Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3'
Only your letters, and, mostly, your support can bring it back for a third try ... now somewhere in the black holes of Sirius Major there lived a young boy by the name of Rocket Raccoon ... the fact that it really doesn’t make a lot of sense is part of its charm ... it basically retcons Rocket’s original mini-series out of existence, positing it as a false memory ... it’s a good time to be a fan of raccoons with rocket launchers ... Blam! Murdered you! ... I couldn’t find a picture of Rocket Raccoon wearing a party hat ... ooga chaka, ooga chaka, ooga ooga ooga chaka ... we just get a glimpse of his scarred bare back, which implies that his transformation was painful ... I am the fox you've been waiting for ... Rocket is fine. He's fine. He'll be fine. It's fine ... oh, I'm definitely putting copyrighted Avengers music in this ... at one point, the "snap" apparently reached out into the real world and even claimed their director, but it's okay, he got better ... now you’re just making it sad.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the third and final instalment of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy of movies, featuring the adventures of the titular group of spacefaring superheroes. James Gunn returns to direct, and the movie stars Chris Pratt as Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star Lord), Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, and, last but certainly not least, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket.
Calling the Guardians of the Galaxy movies a "true" film trilogy might be stretching things a bit, because they are part of the MCU, and two movies, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame featured the Guardians prominently (Nebula and Rocket even joining the Avengers team temporarily in Endgame), while they also played a small part in Thor: Love and Thunder (Thor even joining the Guardians temporarily), but most of the events of those movies have no bearing on the events of this movie. The exception is the death of Gamora in Infinity War (the statute of spoiler limitations has expired on that); due to time travel in Endgame, a version of Gamora is still alive, but an alternate version that was never a part of the team. Peter Quill, the leader of the team, and the defacto protagonist of the movies, learning to deal with this new reality is his main story issue.
However, it is not the main story drive of the movie. Furries will be pleased that the main plot revolves around Rocket. Unfortunately, the plot begins when Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), a sort of dark Superman analogue created to be a perfect being, attacks Knowhere, seriously wounding Rocket in the process, despite the fact that capturing Rocket, alive, was his original goal. Both Warlock and Rocket are creations of the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), and his biological engineering has made it impossible for the Guardians to heal Rocket, unless they steal a code from the High Evolutionary. The upshot of this is though the story is about Rocket, he actually spends a good portion of it unconscious.
However, while in this state, Rocket dreams of his past, and we finally learn his origins, as do eventually the rest of the Guardians. Rocket's comics origins are basically ignored, which is probably for the best, because he basically has two contradictory backstories there, with the original one a bit too cute for his characterization in the movies, and the other one a frustratingly pointless retcon. The High Evolutionary in the comics, on one hand, has no connection to Rocket, but on the other hand, his entire gimmick is uplifting and evolving things, particularly animals. It makes way more sense than Ego the Living Planet being Quill's dad in the last movie, anyway.
As a villain in this movie, the High Evolutionary is pretty nasty. He spends all his time vivisecting animals, and though he is able to "uplift" them to full sentience, he has no problem disposing of them if they don't live up to his standards of perfection. And nothing does. The movie is not shy about taking a pro-animal rights stance. On one hand, this is a theme that I imagine most furries can get behind. On the other, it might hit animal loving furry fans hard. The theme is even reinforced when a villainous character adopts a pet; if you've read the comics, it's already pretty clear how this character's arc may go, but even if you're not, it's pretty clear foreshadowing.
Thanks to the High Evolutionary, however, the furry quotient is pretty high in this movie. At one point, the Guardians visit an entire planet made of uplifted animal people, though fair warning that they aren't "pretty" animal people like furries might prefer, which only makes them more interesting. Rocket's origin flashbacks also introduce us to his furry cellmates, including the otter Lylla (voiced by Linda Cardellini), an important character in the early Rocket Raccoon comics. She's still a cute little otter. With robot arms.
Also upping the furry factor is Cosmo (voiced by Maria Bakalova), a Russian dog shot into space during the space race who gained intelligence, psychokinetic powers and prolonged life when she came into contact with cosmic rays (basically the same origin story as the Fantastic Four, actually), who after cameoing in the last two movies has become a "junior" member of the Guardians, along with recurring character Kraglin (Sean Gunn). They get left behind on Knowhere, but do get their own small story that plays out over the course of the movie.
In fact, despite a large cast, all of the characters have something to do. They all have a role to play, and all but Groot have significant character growth. Groot's pretty happy just to be there, so he doesn't really need to grow in character (though he does grow a lot in actual physical size), but even he still gets multiple stand out scenes. The movie still features its trademark mixture of drama and humor that defined the first two movies. In the humor department, I'd say the movie is a marked improvement over Vol. 2, where the characters had a grating habit of laughing a bit too hard at their own jokes. Rocket himself doesn't get to be quite as snarky as usual, partially due being either unconscious and/or reexperiencing intense emotional trauma, but partially due to genuine character growth, as well.
In the final evaluation, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a wonderful send off to these characters. I'm thinking I give the edge to original movie as the best of the three, but all three are must-sees.