Writer-director James Gunn (Slither, Super, The Suicide Squad) helms this third go-round with our band of misfit heroes now living on Knowhere and trying to repair the damage done by Thanos to create a safe haven for galactic refugees. Things are going pretty well … until Rocket’s (voiced by Bradley Cooper) past returns to haunt them all when Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) tries to kidnap Rocket, nearly killing him in the process. Soon Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) leads his team—Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel)—on a mission to save Rocket from The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). (150 min.)
Glen: Poor Peter Quill is still reeling from the death and then return of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who doesn’t remember him or their romance. He spends his days drinking himself into a stupor with nothing better to do. Lucky for him, egomaniac The High Evolutionary really wants his experiment, Rocket, back so he can remove his brain and study it. You see, The High Evolutionary is determined to create a perfect race of peaceful but brilliant creatures, even if it means making horrible mistakes and having to wipe out whole worlds in the process. Even though Rocket was meant to be merely another experiment on the path to his ultimate goal, he’s been the only creation able to think for himself rather than regurgitate ideas via rote memorization. It’s fun discovering Rocket’s mysterious and tragic backstory, and like the previous two films, this one is loaded with heart and boasts a bumping anthem-rock soundtrack. I’ve loved all three of these films.
Anna: Agreed, all three of these films have been fun. This one feels a little bit more like a closure—the Guardians of the future may be different than the ones we see on-screen now. That said, I’m not mad at this chapter at all—it’s important to allow characters to grow and change over time, especially when you’re talking about a series. Think about how powerful Logan was; we all went into it knowing it was a last hurrah, and that gave the character and performance so much power. Rest assured, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise is not even close to being done, but they did find a way to create a divide between the now and the then. I’ll watch whatever iteration comes next.
Glen: They do tee up another sequel with a partially new cast of characters. At its center, this trilogy has been about finding your tribe—the family you make, not the one you’re born into. Through common goals and a shared worldview, or I guess in this case a shared galaxy-view, the Guardians forge a bond that leads them to risk it all for Rocket. It’s what’s driving them to create a welcoming society on Knowhere. It’s a big-hearted romp through a dangerous galaxy that once again pits the underdogs against an all-powerful, malevolent foe. The High Evolutionary is a fascist, and the Guardians are the antifa cure. James Gunn has taken this band of brethren out with a big bang. I don’t know if future entries in the franchise will match up to this excellent trilogy.
Anna: Gamora is present but has no idea who these people are or why Peter has such a pained love for her—he just seems like a lost puppy. The team travels to an uncomfortably visceral bio-planet to try and save Rocket and discover the dark world The High Evolutionary is power-hungry to create. Usually by movie three, things get repetitive or outlandish, but Guardians manages to stay heartfelt. I’ll always say yes to this kind of superhero flick!
New Times Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Sun Screen. Glen compiles listings. Comment at [email protected].