‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’: 149 semi-depressing minutes of soul-searching and petty fights 

    Vol. 3 gets the “What did you expect from a Marvel action movie about dorks with a traumatic past?” excuse.

    Isabella Russomanno

    More stories from Isabella Russomanno



    This review contains spoilers

    A swarm of baby raccoons in a grimy cage looks at you despairingly with droopy black eyes, the countless pairs of which accumulate into an abyss of fear and dreading of the endless experimental torture they are doomed to face. When the hand of a shadowy figure reaches inside the cage, one raccoon stands out from the rest, eyes still wide with fear as the others scurry away. This creature knows he doesn’t have a choice.

    The opening scene of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” introduces the origin story of Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), the recklessly weapon-wielding but deeply loyal bionic raccoon of the popular Marvel franchise. 

    The torture that Rocket went through was made known in the previous movies, but the deep dive that Vol. 3 takes into his past is necessary to fully understand his hardened sarcastic, but ultimately altruistic, persona—making this movie useful at least in some capacity. 

    However, the frequent comic relief this franchise is known for was hollowed by the absence of the old, emotionally sentient Gamora and by seeing flashes of Rocket’s horrific past every ten minutes. The juxtaposition of depictions of animal cruelty and then cracking a joke two seconds later just isn’t a sound rhetorical strategy. However, the storyline of deep trauma combined with happy moments with the people you love is typical of the Guardians movies, so the writers did stay consistent in that regard.

    The time between classic battle scenes and Rocket’s flashbacks is filled with depressing revelations of what the Guardians have become without Gamora (she died in Infinity War).

    Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) has become a drunken bag of sorrow following the loss of his true love. Kraglin (Sean Gunn) still hasn’t figured out how to use his flying arrow — a gift from another dead character, Yondu (Michael Rooker). Thus, the troupe fails to save Rocket from an attack from the golden-faced Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), leaving him with a devastating wound that can only be fixed with a computer code in the possession of his creator, commencing the team’s quest for the rest of the film.

    It is revealed that Rocket’s roboticized state was one of many attempts at biological perfection performed by the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). Unlike the High Evolutionary’s countless other bionic creations, Rocket was the only one that possessed the ability to create new knowledge, rather than only follow rote commands at incredible speeds.

    The High Evolutionary said he sought to create a “utopian society” with his experiments, which was basically the least original thing the writers could have made him say. While the malicious pursuit of  evolutionary perfection felt regurgitated, the trope still hit me with every flashback of Rocket’s painful past. This movie tried to give a voice to the creatures who undergo the deadly process of animal testing and drew attention to the real suffering that it causes, albeit being in the middle of a faraway galaxy. 

    As the viewer is dragged in and out of Rocket’s consciousness, the Guardians stay busy attacking one another for well-established personality traits. At one point, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) yells at Nebula (Karen Gillan) for three minutes for pushing Drax (Dave Bautista) because he did something stupid. We know Nebula is a bit tense. We know Mantis is the peacekeeper. We know Drax makes bad decisions. Bor-ing. 

    Still, throughout the film, the themes of friendship, loyalty and the power of having a good attitude about life, despite how frequently it slaps you in the face, still ring true, but with less playful inspiration and more tears. What the movie does deliver on is ironic battle scenes with rock hits from the 70s and 80s, and, as a nice goodbye gesture, the crew shifts to the 21st century with the final song they play.

    Vol. 3 gets the “What did you expect from a Marvel action movie about dorks with a traumatic past?” excuse. If you’re looking for a summer comedy, this movie definitely isn’t it (unless you’re the middle aged couple next to me who laughed at moments when I rolled my eyes in disappointment).

    Ending credits: “Star Lord will return.”