I guess as the resident MCU curmudgeon here at Film & Froth I'm obligated to go see every new addition to the universe. If not for the sheer purpose of grumbling about whatever I disliked, but also staying up to date to better dislike the next one.
It's pretty sadistic I know, but hey, someone's gotta do it!
Although, here's the real twist of the day. I was very excited to go see The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. Not only are the Guardians movies some of my favorite in the MCU, but I've come to really enjoy writer/director James Gunn's penchant for infusing the weird with the emotional.
Almost two years ago I reviewed Gunn's The Suicide Squad, mentioning how Gunn has grown as a filmmaker throughout his various super hero films. To think that the first Guardians film came out nine years ago and being able to witness Gunn's maturation behind the camera along with that of the Guardians themselves is something to behold. At the end of my The Suicide Squad article I said that the third Guardians movie has the potential to be Gunn's best and now that I've seen it, I think it is actually true.
Picking up right where the Guardians left off after The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, the third feature film jumps right into action by introducing Will Poulter's Adam Warlock trying to kidnap Rocket (Bradley Cooper). The Guardians are able to fight off Warlock and prevent Rocket's kidnapping, however he suffers a devastating injury. In their attempts to save Rocket we begin to see through the mystique of Rocket's life, and how he was "created" by The High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). Now the only way to save Rocket, is to confront this new villain, and of course stay alive throughout the process.
Although Rocket is in a sort of coma for a majority of the film, Gunn is able to use this state to justify a series of flashbacks to Rocket's origin. Within an already sympathetic state, the viewer is fully susceptible to the emotional onslaught of Rocket's tragic story. A story brimming with friends found in the darkness of animal cruelty with beautiful character additions of Lylla (Linda Cardellini), Teefs (Asim Chaudhry), and Floor (Mikaela Hoover) really turns the viewer into an empathetic, blubbering pile of sadness (speaking from experience here, I was a mess). Coupling this backstory with an incredibly psychotic villain whose hellbent on committing mass genocide on any populace with perceived imperfections, establishes one of the darkest yet most mature stories in the MCU.
Not only is this story incredibly dark, and exceedingly mature, but it is one of the the most effective vehicles of character development in the entire filmography of Marvel. The Guardians are a complete band of misfits. Characters that are too dumb, too selfish, incomplete, rejected or whatever other adjective you want to use - these super heroes are just not that super. But each of their individual character arcs are impeccably done. It is truly astonishing to see some of the more complex developments done across Gunn's three films, and the two Avengers films they're present in. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) once doomed the entire universe through his selfish act of love/anger when he awoke Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers: Infinity War. But now fast forward to The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 and his relationship with Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is much more complicated, and heartbreaking, given this Gamora is a different "version", one that hasn't fallen in love with Quill. Instead of resorting to the reckless decision making of Star-Lord's yester-years, Gunn establishes an astonishing amount of growth and has him learning and moving on for the betterment of both himself and Gamora. Gunn certainly could've taken the easy way out and written in a happy ending with them falling back and love and riding off into the sunset. Instead, the ending we get for Vol 3 is so much more powerful, mature, and satisfying that I actually can't believe it worked as well as it did.
Quill isn't the only one here that has phenomenal character growth, but Nebula (Karen Gillan), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), and Drax (Dave Bautista) are my MVP's for this third film. From Nebula becoming a caring individual to Mantis not being the punchline and making her own decisions all the way to Drax coming full-circle and remembering his true purpose of being a dad. Juxtaposing such warm and wonderful self-actualization with Iwuji's unhinged High Evolutionary makes for a pitch perfect viewing experience. All of the resolutions of each character wrap a bow on their stories so well that this is not only one of the best MCU movies yet, but definitively the most conclusive. Endings are needed and when done well can bring such a satisfying conclusion to characters and stories. James Gunn knew this, and brought a fantastic finale for the gang of misfits and rejects known as the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Of course story-aside, it's helpful when this is the most visually appealing Marvel movie made in the past five years or so and is full of Gunn's wonderful humor. In any given moment you could be ugly crying about Rocket's fateful past, or crying from laughing too hard, or just crying because you're happy you finally enjoyed a Marvel movie in this latest phase of films. Not to mention, Gunn flexes so hard on a long-take fight sequence near the resolution of the film that is in the pantheon of Marvel moments. The mesh of practical and CGI, especially when the latter five or more MCU movies have been plagued by terrible effects, is as well done as one can imagine and I was entranced in an entertained stupor.
Now the other month I was pretty brutal towards Gunn and his course of actions regarding Shazam: Fury of the Gods. Maybe I was being too rash, maybe I didn't give him enough credit. But the real takeaway here is that Gunn straight up understands how to make good movies. The Guardians trilogy is likely the best comic book trilogy we've yet to have and if he can be the leader of DC that he's been for this IP then we are in for some seriously good movies. I think I'm most interested what his Superman film, Superman: Legacy, will look like given how much Gunn relies on humor and oddities. In the end I'm sure it's going to rock and I mean that in terms of actual story but also hopefully in the soundtrack as well.
Because once again the music of another Guardians movie is 100% bangers, no skips.
Gathering from the trailers prior to viewing I knew that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 was going to be another visually appealing film. Full of vibrant colors and lighting, it was necessary to find a beer that could match the aesthetics. Not only did the Party Time pilsner from Wayfinder Beer match these aesthetics with a bright and attractive can label, but the taste elevated the viewing even further.
Displayed with a can full of wonderful color, mimicking the wide array of colors used by Gunn in his films, the Party Time Pilsner grabs your attention immediately. Upon tasting, you come to realize that you are immensely thankful for Wayfinder Beer's attractive packaging getting you to purchase this beer, because it is delightful. Light, flavorful, and effervescent this pilsner is a classic German style brew that is perfect for any occasion!
It's easier than ever to be inundated with all of the comic book movies available, especially when the majority aren't that great of a product. However, when you find a diamond in the rough it is easy to tell, and leaves you wanting to enjoy it time and time again. I can't wait to revisit Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 again but only if I have my trusted Party Time Pilsner by my side to guide me through the depths of space once again.