With an opening scored by Radiohead’s “Creep,” director James Gunn makes clear his intention with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: there will be angst. Worry not though, the trilogy’s finale doesn’t abandon the good-time 70s jams of the series, nor has it changed up the formula much—it’s still a wacky star-crossed adventure, filled with many of the same jokes. In fact, it’s that bizarre continuity that powers the film’s best bits, while covering up weaknesses along the way.
For this tour around the Marvel universe, Guardians Vol. 3 orbits Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), the violent fast-talking raccoon, joined once again by Peter “Star-Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot the talking tree (voiced by Vin Diesel), and the other favourites of the previous films. After an attack from the inexplicable Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), Rocket is left near death, which rallies the Guardians to his aid, and sends the film on a journey into his cruel creation at the hands of the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). With goofy segues galore, Gunn gradually steers his narrative through Rocket’s grim backstory, alighting upon the usual positive messages about family and home. In effect, however, the film starts to feel like it has to be everything to everyone, doing way too much as it stretches past two hours (towards what feels like three). Sure, Gunn and his co-writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning want a proper goodbye for the whole gang, but it need not have been such a long one.
Still, the film’s angst does give way to some legit catharsis by the end(s) of Guardians Vol. 3. Maybe it’s the music cues—or maybe I’m just a sucker—but Gunn does pack some of his emotive beats with a surprising punch. In all, this trilogy of his should not have worked, and perhaps cumulatively failed more often than it succeeded in the long run. Nevertheless, the experiment concludes in a fitting way for all involved. If nothing else, I’ll miss that little psycho raccoon.