“Once more with feeling.”
I can’t remember the last time an MCU film truly lived up to the tagline on its poster.
The final film of the trilogy is filled with more than the expected heart we would hope for from these characters (some of whom we met nearly a decade ago). There is also some unexpected pathos, particularly in the back story we get from Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper).
The backstory is told in flashback, not long after the film starts with the mysterious Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) wreaking havoc on the Guardians. He is sent mainly to get Rocket back to his maker, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). The Guardians, along with the alternative version of Gamora (Zoe Saldana) are off on a maguffin esq type chase in order to save their fury friend.
While a sizable chunk of the guardians trilogy’s success can certainly be attributed to the spot on casting of characters like Chris Pratt’s Starlord, Dave Bautista’s Drax, Karen Gillan’s Nebula, and Pom Klementieff’s Mantis (to say the least), the main ingredient has to be writer/director James Gunn. It is no real secret that Gunn was fired from this film previously after the discovery of unfortunate tweets from years prior. Thankfully, many of his stars (especially Bautista) were willing to walk if Gunn was not brought back, so Disney relented.
There always seems to be a sense of silly pulp that Gunn brings to his films. This goes more beyond the likes of an organic brain planet like the one in this film. His more recent non-MCU project, The Suicide Squad, is a prime example of this (which also starred Sylvester Stallone, albeit as an animated killer walking shark). That film (which was far better than it’s predecessor) was some of the more silly fun I had at the movies at the time, and the same can be said here
It should be noted that Gunn’s movies are not always the most kid friendly (The Suicide Squad being a prime example). Although Vol. 3 is not rated R like TSS is, that does not mean it is a totally family friendly film. There are scenes of animal cruelty and kids in cages. The film also is canon as the first MCU film with an F bomb. It is supplied by Pratt, as he is waiting for Nebula to get in a car.
It’s no secret that, following the events of Avengers: Endgame, a good amount of the movies/TV shows have not been the best of quality. While this is the final entry in the MCU for Gunn (as he goes to head a new DCU), he gives what may be the best movie we have had since Endgame. By the end, even as the final foregone showdown occurs, we get a mixture of poignance and closure we have felt in the MCU for some time.
Perhaps the dog days are truly over.