Review for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3
I don’t think I’ve so looked forward to, and simultaneously dreaded a film as much as Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3. It didn’t have the easiest production, with the director fired and then re-hired when it became patently obvious that James Gunn is synonymous with Guardians of the Galaxy at this juncture. Coming off the back of two of the most fun movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I have to say that Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 was one of my most anticipated films this year. On the other hand, Marvel haven’t exactly been hitting it for six with their movies of late, especially with the development, or lack thereof of the Multiverse saga. A Guardians of the Galaxy movie of that calibre is something I do not want to watch. And when some of the reviews started coming in, they weren’t anything to rave about. With some of the MCU films I’ve seen of late, accusations of franchise fatigue are quite justified. But this one time, I’m hoping that it’s more a case of critic fatigue.
The events of the Infinity War have hit Peter Quill a.k.a. Starlord hard. Love of his life Gamora died... and was then brought back to life, but a Gamora from before she met the Guardians, a Gamora who thinks Peter Quill is a worm. This is why Quill is drunk, when a golden man attacks their HQ on Knowhere, looking for Rocket, but badly injuring him instead. It turns out there is a code in Rocket’s cybernetics that prevent them from treating his wounds. His life is in danger unless they find the code, and to do that will take the Guardians on their most dangerous adventure yet, into Rocket’s past.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc, with the choice between DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English Audio Descriptive, and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 Surround French and German with subtitles in these languages and Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish. It’s a rather predictable cut and paste when it comes to the transfer quality of a recent blockbuster film. If you want better than this, UHD is the way to go, but I was happy enough with the Blu-ray, clear and sharp, with rich, consistent colours, and no signs of visible compression or the like. I didn’t notice until I screen-capped the disc, but this is one of those films with variable frame-rates for the IMAX experience to enhance the bigger action set pieces. The audio too is nice and immersive, making the most of the action, giving the music the presence it needs, while keeping the dialogue audible. Guardians is a movie where you don’t have to whinge about excessive CGI given its fantastic setting, while the third film offers more eclectic pop music to appreciate, quite rightly offering a little Radiohead to reflect Peter Quill’s state of mind at the start of the film.
You get one disc in a thin BD Amaray style case, which boots to a slightly animated menu, where you’ll find the following extras.
The Imperfect Perfect Family (11:08)
Creating Rocket Raccoon (9:25)
Gag Reel (5:59)
Deleted Scenes x8 (8:27)
Audio Commentary with director James Gunn
My fears were unfounded. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 was just the movie that I hoped it would be, and a fair bit more at that. This is the darkest this particular comic book franchise has gotten, taking the story into some unsettling and thought-provoking territory. If ever you’ve felt queasy about vivisection and animal testing, for something as meaningful as medicine, or as narcissistic as cosmetics, then this film hits those notes as hard and as unrelenting as a comic book movie can. The first two Guardians movies veered more towards fun adventures, with a sense of narrative security for the main characters. It certainly wasn’t helped by the announcement that this would be the last Guardians movie featuring this particular team up, but there was definitely the sense of oncoming finality with this film, the sense that not everyone would survive until the end credits. That’s understandable given that the story is about saving a raccoon in a coma.
They certainly do find the most megalomaniacal, delusionary and egotistical supervillains for this franchise. We had Ronan in the first, Ego in the second, and now we get the High Evolutionary, who wants to reshape the universe to his own designs, obsessed with ironing out the imperfections in his own creations. He wants to build the perfect world, and his plan is to artificially evolve animals, engineering out all the flaws that plague the rest of humanity, and get them to populate Counter-Earth. He was inspired by a visit to Earth, where he picked up most of his test subjects. It turns out that Rocket Raccoon was an early experiment that escaped from his design.
Now he wants Rocket back, realising that of all his experiments, Rocket was the only one that developed genuine creativity, and he wants to cut open his brain to see how he ticks. The injury that is caused to Rocket at the start of the film is from the first of the High Evolutionary’s minions to attempt to retrieve him. It turns out that part of Rocket’s design stops anyone from treating him if injured, to protect the company’s intellectual property, unless they input the right code. Inevitably, the Guardians and the High Evolutionary wind up on a collision course.
What with Rocket’s past being so integral to the story this time around, all of the characters pretty much wind up on reflective arcs. Peter starts off stuck in a funk, obsessing about losing Gamora, but their quest to save Rocket leads them to cross paths with the Ravagers again, and the resurrected Gamora has joined up with them. She winds up working with the Guardians, and Peter has to get to know this new Gamora. It takes some time before he realises that history isn’t going to repeat itself.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 maintains the sense of fun, and the great humour that was integral to the first two films, even while it takes its story in a more serious, meaningful direction. It’s a great thrill ride from beginning to end, while the character focus has never been stronger. One complaint that I’ve seen about this Blu-ray release is that it’s missing The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, which serves as a prequel to this film, getting many of the characters to where they are at the start of the story. Not having seen the Holiday Special, I can safely say that I didn’t feel its absence. The film worked perfectly fine as a standalone. There are no issues with the quality of the Blu-ray, and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3 is just as recommended as the first two.