Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 30 minutes, Director – James Gunn
In order to save the life of Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), the Guardians pull themselves from loss and fracture to find the data which could save him, leading them to his creator (Chukwudi Iwuji), still intent on creating the perfect animal society.
Come And Get Your Love, Mr Blue Sky, Creep. The latter track, by Radiohead, stands out as a slower, more sombre song in this list and more so in the opening to James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy trilogy closer. The titular team are in a state of disarray. Lost and fractured while they may have gone up in the universe – now with an HQ based in celestial head Knowhere – their team feels close to disbanding, with arguments and misunderstandings between the group rising.
The effects show most of all when they’re attacked by superpowered Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), seeking to take Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) back to his creator, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). After Rocket is injured in the attack the Guardians must pull themselves together to save their friend. With just 48 hours on the clock they need to find the information which could save Rocket from the organisation which funded his creation, stepping close to the High Evolutionary with each event.
It’s as we actually get on to this course that the film properly picks up its pace. The Guardians that many have come to recognise and enjoy over the last nine years are very much still present, but in their initial uncertain state in the opening stages of this particular venture things feel somewhat gradual. We’ve certainly known there to be serious points of drama and personal tragedy in each of the character’s lives, mixed in with the humour and sci-fi action of the films, but with the direct fractures of the relationships dealt with in a serious manner there’s almost a hesitancy to initially engage with them as they appear slightly differently.
Yet, as the narrative develops we’re back to familiar terrain and once engaged you’re very much there for the rest of the ride in true Guardians fashion. While focusing on Rocket in flashbacks to shortly after he was ‘created’ by the High Evolutionary – such scenes working best when dealing with him and his aims to create the perfect society on an alternative to Earth, “be not as you are but as you should be” – writer-director Gunn knows how to involve all of the characters and their various personalities and traits into the rest of the story. Chris Pratt’s Star Lord may still be posed as the captain but this is undeniably a team effort with good performances put in by all, successfully avoiding a tone of saying goodbye to the characters.
Alongside this the world and the various bursts of colour throughout it make a welcome return as the visual style remains strong. Both in terms of make-up and prosthetics and the visual effects throughout. They simply bring to life the various planets and locations which we visit and the action which unfolds within them. Action which manages to have its layer of tension alongside the entertainment factor, especially in the third act and the climactic set-pieces which occur as part of it when the present day take of the villain is put more into focus, after having largely been progressed towards in the build-up with other people (such as Gwendoline Christie’s returning Ayesha from Vol. 2 and Poulter’s otherwise sidelined Adam Warlock) doing his work for him.
Yet, this is a film very much about (as the title might suggest) the Guardians Of The Galaxy. There may be turbulence in their relationship to start with, but as the narrative takes form so do they getting back into the swing of things with another engaging, entertaining sci-fi action-adventure. The bond between the cast, and indeed James Gunn who has clearly held these characters close for well beyond the span of these films, pushes the ideas at play as the team once again learn to embrace each other, and themselves. The tagline “once more with feeling” is certainly lived up to, without an overbearing sentimentality and feeling of goodbye wrung dry throughout.
It may take some time to fully engage with the film as it gradually brings the Guardians back together from fracture, but Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3. moves along with effective pace once its narrative arc truly begins. With strong visuals and performances there’s a reason this team are so successful and it’s down to the care and bond that’s put into them, both on fine display here.