Charles Merritt believes this movie is not only good Box Office, it gives you tons to talk about with your children
The Film: Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3
Watch if you liked: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame
Running time: 149 minutes
Genre: Superhero, Sci-fi, Adventure
Overview: When Rocket is badly injured in battle, the team discover the horrific truth about their wise-cracking friend’s origin and come face-to-face with his creator, the High Evolutionary, a psychopathic scientist who wants to perfect creation.
What you liked: A great movie has you thinking about it for days after seeing it and I’m getting emotional just writing about this three days later. There is so much to unpack and explore. Tonally, this film is very different to the first two, and it’s established early on with a grungy one-shot opening of Rocket walking around Knowhere to an acoustic version of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. This is a darker Guardians film than perhaps we’re used to.
The loveable band of misfits we have grown to love are back and their dynamic is as captivating as ever. Despite the slight tonal shift, the comedy is still strong and there are many contributing factors to making this film a strong sentimental ending to the trilogy.
The first is James Gunn’s script and directing. The script overall is solid and there are lots of interesting storylines being explored in-between the emotional thread of Rocket’s past but they’re all masterfully balanced with the humour. Gunn’s directing is as spectacular as ever with brilliantly conceived visuals and action pieces as well as being able to mine into his cast’s acting abilities to provide some gut-wrenching scenes.
The second is the cast. Chris Pratt continues to be an incredible leading man. He switches from being a swaggering space buccaneer to a sensitive lost-child, who desperately wants to keep ahold of his new family, with such ease. Star-Lord could so easily be a two-dimensional character in the wrong hands but Pratt manages to maintain the heart of the films in his portrayal.
Bradley Cooper’s Rocket is the lead character of the movie and Cooper’s voice work is as strong as ever. You don’t notice that you’re watching a fully CGI character, in part because of the incredible visual effects but also because Cooper’s voice work is so well matched and contains so much emotion that you buy in to the belief that racoons can talk.
The rest of the cast are as reliably great as they have been in the previous movies. Zoe Saldaña gets to give a slightly different take to her character of Gamora (for reasons you’ll know if you’ve seen Infinity War - which you really need to have seen before watching this…) and it makes for an excellent performance. Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff are brilliant together as Drax and Mantis, with both heart and comedy on full display. Karen Gillan gets a chance to continue Nebula’s arc from enemy to hero and does so with great skill.
Chukwudi Iwuji plays the High Evolutionary and may be one of the greatest villains I’ve ever seen on screen. I truly hated the guy. But his performance has so much character and depth it’s captivating to watch and you don’t care that he’s monologuing because every word is hit with such power. It’s truly a work of art.
What you didn’t like: It’s not that I didn’t like it but the soundtrack isn’t as good as the previous two. I think it’s because of the different tone for the movie - it means there are less feel-good tracks but it’s not a bad mix-tape by any means and there are some amazing tracks on here.
Thoughts for parents: I’m splitting this into two sections - one being a more practical guide for those wanting to take their children to seeing the film and one being conversations around faith that the film throws up.
Warnings for parents: I’m not sure I agree with a 12A rating. I’m surprised it’s not a hard 12, maybe even a 15, as there are some very disturbing images. There’s a lot of body horror, torture, animal cruelty, violence and death that I wouldn’t be comfortable taking a child under the age of 14 to see it.
1. Second Chances
The Guardians of the Galaxy movies have always been about a band of misfits saving the galaxy despite being deeply flawed. All of the characters behave in ways that you wouldn’t want them to be role models and yet they have a redeeming quality that makes you root for them despite their mistakes.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the film’s director and writer, James Gunn, is also a flawed human being. After a series of tasteless old tweets resurfaced, Gunn was taken off directing duties for the third film. However, Disney changed their mind and allowed him to come back and finish off his trilogy. I, for one, am glad of this. His directing is the key to the success of these films. Furthermore, he had already apologised about the tweets before the release of the first film and admitted they were in poor taste and that he had since grown as a person.
Groot tells someone in the film ‘I am Groot’ which, translated, means ‘everyone deserves a second chance’. All of the characters in the film have some horrific back story. Whether it’s being kidnapped by aliens on the day they lost their mother to cancer or being abhorrently experimented on by psychopathic beings.
Not everyone gets a fair shot at life on earth.The lottery of where you are born and who you are born to determines so much of your childhood which understandably has an effect on your adult life. This doesn’t make it an excuse for bad behaviour but it certainly explains it. Sometimes the only choices you have to make are ones which come saddled with horrific consequences. Having worked in prisons, I’ve seen firsthand how those we have written off as ‘bad’ people can be some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
The Guardians are no different. Despite their flaws, they strive to save others - admittedly not in a very kind or loving manner. The baggage they carry with them becomes bearable in the self-made family they’ve become a part of. Jesus’ teaches us to go beyond giving people a second chance. He tells us to forgive others 70 times seven. What does forgiveness look like in a cancel-culture world? Does forgiveness mean that they are no consequences to people’s actions? Are there any limitations in what we can forgive someone for doing?
2. Unrequited Love
Star-Lord’s emotional arc in the moving is realising that Gamora isn’t the woman he once fell in love with. It’s a bitter-sweet narrative in which we see moments that remind us why they were once a couple and there’s a deep longing to see them be reunited. As someone who often gets caught up in romanticism and wishful thinking, I strongly resonated with this storyline. I’m sure many young people too will connect with this story - wishing to show someone why they’d be good together, only to realise that it needs both parties to be on board. How can we help young people navigate love in a consenting manner? How do remind them that God loves them as much as an individual as He would if they were in a relationship? How do we ensure that singleness isn’t seen as a lesser option but as an incredible potential calling from God?
3. Playing God
The High Evolutionary explodes at one point ‘There is no god, there is only me’ and it speaks volume into his character. Obsessed with creating the perfect life-form, the High Evolutionary drives himself mad with the power of creation and his ability to incinerate any being that falls short of his high-standards. This all changes when he creates Rocket and realises that, despite being physically flawed, Rocket possess greater intelligence and creative ability than he does. He then seeks to take Rocket’s brain and mine it so that he can maintain his own status and intellect.
With AI technology fast evolving, this storyline feels very relevant. At what point does God’s gift of creation and making us creative beings become a curse? How do we ensure that we are creating things for the good of God’s creation and not enabling its destruction? What does it take to make something designed for the good of the world be turned into something that could destroy it?