‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’: An Ode to Fans and Action


(Courtesy of Marvel Studios and The Walt Disney Company)

By Zach Anderson, Arts Writer


(Spoilers Ahead: Read at Your Own Risk)

On May 5, the finale to the “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy, written and directed by James Gunn, was released in theaters. We follow Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) on their quest to save fellow Guardian Rocket (Bradley Cooper) from impending death caused by an internal malfunction of his robotic systems. All the while, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) relentlessly searches for Rocket to destroy and experiment on him with his pawn Adam Warlock (Will Poulter). Oh, Groot and Gamora (Vin Diesel and Zoe Saldana) are there too. As well as Kraglin (Sean Gunn).

Many have hailed this movie as a triumphant send-off for the characters we’ve come to know and love. I agree that it does a good job of tying up loose ends for the Gunn Cinematic Universe, and stays fun throughout its 2-and-a-half-hour runtime. However, “Volume 3” struggles to tell a clear, compelling story due to narrative clutter, lack of character depth and misuse of things that made previous Guardians of the Galaxy movies work.

Guardians, Guardians and More Guardians

If you couldn’t tell by the number of names I listed, there are a ton of characters in “Volume 3.” For the most part, each character is decently fleshed out, but the one that gets the most attention is Rocket. The B-plot of this movie is dedicated to explaining Rocket’s backstory from the High Evolutionary’s genetics lab — the scars, both mental and physical, the trauma left him with. These are the most engaging scenes in the movie because of their well-developed emotional core. Unfortunately, this core is absent from all other characters in the film.

No one else feels properly developed despite every character having a narrative function. After Rocket was revived, the movie’s story finished 30 minutes before the film actually ended. This also makes the film’s ridiculous amount of fakeout deaths feel unearned, and at points laughable. Even so, Gunn did his best to sing a swan’s song for each character before he makes the switch from Marvel to full-time CEO of DC Studios.

Tropy-ness – Some Welcome, Some Not

In the other “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies, there were many things Gunn brought to the table that felt fresh. He’s created a brand for the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and, by extension, himself — retro-fitted rock music, characters shooting back to back and quippy, self-aware humor. Some of these staples work in the context of the film but others seem like fan service for fan service’s sake.

An example is the use of Earth Wind and Fire’s song “Reasons,” a soulful, romantic anthem, used in an intense fight scene where characters get mortally wounded. Still, the action was as creative and fun as ever, a highlight being a one-shot hallway scene near the end of the movie.

To most Guardians of the Galaxy fans, “Volume 3” will be more than they expected: good action, their favorite characters being themselves and a decent send-off to the series as they know it. As an isolated experience, “Volume 3” was messy and lukewarm, but not without its moments of fun and earnesty.


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