Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
dir-scr James Gunn
prd Kevin Feige
with Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Elizabeth Debicki, Sean Gunn, Nico Santos, Miriam Shor
release US/UK 5.May.23
23/US Marvel 2h30

saldana cooper diesel
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017)

Is it streaming?

klementieff, groot, pratt,bautista and gillan
Because it's impossible for franchise characters to be in actual jeopardy, writer-director James Gunn once again goes bigger and louder. As a result, this sequel becomes a series of epic action sequences that are whizzy and very busy, eye-catching and often funny, but never remotely exciting. There's a strong central plot running through this epic, but it's so cluttered that it can be tricky to keep track of it.
In a drunken funk after Gamora's death, Peter (Pratt) snaps to attention when his raccoon pal Rocket (voiced by Cooper) is mortally wounded. To find a cure, the Guardians must steal a pass-key from the High Evolutionary (Iwuji), the god-like maniac who experimented on Rocket when he was a kit. So Peter heads out with Drax (Bautista), Groot (Diesel), Nebula (Gillan) and Mantis (Klementieff), then runs into a past, much angrier, version of Gamora (Saldana). But the team's efforts are complicated by the High Evolutionary's desperate-to-please superpowered assistant Adam (Poulter) and his priestess mother (Debicki).
Even the story's quiet moments are noisy, and two and a half hours at this volume level is a little exhausting. It also doesn't help that Gunn keeps the camera swooping at close range through over-crowded settings. So the action is rendered as a series of witty gags punctuated by startlingly vicious violence, which kind of undercuts Peter's peace and love ethos. As always, the sparky camaraderie between the expanding cast is what makes this film a must-see. And Rocket's back story is darkly moving.

Each character has exactly one personality trait, skilfully deployed to create both camaraderie and fireworks. Pratt's Star-Lord is more haunted here, and his primary bantering partner is Saldana's rather too-spiky Gamora. Bautista has the most fun as a loveably dumb but never useless meathead, balanced cleverly with Klementieff's hilariously emotive empath. Iwuji gets the chance to chomp merrily on the scenery, but sadly never unleashes a full-diva onslaught. And the always superb Poulter gets the movie's only engaging character arc.

All of this is designed with extreme attention to detail, from the clanky chaos of the Guardians' headquarters Knowhere to the groovy kids-movie gooeyness of the High Evolutionary's base ship. Smart character work undergirds what is essentially a sweet story about a group of friends trying to save a beloved pal who has a very troubled past. So there are plenty of elements to enjoy. But without more light-handed moments, the movie is so dense that it very nearly creates a black hole in the cinema.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 28.Apr.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall