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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 - FILM REVIEW

If you talk to any fan of movies these days, they'll explain to you their general apathy for the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, the upcoming projects feature unique characters and a bigger story, but recently audiences haven't been given the opportunity to really care about the films themselves. Every project put into theaters feels like a space on a board game, you pass it in order to get to the next one. With the recent uncovering of several assault charges for actor Jonathan Majors (The actor intended to play the brand new antagonist "Kang") it seems like nothing is going right for Marvel, save for Spider-Man.

However, one other franchise seems to escape the mediocrity bounds of Marvel, and that is James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy was arguably the last major risk Marvel Studios took. A film directed by a guy who used to make gory monster pictures, and planned to feature some of the least known superheroes ever was never supposed to be a hit. Sure enough, volumes 1 and 2 are revered as some of Marvel's best work, mostly in part due to their 70s and 80s music supervision, razor-sharp comedy, and precise tonal work in terms of story and action. Another thing that made the Guardians so successful commercially and critically is their lack of major presence in the greater MCU. This is likely due to scuffles with Gunn as a creative and the producer Kevin Feige, but hardly ever do we see major points of Guardians films latching onto other projects. They exist in their own world, one of which is infinitely more entertaining and heartfelt than the MCU's.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 comes at a unique time in the pop culture world in general. The last time the Guardians had the screen to themselves, things were very different. The Nintendo Switch was 2 months old, Tyler The Creator’s Flower Boy was months away, and people still held hope and positive opinions about Marvel Movies!

James Gunn has had quite a wild 6 years too, with the efforts of conservative voices on Twitter to "cancel" the director for his old tweets expelling dark humor. Gunn, while losing a job briefly, bounced back from this hit piece, and ended up with directing Guardians 3, the DC's Suicide Squad reboot, as well as creatively managing the future of the DC Entertainment Universe. It’s safe to say that from now on, Gunn takes sh*t from absolutely nobody, and his silly, creative brain is able to roam (mostly) free in his work. As a result, Guardians 3 is so enjoyable and inspired, it totally sets itself apart from anything Marvel has done since (and likely after)

Gunn has a very similar frame that he reuses in most of his films, that being “aww the silly little creature will make you care about it” and like it’s pretty easily to see it and dismiss it. But I think every single time he surrounds it with enough interesting and entertaining content that it’s totally warranted. Another criticism of Gunn's work is his frequent use of comedy to extinguish drama. This was a trait used in various other movies in the MCU, with the famous line of "he's right behind me isn't he" becoming an inside joke for anyone else online tired of mediocrity. However, once again Gunn grows as a director, and lets his work breathe on its own, with genuine emotion. Guardians 3 mostly centers around saving Rocket Raccoon after an accident, and I believe it’s an absolute miracle the main story was about Rocket because I find him a lot more interesting than anything Star-Lord had going on. The last time we saw Peter Quill he was hung up on the fact that his universe's version of his girlfriend died, and so he now goes on with a version of Gamora that never met him. This was obviously not Gunn's idea, as much as he tries to hide that fact, but Gunn adapts it by having Quill take a backseat in this movie, and instead learn to complete himself rather than falling in love. Many other characters are given their proper sendoff, and undoubtedly learn valuable lessons.

The entire film continues to be wrapped in a retro, nerdy sheen that was just as positively recieved in the other films. It certainly isn't the funniest in the series (That honor goes to volume 2) and it still falls for some Marvel-isms of setting up future projects, but considering the negative stigma around Marvel, Gunn and his team created a genuinely touching sendoff to some of the most interesting characters Marvel will ever see.

Everything in this movie really makes you smile and go “I’m happy this is the last Marvel movie I’ll ever see until the new Spider-Man” the film is a scream and dance of catharsis to Florence + The Machines and that’s what the hellhole of a “cinematic universe” needed right now. 12 year old Eddie was enamored with the Guardians, and it’s a miracle to say that 18 year old Eddie was just as happy now. I would recommend watching Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, as well as to treat everyone (including animals) with kindness.

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