‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ is all heart, humor, excitement

The cast’s final performance as Guardians? Marvel photo

By Wendell Gaa

The “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy has officially concluded with its final installment “Vol. 3,” which in my view is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best film since “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” 

For the past couple of years, the Marvel movies and TV series of late have been struggling with both critical and audience reviews. Whether “Vol. 3” will ultimately have the box office legs to match the highest-grossing MCU box office hits of the 2010s remains to be seen.  Regardless, this is one of the Marvel films which excellently combines heart, humor, emotion and excitement all at once, and like some of the best MCU films such as “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “Shang-Chi,” I could watch this repeatedly.

“Vol. 3” marks the end of an era in so many ways both on and offscreen.  Aside from the fact that this will be the last time we will see these beloved galactic ragtag antihero characters teaming together to save the universe from malevolent forces, this film also marks the final time that director James Gunn will be helming a Marvel project before he makes his big move to being a major co-producer of a new series of DC superhero films, the main rival comic franchise of Marvel.  As his last directed film under the Marvel brand, Gunn happily goes out on a high note with “Vol. 3,” which is undeniably the most emotional and darkest of the “Guardians” trilogy.

The talking trigger-happy Rocket Raccoon is the center of the story here, and he is no doubt the heart and soul of the movie.  Unlike in the previous films, we finally get the full background to his character and how he came to be, and mind you, his origin tale is not one for the fainthearted.  We learn how as a newborn raccoon, he had been imprisoned, tortured and used as a laboratory experiment by a cold-hearted scientist known as the High Evolutionary, whose goal is to kidnap animals as part of his goal of populating the planet Earth with highly intelligent animal lifeforms.  Rocket, along with fellow animal inmates, develops the ability to communicate and express feelings and emotions beyond the abilities of mere animals, and is eventually able to escape the fate of his unfortunate fellow inmates who had become his only family.  

Years later, he has now become a member of the roguish yet noble-hearted Guardians of the Galaxy superhero team comprising of human leader Peter Quill/Star-Lord, and his extra-terrestrial crew of Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Nebula, Mantis, and Rocket’s ever loyal friend and sidekick the sentient tree being Groot, all of whom have become his new surrogate family.  After sharing many adventures with his Guardians gang, a new being by the name of Adam Warlock has entered the picture and has attacked Rocket for mysterious reasons. 

Watching the film’s process unfold with the Guardians team scrambling to rescue their dear friend and comrade Rocket brings a level of emotional engagement which has seriously been lacking in some of the most recent Marvel movies, and it is indeed refreshing to experience such heartfelt investment being rewarded.

Bradley Cooper, who provides the voice of Rocket Racoon, gives his strongest performance with the role.  While a few viewers will find his backstory very disturbing and upsetting, the tragic circumstances leading to his evolution as a heroic member of the Guardians team is definitely inspiring and validates the argument that the “Guardians” trilogy really is Rocket’s story, even more so than lead character Peter Quill.    

Impressively, the rest of the team here is still given ample character focus, including our own FilAm Dave Bautista as the seemingly dim-witted yet lovable Drax the Destroyer.  Bautista has been outspoken in that this would be his last performance ever as the rouge extra-terrestrial with a heart of gold, and it is indeed a great way for him to bow out from the character as he proves here that he has as much acting talent as he can wrestle.  Much promise awaits this future WWE Hall of Famer as he moves on to other roles and continues to make the FilAm community proud.  

© The FilAm 2023

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