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Guardians get a galactic send-off: Movie Review

Buena Vista Pictures
Buena Vista Pictures

After whizzing through the cosmos, it looks like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy have finally grown up. Volume 3, now playing in theatres, is a mostly fun and satisfying end to the sci-fi superhero series.

I say mostly satisfying because there’s a level of maturity that’s saturated what’s been famously known for a long time as a silly, ragtag ensemble. That maturity makes for a firm, deliberate conclusion to the Guardians’ adventures, but it also takes some of the zany, loveable, quirky energy that made these movies so great in the first place.

Here’s the good news: fans may be somewhat surprised by the changing tones of the story, which is slightly darker and more grim than the tighter and funnier original films, but it’s still got great one-liners, snarky optimism and the best rock n’ roll soundtracks.

In their last mission as a team, Rocket raccoon (Bradley Cooper) is badly injured, and Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) leads a rescue mission to find the cure to save him.

Unfortunately, that answer lies with the mad scientist who made Rocket: a man they call the High Evolutionary (a thrilling Chukwudi Iwuji, easily now one of Marvel’s best villains).

Much of the story is dedicated to Rocket raccoon’s backstory, with moments that are both sweet and sad. They also contribute to helping us learn to hate the Inquisitor, leading to an emotional final showdown.

The overarching theme of the Guardians movies is accepting your own self-worth, especially when others denounce you. That theme is aggressively pronounced in Vol. 3, and the end sees much of the cast learning how to truly love themselves at last.

But this cathartic storytelling comes at a cost: be warned this isn’t the PG goofball antics of some past Marvel blockbusters. It’s more violent, grisly, and profane, meaning this film really is more for teenagers. There’s also explicit scenes of animal surgery and violence too, making this one ickier and a turn-off for anyone sensitive to animal cruelty.

For the average viewer, the biggest downside is how bloated the film feels. The action doesn’t really kick into high gear until the second half, and the massive cast of new characters means you feel the length of its overlong two and a half hour runtime.

Overall, it’s a well-aged and creative start to the onslaught of big summer movies set for the next three months. It also shows just how detailed James Gunn is as a writer and director, successfully rounding out the Guardians trilogy with a galactic send-off.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

7 out of 10

PG, 2hrs 30mins. Sci-Fi Superhero Action Epic.

Written and directed by James Gunn.

Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Chukwudi Iwuji and Vin Diesel.

Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, 5 Drive-In, Cineplex Winston Churchill & VIP and Cineplex Oakville & VIP. Also in IMAX.

Correction, May 6, 5:00 p.m.: a previous version of this story misnamed Chukwudi Iwuji's character as the High Inquisitor. The correct name of the High Evolutionary now appears above.