The Marvel Cinematic Universe featured releases have experienced significant declines in revenue, lukewarm to divisive reception and swirling questions about whether it is possible to recapture that lightning-in-a-bottle spark of excitement.
I must admit there was a sense of intense hesitancy in me after watching trailers, gazing upon still images or reading detailed background production notes explaining how "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" brought heavy amounts of emotional weight with a darker storyline, painful character developments and tense scenes that cut deep within the soul.
Ever since the passing of my father, anything that's steeped with sadness, whether it's a film, series, animation or a still picture, the emotion of what I'm viewing generally has more of an impact and hurts more compared to how it would've affected me in the past. After debating whether to view this film, I decided to gather physical and emotional strength for an opening weekend viewing.
"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" sees the return of Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista and Bradley Cooper reprising their characters for a third outing in a journey that's one of the darker and serious storylines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Director James Gunn writes and brings this story to life in the only way he knows how with the perfect balance of science fiction comic book action, clever and witty humor, powerful scenes of sadness and delightful/organic acting from the actors/actresses involved in the project.
It begins with the Guardians establishing themselves after the events of "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Endgame on the Planet Nowhere" continuing their adventures. A sinister ghost from the past seeking Rocket Raccoon manifests seeking to reclaim him.
From that point on, the audience experiences a Marvel film unlike any other that intentionally ventures away from the standard and safe formula of prior releases.
Performances from top to bottom are wonderful with realistic reactions and dialogue interactions captivating the audience. Pratt, Saldana, Cooper, Bautista and Gillan all possess magnetic chemistry, making their characters as realistic as possible. The inclusion of '70s, '80s, '90s and early 2000s music serves as a driving force to the story with certain songs fitting a dramatic, comedic, humorous, suspenseful or action-driven moment.
There's a lot of developments happening in this film that require prior knowledge involving the first two Guardians of the Galaxy films, both "Avengers: Infinity War," "Avengers: Endgame" and their recent Christmas special. Allow me to say this story is not your typical Marvel synopsis. There's myriad very dark, disturbing, brutal and heart-wrenching scenes primarily relating to the past of Rocket that admittedly were hard for me to sit through.
I almost had to walk out a couple of times to gather my emotions as my eyes became misty and tears were on the verge of falling. Fortunately, inner strength allowed me to finish the feature with a true sense of enjoyment and escapism.
I will urge parents to use strong caution as to whether to bring children. Full disclosure is that this film has several disturbing, violent, suspenseful and horrific scenes that might be a bit too much for children to handle. It's quite excruciating for those who, like me, happen to be animal lovers. My recommendation is parents should watch before their children and make the decision as to whether it's appropriate for them. Other than the warning and full disclosure this is the type of story the Marvel Cinematic Universe should've been pursuing after both "Infinity War" and "Endgame," it manages to provide the perfect balance of stakes and consequences for the characters.
The action is also a monumental improvement with fantastic visual displays of science fiction comic book excitement featuring a complex, thrilling and lively one-take hallway sequence that I personally rank as a rival with a "John Wick Chapter 4" eagle eye moment. It's exactly what a Marvel comic scene should feel, look and sound like on the big screen.
In the end, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" is an emotional and powerful masterpiece. Great acting, wonderful humor, mournful scenes, suspenseful sequences and painful scenes intentionally tug at the heart strings, guaranteeing that audience members will find themselves shedding tears.
Highly recommended. A 10/10 entertaining experience that serves as a brilliant swan song for Quill, Drax, Nebula, Gamora, Rocket, Groot and Mantis. Great film for friends, dates, comic book fans, etc. Once again, it is important for parents to view the cinematic story for themselves before bringing their children. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" is a required and must-see spectacle.
Isaiah Ridley works at Beacon Cinemas in Sumter. To watch his movie reviews online, find him @Izzy's Cinematic Escape on YouTube.
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