No More Encores — ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ Ends On A High Note

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is a group effort of powerhouse performances, top-tier effects and rapidly sentimental storytelling. It’s a wickedly awesome and heartfelt finale for one of the greatest film trilogies of the modern era.

Written and directed by James Gunn, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” follows its titular band of misfits on one last tour to save the galaxy.

Following the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” picks up with the Guardians on a space station named Knowhere. The station itself is formed inside the head of an intergalactic god, though its inhabitants exist peacefully alongside the Guardians’ altruistic presence.

This relative calm is cut short when Rocket, a Guardian and cyborg raccoon, experiences an interruption from his past. With one of their own in danger, Peter Quill brings the band together in a fight to save their friend’s life.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is the pinnacle of Gunn’s creative growth. Over the course of three theatrical films and a Disney+ holiday special, Gunn (“The Suicide Squad,” “Slither”) has uniquely balanced the Guardians’ comedic emotional range with action-packed storylines.

Gunn’s previous film “The Suicide Squad” (2021) experimented with dynamic camera movement and perspective shifts absent from his previous works. This style carried into his televised projects “Peacemaker” and “The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.” The series’ third volume is the culmination of this lively filmmaking and the results are nothing short of hypnotizing.

Staggering action shots, moody slow-takes and energetic sequences of levity and restlessness pepper the movie’s two-and-a-half hour runtime.

The film also features a stunning array of physical and computer-generated set pieces. The combination of animated and practical effects, creatures and settings are a visual treat to audiences. The seamless incorporation of both the real and artificial is a testament to Gunn and crew’s passion. 

Enticing imagery is married with a surging soundtrack. Featuring hits from the likes of Radiohead, The Flaming Lips, Beastie Boys and many more, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” boasts a tracklist for the space-ages.

Technical spectacles aside, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” wouldn’t be such a blast without its charismatic cast.

Each member of the core crew of Guardians, including Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Groot (Vin Diesel) turn out a captivating performance of dramatics and comedy.

Even offshoot members Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Cosmo (Maria Bakalova) entertain with enjoyable side-banter and support.

Zoe Saldana as Gamora is a unique take on a now decade-old character. With Gamora dying in “Avengers: Infinity War” only to be resurrected through dimension-hopping time travel in “Avengers: Endgame,” Saldana (“Avatar,” “Star Trek”) finds new avenues to explore the trauma and rebelliousness of the space-assassin.

New inclusion Will Poulter as Adam Warlock is a devastatingly charming addition to the budding troupe. With Adam Warlock being teased as far back as the first film, his presence in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” feels like a long-promised reward. However, the enjoyment of Warlock’s arrival is undercut by his sparse presence.

Unlike Warlock, Chukwudi Iwuji is utilized to the fullest as the film’s antagonist, The High Evolutionary. Evil to the bone and utterly sadistic, Iwugi (“Peacemaker,” “The Split”) brings a madcap personality to the species-meddling erratic scientist — making him the trilogy’s most ruthless antagonist. 

While “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is an ensemble piece, its narrative is rooted around the backstory of Rocket. Told over exposition and flashbacks, Cooper (“A Star is Born,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) manages a layered performance of guilt, despair and perseverance with voicework alone. 

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is a group effort of powerhouse performances, top-tier effects and rapidly sentimental storytelling. It’s a wickedly awesome and heartfelt finale for one of the greatest film trilogies of the modern era.

Cast and crew have made it abundantly clear that while the Guardians may live on, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” is very much the end for this group of misfits and their story. With the film being Gunn’s last for Marvel, the end feels all the more cemented.

As the new co-head of DC Studios, Gunn’s not leaving super heroes behind just yet. With shows based on the bizarre like “Creature Commandos,” “Waller,” and a second season of “Peacemaker,” Gunn isn’t losing his love for the forgotten oddballs who decorate the printed page.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” may be a finale for Gunn and the audience, but his next film “Superman: Legacy” will likely be nothing short of a new beginning for both.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” comes to theaters May 5.

Featured image courtesy of Marvel Studios.

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