By Jana Monji
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is billed as “one last ride.” This is a fun though often poignant film as Star-Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) attempts to recover from his broken heart and the team attempts to save Rocket, a genetically engineered raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper.
Volume 3 is Rocket’s origin story. The film allows for some good scenes for the actors of Asian descent: part Filipino American actor Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer and Korean Canadian actress Pom Klementieff as Mantis.
The Guardian team also includes the Dominican-Puerto Rican Zoe Saldaña as Quill’s love interest, Gamora; Scottish actress Karen Gillan as Gamora’s adopted sister, Nebula; and Vin Diesel as the now “swole” tree-like humanoid, Groot.
Due to circumstances connected to the adoptive father of Gamora and Nebula, Thanos, Gamora is a different version of herself and the one who fell in love with Quill at the end of the second film.
This current film draws on enemies from the past. While the Sovereigns seek revenge in Vol. 3, Rocket’s creator, the High Evolutionary (Nigerian British actor Chukwudi Iwuji), a frenemy of the Sovereigns, is searching for Rocket to experiment on Rocket’s brain.
In the past, Rocket was one of many cute and cuddly kits in a wire cage. He was taken for an experiment that succeeded beyond the High Evolutionary’s original ambitions and even helped pave the way for humanoid animal combinations that now populate a planet the High Evolutionary calls Counter Earth. This is a cosmic version of H.G. Wells’ 1896 science fiction novel, The Island of Doctor Moreau.
High Evolutionary in typical mad scientist mode believes, “I’m not conquering the Earth, I’m perfecting it.” Yet the Counter Earth has similar problems to our Earth in 2023. The High Evolutionary who seems to have faced aging with a plastic surgery solution that pulls facial skin tightly like the skin of a drum, also has a messy solution for the problems on Counter Earth.
The relationship between Bautista’s Drax and Klementieff’s Mantis is endearing and funny. Drax’s function within the team is part of a theme that runs throughout the film: Every group has that one person who is slower than the rest. For the Guardians, it is Drax. For the Sovereigns, it is Adam, who, to be fair, is basically a newborn. Though fully formed as an adult physically, emotionally and mentally, he’s still an innocent without a real concept of right and wrong. Yet Drax is also an innocent and don’t hold it against him when he says, “Only idiots dance.” We know better and soon Drax will as well.
The emotional hook for animal lovers is not just Rocket the Raccoon embracing his roots, but also the fate of his former fuzzy cyborg friends– the otter, Lylla (voiced by Linda Cardellini); the rabbit, Floor (Mikaela Hoover) and walrus Teefs (Asim Chaudhry). There’s also that carryover from the previous films: the talking Russian Golden Retriever, Cosmo the Spacedog (voiced by Maria Bakalova) who lives on Knowhere, the headquarters of the Guardians.
Writer/director James Gunn has produced a chummy yarn about buddies in space, about sisters who don’t quite get along, about second chances and a world where everyone can make positive contributions. His ensemble is filled with fully developed characters with nuanced friendships.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 opens in the US on 5 May 2023. Be sure to stay for the mid-credits and the post-credits scenes and, if you have the chance, review the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special.
For a summary of the previous two films and a longer review, visit AgeOfTheGeek.org.
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