needle drops energizing the film, unforgettable visuals and sensational performances with Bradley Cooper stealing the film as Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a true spectacle in filmmaking that closes out one of the greatest trilogies ever made in a poignant, beautiful sendoff that fans will never forget!

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