Guardians bow out in style

Will Ferris
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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 (12A, 150 Minutes)

After Marvel’s recent quality crisis, it’s very refreshing to have director James Gunn’s brilliance bestowed upon us once more in his conclusion to the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. Since 2014, we have been delighted and thrilled with this ragtag group of intergalactic criminals turned best friends, who ride across the cosmos jamming away to mixtapes.

In this epic denouement, the Guardians’ retirement on an asteroid haven is not going swimmingly. Starlord (Chris Pratt) has turned to the bottle, tormented by the absence of his green girlfriend Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who fans will know was killed and then revived as an alternate version of herself thanks to some timey-wimey shenanigans, though she has no memory of their relationship.

Then, after a kidnap attempt from golden superboy Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), best friend Rocket the Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) is mortally wounded, leading the group – made up of Gamora’s cyborg sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), telepath Mantis (Pom Klementieff), tattooed warrior Drax (Dave Bautista) and big tree Groot (Vin Diesel) – to set off on a mission in which they must steal the cure to Rocket’s ailment from his creator, the sinister, unhinged High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), a being who has created countless civilisations.

It is really hard not to enjoy this film. In fact, it’s even more difficult to lay any fault at all at director Gunn’s door. With a clever script which manages to find the perfect balance between comedy, action and hard-hitting emotion,

Gunn is swapping Marvel for the darker DC with a strong legacy and his trilogy will no doubt go down in history as one of, if not the best, that the studio has produced.

More outstanding is the film’s sudden, highly charged direction into the macabre. We are shown Rocket’s vivisection at the cruel hands of his creator for the twisted purpose of creating “a better species”.

The High Evolutionary is a bold highlight of the film, with actor Iwuji giving us a career best performance – a horrid Frankenstein/Dr. Moreau madman, deluded by a twisted sense of righteousness, equating himself to that of a God.

He is undeniably the darkest Marvel villain in years, which casts an even bigger shadow on the studios current ‘big bad’ Jonathan Majors – but the less said about him at the moment, the better.

I often hark on about a nagging feeling that there’s something missing from this genre – risk. There’s such a lack of it at the moment. Maybe it’s just a condition of Hollywood. Countless blockbusters fall at the same hurdle. But if you really want to make a film that gets people talking about it long after they’ve left, it’s important to move your audience in exciting, daring ways.

If that means leaning into the darkness, taking chances, completely switching things up, then just do it. James Gunn understands that. Marvel would do well to take heed.

There is so much fun to be had here. So many laughs, gasps and tears to be shed. The cast are all wonderful and the Guardians bow out in perfect style. What a way to go.

RATING: 9/10