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‘Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3’ a heavy, emotional (yet rewarding) watch

Marvel Studios
“Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3” goes to some pretty grim places. It takes an emotional toll as its plot unspools. It’s intense, scary and some scenes may be hard to watch. But it’s also a story that ends the “Guardians” trilogy on a hopeful note and rewards you for sticking with it.
“Vol. 3” picks up with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) still struggling with the loss of Gamora (Zoe Saldana) during the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” Quill’s moping is interrupted when an encounter with Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) leaves Rocket (Bradley Cooper) on the verge of death.
Quill marshalls the rest of the Guardians to undertake a mission to save Rocket, which means teaming up with a different version of Gamora who doesn’t like Quill too much. It also means throwing down with The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), a powerful but cruel scientist bent on creating the perfect society and destroying billions of lives in the process. What is it about crafting a perfect society that drives everyone who tries it crazy?
“Vol. 3” is much darker than the proceeding “Guardians” movies, with much of the darkness coming in scenes that explore Rocket’s origin. Through a series of flashbacks, we see where Rocket came from, what was done to him as he was being created and what that process cost him.
The film makes very clear how tortuous Rocket’s creation was for him and how cruel and abusive The High Evolutionary is. Even though these atrocities are being carried out against computer-generated animals, it’s still disturbing. Because of these scenes, I find it hard to recommend “Vol. 3” to families with young kids or to people who love animals.
If you get past that, “Vol. 3” has a lot of good stuff to offer, especially in the way the characters develop and show sides of them we’ve not yet seen. Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Groot (Vin Deisel) all get character moments that show how they’ve grown and changed through the “Guardians” films. Even beloved side characters, like Kraglin (Sean Gunn) and Cosmo the Spacedog (Maria Bakalova), get their moments to shine.
Visually, “Vol. 3” still takes us to some crazy locations, including an organically-grown space station. Writer/director James Gunn is one of Marvel’s more talented visual stylists, so the action scenes are stylish and fun, while the color palette is more vivid than what you normally get in a Marvel movie.
As for the acting, you can kind of tell some of the actors are done playing these characters. Saldana isn’t bad this time around but it does feel like she’s holding back a bit, as if she’d love to be somewhere else. Other performances help lift the movie. Klementieff and Bautista are still fun to watch together. Pratt continues to find new layers within the Quill character.
The major flaws “Vol. 3” has are mostly related to elements of the Marvel movie formula that it just can’t get away from. I, for one, have had enough of seeing death fake-outs in Marvel movies. The humor is dialed back a little and that’s appropriate for the story they’re telling. But it still rears its ugly head at inappropriate times. And if I’m honest, the third act of this movie drags a little.
Still, “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3” is a very solid ending for one of the better Marvel Cinematic Universe trilogies. Considering where these characters started out, as junior varsity (at best) characters for Marvel and the way Gunn and his collaborators were able to get a massive moviegoing audience to fall for weird ideas like an anthropomorphic tree and talking raccoon, it’s hard for me to think of a better way to send this team of heroes off.
3 ½ Indy Fedoras out of 5
MPAA Rating: PG-13
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Source: eastidahonews.com

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