The best Marvel movie since… well, certainly, years. The final and third film is always tricky when having to balance both wrapping up the story arcs, as well as providing a film in and of itself. Recent Marvel movies have received very mixed, skewing on negative, reviews, from Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023), and Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022). Guardians had several characters to jostle with: Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper-voiced), Groot (Vin Diesel-voiced), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Director James Gunn chose to explore Rocket’s past as the main story plot of the final instalment, and, ultimately, it was one of the most beautiful and emotional Marvel films to date. Thomas Martin reviews.
Our heroes are pitted against the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji) the main villain, who does an excellent job at being incredibly evil and sinister. Visually stunning, the scenes switch between galactic space hopping in bright-coloured suits to sitting in the kitchen of a ‘Counter-Earth’ resident. A Marvel trademark by this point, the 80s music and comedic scenes are back up to the usual standard expected, with Chris Pratt and Dave Bautista really performing well. Plus, the first expletive is used in a Marvel film, to add comedic effect where Chris Pratt tells Nebula to ‘open the f*cking door,’ which drew a large laugh from the audience. Similar to the Bill Murray cameo in Quantumania, Sylvester Stallone makes an entrance as a Ravager, as well as Will Poulter as Adam Warlock.
By focusing on the characters, the film is much more watchable, and exploring emotions, whether joy or despair, is eternally more enjoyable than complex Multiverse shenanigans
At the heart of the film, perhaps even more recognisable than the plot, are its themes. The theme of friendship is strong, but as is the tragic romantic element for Quill. Due to Gamora being an alternative-universe version, she has no connection to Quill, and he makes it abundantly clear – through comedy mainly – that this is hard for him to take. The theme of friendship is deeper, however, as it explores how kindness within this is key, and every person is complex with a life worth living, in this family of homeless individuals. Several scenes with Mantis and Drax, who’s quipped to be the dumb brute, shows this.
Interestingly, the film avoids the Multiverse, and focuses in on the characters, something which has been lacking in Marvel since the days of Iron Man and Captain America had their standalone trilogies. This is intentional, likely, as the Guardians are not the centre-stage, rather accompanying Avengers, who will be in the upcoming major releases, such as Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (2025). By focusing on the characters, the film is much more watchable, and exploring emotions, whether joy or despair, is eternally more enjoyable than complex Multiverse shenanigans that are resolved at the movie’s climax anyway.
The main criticism would be that the scenes felt too pushed together, in that a slow-paced, heartfelt, or even emotional scene is immediately followed by something so flashy and fast it sometimes felt like the film was rushing to fit into itself.
Visuals, audio, acting, storytelling; all the traditional factors for judging a film are excellent. But, more than that, it is emotion-inducing, something that is seemingly lacking in Marvel cinema recently.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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