Friday, May 5, 2023

Weekend Screen Scene: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

I'm one of those people who does their best to avoid spoilers before seeing a movie, especially when it comes to genre films. That means I don't watch trailers (unless I'm forced to at a theater), avoid reviews, and stay away from internet chatter as much as I can before watching something that's bound to be filled with surprises.

But man alive, I wish someone had spoiled Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 for me, because if I had had any prior knowledge of what happens in this movie, I probably would have skipped it entirely. Consider this review the kind of warning I wish I'd had, while being as spoiler free as possible.

Vol. 3 takes places after the events of the The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, and the gang's attempt to cheer up the depressed Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) apparently didn't stick, as the movie opens with Quill drinking away his sorrows on Knowhere, still mourning the loss of Gamora (Zoe SaldaƱa), who, while no longer dead, is not the Gamora Peter once loved. Like the first two films, this opening involves a tracking shot set to a pop song, though in this case, it's not a peppy classic. Instead, it's an acoustic version of Radiohead's "Creep", and it's being listened to by an equally depressed looking Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper, a fact that never ceases to amaze me). The tone for this sequel is set early.

Shortly after, Rocket's life is put in danger, and the remainder of the film is centered on a quest to save him, paired with flashbacks to Rocket's origin story, and as has always been suspected, there's a reason why he's never wanted to talk about that. It's because it's. Fucking. AWFUL.

I'm one of those people who has to check Does the Dog Die whenever I see there's an animal in a film, so I can make sure they make it out OK, or if they don't, so I can at least be prepared for it. Call me a pussy, but I just can not deal with seeing animals tortured or killed on screen. And I'm here to tell ya, that happens in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. A lot. And it is absolutely brutal to watch.

I'm not even sure if the rest of the movie that does not feature cruel experiments on cute animals, some of their deaths, and outright genocide is any good, because every time the film would jump from the horrible to our beloved gang of Galaxy Guards bantering and acting heroic, I was too distracted by the tears I had to wipe dry and the sobs I was muffling to really notice. 

Yes, I did laugh several times, and took particular pleasure in Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff). I'd watch a spinoff focused on them in a heartbeat. But the drastic whiplash changes in tone made it hard to really appreciate the more lighthearted aspects of the movie. This is director James Gunn's final entry in the series, and perhaps his leaving explains some of the story choices he makes. The Guardians films are the Marvel movies I have probably enjoyed the most up until now, watching the first two more than once. But I don't think I can ever watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 again, and would only recommend it to those who really, really, really feel the need to complete the series. 

But don't say I didn't warn you.


  1. Thanks for the warning. I was looking forward to this but I think now it's going to be a really hard pass for me; I doubt I will even watch it when I can FF past the vivisection parts. James Gunn you ruined it .

  2. You warned me, but I loved the movie, best trilogy in the mcu