Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)
May 3, 2023 9:38 AM - Subscribe

Still reeling from the loss of Gamora, Peter Quill rallies his team to defend the universe and one of their own - a mission that could mean the end of the Guardians if not successful.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 review: The best Marvel movie in years [The Independent]
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 Review: James Gunn Beats Marvel’s Formula Problem [Den of Geek]
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Is One Of Marvel'S Best Finales Ever [Inverse]
How the Guardians of the Galaxy Rose Up From the “Bottom of Marvel’s Toy Box”[Inverse]
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 [two] post-credits scenes explained [Total Film]
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 Unleashes the MCU's First F-Bomb [Gizmodo]
You Can Listen To The Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Soundtrack Right Now, Weeks Before The Movie Is Released [Slash Film - Spotify / Apple]
posted by ellieBOA (69 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, we have tickets to see it at the BFI IMAX in 3d on Friday. I'm not obsessed with either IMAX or, it has to be said, 3d (though I do like GotG movies), but we saw 1 and 2 there, that way, and to be frank one has to get one's closure where one can these days.

(The 3dness of 1 and 2 were actually quite fun, though long-forgotten now, of course, and I'm investing a handful of my dwindling collection of hopes in 3 helping me bid an enjoyable farewell to the format,)
posted by Grangousier at 9:48 AM on May 3, 2023

If you need a recap before seeing GotG3:

Guardians of the Galaxy Recap (Screencrush)
Guardians of the Galaxy Full Timeline (New Rockstars)
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:06 AM on May 3, 2023

If you need a recap before seeing GotG3:

8 Things to Remember Before Seeing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 [Inverse]
posted by ellieBOA at 3:36 AM on May 4, 2023

Extremely appropriate movie choice to watch for Wesak Day, lol*.

*I'm actually crying.
posted by cendawanita at 4:32 AM on May 4, 2023 [2 favorites]

I had slept badly the night before watching this but I cried too!
posted by ellieBOA at 7:11 AM on May 4, 2023

I am Groot! 🌳
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:24 PM on May 4, 2023

OF COURSE Adam Warlock”s favorite music is prog.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:40 PM on May 4, 2023 [7 favorites]

People were worried about Multiverse of Madness being too intense for kids? Some of Rocket's scenes were almost too much for me!

I thought it had some great moments and I laughed a lot, but it seemed like it was just fights, yelling, and body horror from the start. (Shoot'Em Up was the only film that ever really nailed that.) I wouldn't have minded a few more breather scenes like the "pelvic sorcery"* scene from the first film.

* Hi, pelvicsorcery!
posted by MrBadExample at 8:20 PM on May 4, 2023 [2 favorites]

"Still reeling from the loss of *a* Gamora", there is still another...

remember to bring tissues.
posted by alchemist at 12:48 AM on May 5, 2023

It’s Nice to See a Good Marvel Movie Again [Vulture Review / Archive]
Is This Really the Last We’ll See of the Guardians of the Galaxy? [Vulture / Archive]
The Emotional Significance of One Parting Line in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 [Vulture / Archive]
posted by ellieBOA at 9:24 AM on May 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

How bad/extended are the Rocket scenes? I floated going to see this, but my partner indicated he'd heard the Rocket scenes might be more upsetting than I want in a fun superhero flick. I am fine with some short unpleasantness (prior levels of GoG characters' backstory traumas were fine) but don't want to watch raccoon torture porn.
posted by the primroses were over at 11:33 AM on May 5, 2023

I had difficulty with them, while acknowledging they are mostly story driven. But Gunn has a horror background and it shows in these and other scenes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:41 AM on May 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

Is it as bad as Slate makes it out to be? (Yeah, thanks Brandon Blatcher, that was how my thought process went - "it's Marvel it'll be fine, waiiiiiittttt a minute pre-Marvel James Gunn, better check ...")
posted by the primroses were over at 11:44 AM on May 5, 2023

It's not torture porn imo but the movie absolutely doesn't shy away at what it means to be one of the many thousands of test subjects experimented and still finding humanity (for lack of a better word) with your fellow test subjects. The animal dimension is important but in a way the rebooted Planet of the Apes and Secrets of the NIMH animal characters are themselves analogies of real world events. You don't actually spend a lot of movie time on the operating table it's just that Gunn's body horror cred comes in in the imagining the end results.

GotG is all about found families who come together in their escape from overbearing assholes who dehumanize them, and Rocket's story is no different only that he actually found them before the trilogy. The pain is because you know the ending but the story takes its time.
posted by cendawanita at 11:45 AM on May 5, 2023 [3 favorites]

I do think those scenes hit harder than i would like because Gunn really matured as a storyteller and much of the movie is bright and fun, which makes darker scenes hit harder, IMO, for good story impact and character development.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:46 AM on May 5, 2023 [3 favorites]

And yes, I do think that Slate sums things up pretty well, with the caveat that I think it was worth it story wise. Rocket’s background isn’t easy to view, but it makes his story and character more understandable, amazing, and lovable. He’s my favorite, though all of them really became much more lovable in this finale.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:53 AM on May 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

My personal advice would be, what's your tolerance level for stories of war crimes and abusive situations? A lot of the experimentation stuff is not really front and centre and the tone is quite light R at its worst and suited enough for a comic book movie at their rating (visually). The dialogue at these bits however aren't flippant. The hard part is the stuff that's closest to plots revolving prisoners of war or abusive cults (e.g. Room) forming bonds with each other.

The flippant note is quite important I think. Not for nothing my friends and I immediately drew comparisons with Thor: Love and Thunder.
posted by cendawanita at 11:57 AM on May 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

I think it's best to consider how you feel about animals in general. Rocket becomes friends with several other animals who've been experimented and they're generally warm and delightful characters. But they all bear the marks of pretty horrible experiments and there's no escaping that at all, because you have to look at them, so you're constantly reminded about what they've been put through.

Everyone has different levels of sensitivity about that and that's totally ok. But it is important that people who are asking about that be told as much as the truth as possible, so they can make educated choices about whether to see it.

Would I see the movie again? Yes, but probably only when I was in a certain, more upbeat mood, because the the scenes with the test subjects were rough for me. But overall, I loved the movie and think it was one of Gunn's finest pieces of media in his career so far.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:12 PM on May 5, 2023 [3 favorites]

Sounds like something I definitely want to see but maybe on my own couch once it's streaming. Thanks for the feedback cendawanita and Brandon Blatcher, those comments were better context than the Slate review for me. (Secret of NIMH with an opening weekend theatre crowd of Marvel movie goers is gonna be a pass for me, personally.)
posted by the primroses were over at 12:20 PM on May 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

Here's a spoiler filled review of the movie:

Somewhere at the MCU headquarters, several bigwigs are kicking themselves over their 2018 decision to fire James Gunn. Oh sure, they hired him back later, to finish out the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy, but during that time he was fired, Gunn managed to make a movie and tv series for DC, both well received. Eventually, he managed to be named a co-head of the entire DC movie universe and yeah that’s a huge loss for Marvel.

Because Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 is that good and such an incredibly example of what a good storyteller Gunn is. He wrote and directed the movie and I suspect got lots of queries from Marvel big wigs along the lines of “Hey, you need anything else, just holler, because it’s yours baby, we’ve always loved you”. The film is large and expansive and has a dizzying amount of special effects that probably kept too minute artists too busy for too long at too little pay.

But it was worth it. After a vicious attack on Rocket that leaves him fighting for his life, the rest of the team springs into action to save him. To do that, they have to visit various places, doing various hijinks to get what’s needed. Along the way we’re told Rocket’s background in flashbacks and it isn’t pretty. In some of the darkest scenes yet seen in the MCU, we witness the brutality of animal testing via the movie's villain, the High Evolutionary. While we rarely see the animals being experimented we do see the aftermath and their horrible scars. It’s the stuff of nightmares and worth being aware of before you watch the film.

Yet, it’s a beautifully hopeful film, centered on family and friendship. Drax, Peter, Nebula, Groot, Mantis and even a initially reluctant Gamora, all pitch in for the beloved bager, er, squirrel, er, you know. We get to see these fully realized characters and marvel how much they've grown over the past 10 years. We witness how much they’ve bounded and come to care and love each other.

The actors absolutely nail the characterizations over and over, as they interact with each other and the world in own unique ways that fully realized characters. It’s sad to see this team mostly go their separate ways, but astonishingly their individual choices make a lot of sense. Definitely recommend seeing this one and bring your handkerchiefs.

Random notes:
* Rocket was originally my favorite, but honestly it’s hard to pick a favorite now. Each of the main characters is a joy to watch and remain true to themselves.
* The color palette is fantastic and that’s not small praise. Gunn uses color and lighting to expertly advance the story. Are there scenes that maybe too visually dark? Yes, but when contrasted with the brightly lit and eye poppingly colored scenes, the dark scenes take on a more serious tone they needed.
* Kudos to Gunn for not putting Peter and Gamora together. It would make no sense if they did, yet each managed to get a happy ending with their respective families
* Honestly, I’d watch a Drax and Mantis limited tv series or movie. Hell why not both? Dave Bautista and Pom Klementieff have an incredible on screen chemistry that just lights up every scene they’re, whether it’s fun or deadly serious.
* Nebula and Gamora growling at each other is pure genius and hilarious.
* Nebula figuring out how to open a car door based on Peter’s instructions is also hilarious.
* Will Poulter as the powerful, but by very naive, Adam Warlock works out surprisingly well
* Chukwudi Iwuji is also really good as the High Evolutionary. Maybe a bit too bombastic and screechy at times, but it feels like that was the point: a very flawed person attempting to play god.
* There’s an absolutely fantastic action sequence of the Guardians taking on a hallway of villains which feels like Gunn showing off and that’s alright, ‘cause it’s pretty fun (though violent)
* For a movie about Rocket, it feels like he’s bit left out of it, which makes narrative sense. But I do wish we had seen a more of current day Rocket.
* I’m gonna have a drink for Lylla, Teefs and Floor, ‘cause I barely knew them and already miss them so much.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:11 PM on May 5, 2023 [8 favorites]

In case you missed the holiday special: When Did the Guardians of the Galaxy Adopt a (Space) Dog? [Vulture / Archive]
posted by ellieBOA at 1:39 PM on May 5, 2023

I don't know that I have anything coherent to say, other than that I loved the movie, and am interested to see what Mr Gunn comes up with at DC.

To call back to my first comment, the 3D (silly and unimportant, I know, as only some of the people who see it on first run ever will see it) was beautifully done, I thought, with remarkable care.

Interesting take on Warlock - I assume they're going to channel him into something with Pip the Troll, Eros and those two Eternals.

The Adrian Belew call-out made my wife and I very happy, and I look forward to hearing Vroom, Elephant Talk and something from Lone Rhino on the soundtrack of whatever that theoretical next movie is. Or possibly some of the metal Crimson got up to around the turn of the century.

I'm not sure I have much to say about The Dark, except that it struck me (and was important to me) that although there obviously is a lot of pain and blood in the animals' lives, we don't see it. We only see them happy in each others' company. And although we may think they are grotesque, only two characters comment as such - The High Evolutionary (talking to Rocket) and Mantis, momentarily reacting in fright to the creature she finds in the dark cage . I was reminded of the line from the Happy Happy Joy Song "Think of the little critters of nature.../They don't know that they're ugly".

I admire the way Mr Gunn believes that people are resplendent in their peculiarity. I honestly feel solidarity with the other weirdos.
posted by Grangousier at 2:28 PM on May 5, 2023 [4 favorites]

How bad/extended are the Rocket scenes? I floated going to see this, but my partner indicated he'd heard the Rocket scenes might be more upsetting than I want in a fun superhero flick.

I left an hour into the movie even though I was closing my eyes during the flashbacks scenes. Even when they're not being tortured, they're visibly mutilated, cute, sweet little animals. I thought it was horrifying and extremely upsetting. I wish I'd known.
posted by Mavri at 3:18 PM on May 5, 2023 [6 favorites]

they're visibly mutilated, cute, sweet little animals.

Floor's the one that got to me personally. And even then as the movie went on what really struck me as even more genuinely horrific than their physical forms (this is where I agree with Grangousier at how there's much solidarity with the weird than the pretty. Very Freaks of him - that 1930s one with the circus performers) is the fact that these creatures were burdened with higher level sentience, intelligence, and awareness. Some took it on well, like Lylla and Rocket. But ah, Floor. The High Evolutionary's evil is pretty singular here in my estimation. It's not so much that they're sweet for me. It's that they're simple.
posted by cendawanita at 6:54 PM on May 5, 2023 [3 favorites]

Rocket becomes friends with several other animals who've been experimented and they're generally warm and delightful characters. But they all bear the marks of pretty horrible experiments and there's no escaping that at all, because you have to look at them, so you're constantly reminded about what they've been put through.

What I found even more difficult to bear than the physical suffering, which was mostly off-screen, was the knowledge hanging over all the scenes of the animals together of their impending fate, which was relatively easy to infer given that it's a flashback and, well, they've never been mentioned previously. I find the thought of innocent, vulnerable creatures having their trust betrayed extremely difficult to bear even in real life, and with sci-fi animals who are able to communicate their feelings in speech, it's far worse. There were a couple of moments where I thought I might have to tap out. I want to stress that this is a particularly sensitive subject for me, and none of it felt gratuitous or cruel on the director's part. Nor were those particular scenes extended. And there was some comfort at the end; Rocket gets to see his friends again briefly and he gets to rescue a whole bunch of tiny versions of himself. But, yeah, it was dark (possibly the darkest Marvel movie?), and I cried a couple of times.

Not a perfect movie, but Gunn does have a way of getting at the brokenness and the dream of restoration that underlie a lot of comic-book stories that is unique to him, and I value that. It speaks to me.
posted by praemunire at 8:15 PM on May 5, 2023 [6 favorites]

One of the things that seemed interesting WRT the theme of extreme cruelty in service of the High Evolutionary's desire to create a perfect species is how it's mirrored by the reminders that Thanos did basically the same thing to Nebula from a very early age. There are also parallels to the Borg from Star Trek, who are allegedly seeking perfection even though the drones are former individuals with random bits of junk sticking out of them. And then there's the whole irony of HE himself, who can't seem to find his way clear to treating Rocket as someone worthy of respecting as an individual, even though Rocket has a quality that he can't reproduce in any of his subsequent experiments. It reminds me of the meme that answers the old complaint that Frankenstein isn't the monster with the fact that Victor Frankenstein is the real monster, not his creation.

Anyway, even if this is the last quote-endquote "official" GotG movie, I'm hoping that we get a sort-of revival of the Marvel Cosmic concept and get to see at least some of these goofs again before too long. You know what would be great for that? A Nova movie.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:00 PM on May 5, 2023

Oh! Nebula. All the convo about Rocket so far, it'd be remiss to not mention that as the final part to a planned trilogy, all the main characters pretty much managed to tie a bow around their respective character growth, with hers definitely second for me after Rocket and a dark horse one too, being introduced as an antagonist/villain. Definitely benefited from having the guidance of one editorial voice - with Loki I unfortunately cannot say that he shares the same.

Started this comment to actually talk about Quill but got distracted. But with Quill, if I buy my own argument about deliberate planning (which I do, because Gunn used to say from the beginning GotG is Rocket's story) then it's been satisfying too to see his growth, and he really did grow from the callow youth of the first (which is also unfortunately the pop culture cliche of him now). He still had to be lampshaded by the women in his life, but the Quill of the 3rd is such a far cry of the first - even managed to recover his character from the fumble of the Infinity War/Endgame outing too (thanks to that cliche I mentioned).
posted by cendawanita at 11:12 PM on May 5, 2023 [2 favorites]

I don't know that I totally loved this as a movie? but I really liked where it left the characters, which I count for a lot.

Random thoughts:
- More movies should have the team fly around inside a giant skull, I missed the holiday special but what a delight to see that thing burst out of the sky.
- I do like the ending, but I don't get the impression this movie takes place all THAT long after Rocket got all these people back from being dead for five years, which doesn't really bear on the plot but does make me feel kind of bad for him when it turns out that version of the Guardians really is done.
- No shade on Will Poulter but I went in with no idea why Adam Warlock was in this movie and I still don't know.
- I never totally got the appeal of Rocket so a lot of the flashbacks were kind of a drag for me, and going towards the light with his murdered otter girlfriend was wasted on my cold dead heart (We3 bounces right off me too, I think it's just something about the premise.) It made me happy when they saved all the animals but also I started having wild visions of what's about to happen to the food chain in Skullsville. (okay okay "Knowhere")
(- okay reading the comments upthread I sound like a monster. I guess it's that these just register with me less as animals and more as CGI creatures designed in a Disney lab to make me feel sad about cute animals, and it shorts out some of the actual emotion for me.)
- The High Evolutionary "correcting" Rocket's accent was a quick moment, but efficiently nasty in a different way than blowing up a planet.
- They did not miss their chance for a badass hallway fight and it for sure looked cool, but for me it was more satisfying at the end when the High Evolutionary literally could not turn around without getting walloped by a different enraged Guardian.
- When Gamora impales this guy she has minimal personal beef with then curiously peels just to see if his face will come off, you really remember she grew up around Thanos and Nebula.
- But legit shocked they restrained themselves from making one last High Evolutionary face off joke out loud.
- There are understandable reasons for Peter to be skeptical of Gamora finding a loving family in the Ravagers, but he was wrong and I'm happy for her, and for this story I'm happy they didn't go the route of getting back together.
- Groot dancing, and Rocket pretending to fuss but then getting up and dancing with him, felt real and was a weirdly sweet and relatable little moment to remind you they were a team before anyone else. Not every dance party ending pulls it off, but that was absolutely the correct place for a dance party ending, good choice.
posted by jameaterblues at 11:12 PM on May 5, 2023 [3 favorites]

Another point about Nebula is that she got to go from being subjected to nonconsensual body modifications as a form of torture to make her into Thanos's chosen form of weapon to choosing her own "upgrades" from Rocket for her own purposes. And being grateful and loyal to Rocket for that.
posted by praemunire at 9:27 AM on May 6, 2023 [3 favorites]

One of the things that seemed interesting WRT the theme of extreme cruelty in service of the High Evolutionary's desire to create a perfect species is how it's mirrored by the reminders that Thanos did basically the same thing to Nebula from a very early age.

Most of the group are the abused or abandoned toys of some powerful being: Gamora and Nebula (Thanos), Peter and Mantis (Ego), and of course Rocket. (Also, in a bit of a jab at us, Cosmo and the human race.)

What Rocket said about the HE (or at least how I interpret it) is very important: he wasn't even trying to create the perfect world--that was just an excuse for building creations who worshipped him that he could ultimately destroy for their imperfections. He was amazed by Rocket's ability, but also infuriated, rather than exhilarated and awed; he had to reassert dominance by deciding to kill him for his brain. He didn't need to destroy the earlier batches, especially once Counter-Earth was ready; they could've had "safari parks" for them to live in. And does anyone really think that, if he hadn't been stopped, he wouldn't have kept making and destroying Counter-Earths on into the future, like Ego with his endless series of children-turned-snacks?
posted by praemunire at 9:34 AM on May 6, 2023 [4 favorites]

- No shade on Will Poulter but I went in with no idea why Adam Warlock was in this movie and I still don't know.

Since HE was off doing weird/evil science, the movie needed a more proximate and plausible antagonist to hassle the Guardians, and (warning: this is going to get into the comics a bit) Warlock was a logical choice to introduce to the MCU version of Marvel Cosmic (i.e. the outer space stuff) because of his long history in the cosmic comics stuff; for example, Gamora was originally introduced as part of Warlock's supporting cast, and was also his girlfriend, at least for a while. Warlock also wore the Soul Stone on his forehead (where that little metal piercing is in the movie) and did a lot more with it than was ever done in the MCU, aside from it being an excuse to kill a couple of characters. He was actually a much bigger deal in the comics; it was a pattern of writer/artist Jim Starlin's to have a dude with fairly powerful cosmic powers (and ensuing weird psychological/existential issues), with the original (well, original to Marvel) Captain Marvel before Warlock and his creator-owned character Vanth Dreadstar afterwards. James Gunn did what he did with pretty much all of the pre-existing characters from the comics, which is to strip them down to their essential characteristic(s) and then rebuild them, and the essential characteristic of Warlock's that he homed in on is that he's very powerful but also very immature; we saw his cocoon that he hatched out of at the end of GotG v.2, so he may only be a few years old. So, for now, he's just the guy who flew around and zapped people, but seems to be being set up to do more in the future.

he wasn't even trying to create the perfect world--that was just an excuse for building creations who worshipped him that he could ultimately destroy for their imperfections.

On reflection, yeah. He generally seems to be overcompensating for his own imperfections, and maybe is aware on some level that he's essentially broken. Quill also had something to say about that: "I don't need another speech by some impotent whack job whose mother didn't love him rationalizing why he needs to conquer the universe." Of course, that's not necessarily even remotely true in its specifics, but no doubt he was thinking of Thanos and his whole thing about murdering half the people in the universe supposedly in order to save the other half.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:29 AM on May 6, 2023 [2 favorites]

I really enjoyed this. Ive generally had a much more positive experience with the mcu than most, but this was clearly a step up in quality. A coherent, well told story, with terrific visuals, great fight scenes and consistent characters who are all likable and interact enjoyable.

I thought that Gamora was really succesful; I normally hate that sort of plot device in films but they made it work here: Gamora had absolutely no desire to be the person Quill wanted to be, but found herself changed by the example set by the Guardians.

A couple of notes that didnt work perfectly for me

1) the cuts between the characters somtimes felt a bit abrupt to me? Something a little off in the edit.
2) Because Adam Warlock and his mother werent terribly well established, the moment where he went to save his mother felt confusing. She was on a ship, why didnt she just take off? Gamora had no such problems.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:06 PM on May 6, 2023 [1 favorite]

Guardians Of The Galaxy 3 Henchwoman Miriam Shor Is Questioning Her Creator [Inverse]
posted by ellieBOA at 12:47 PM on May 6, 2023 [1 favorite]

Oh one other note, this was rated 12A in the uk, and I really dont think it should have been. I do think the violence and themes were quite a step up for the mcu, and while I have no problem with that for myself, I think if I was a parent who had taken my kid along with an expectation of the sort of standard level of an mcu film, I would have been unpleasantly surprised
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:36 AM on May 7, 2023

The annoying voice in my head has been providing me with "Defer, defer to the Lord High Evolutionary" pace Gilbert & Sullivan's Mikado.
posted by Grangousier at 9:10 AM on May 7, 2023 [3 favorites]

Presumably to be followed by an amusing (yet horrifying) patter song about having a little list.
posted by Grangousier at 9:15 AM on May 7, 2023 [2 favorites]

Hopefully the musical (see article I posted if these comments make no sense) gets released!
posted by ellieBOA at 10:01 AM on May 7, 2023

I may be wrong, but I have a strong sense Chukwudi Iwuji would be Well Up For It.
posted by Grangousier at 12:00 PM on May 7, 2023

What a long, strange (but good!) ride the last twenty-three years has been.
posted by FallibleHuman at 4:30 PM on May 7, 2023

The animal experimentation and cruelty was enough that I considered how best to sidestep content warnings and phrasing to give people a heads up about it on Mastodon. I'm relieved I'm not alone in feeling a bit oof about it.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:16 PM on May 7, 2023 [1 favorite]

I'm really glad I checked online about what happens to the animals. No way in hell.
posted by The otter lady at 10:49 PM on May 7, 2023 [5 favorites]

the creature [Mantis] finds in the dark cage

The internet tells me that this creature is called Lambshank, and is voiced by Gunn himself, which is interesting.
posted by Grangousier at 4:17 AM on May 8, 2023 [2 favorites]

The animal experimentation and cruelty was enough that I considered how best to sidestep content warnings and phrasing to give people a heads up about it on Mastodon. I'm relieved I'm not alone in feeling a bit oof about it.

For the benefit of those of you on the fence, I've been struggling to articulate why I stuck it out despite being (despite myself) rather attached to Rocket and generally being the person you will find in Fanfare comments discussing whether an action or horror movie includes animal cruelty I need to avoid (I literally did not see any of the John Wicks prior to 4 because of what happens in the first one). I haven't quite gotten there, but I wish I could explain more clearly why this felt worthwhile to me, if painful, and different from the fridging of a dog as in the first John Wick. I think it has something to do with the way that Gunn so clearly values "human" connection even in the midst of an extremely cruel universe. He's not torturing Bambi for fun or for wet-eyed sentimentality; he's talking, albeit in a comic-book idiom, about how we somehow care for each other in a broken world that breaks us, too, just for living in it. Gunn cares a lot about Rocket, and the other heroes do, too.

That said, of course, anyone who thinks seeing the film is not worth the trauma they'd feel is completely justified in not doing so. And it is definitely not a film to go into cold without some awareness of and attachment to the characters. Also, please don't take the sensitive 10-year-olds who just think a talking raccoon is cool.
posted by praemunire at 1:25 PM on May 8, 2023 [5 favorites]

There was a bunch of stuff in this that I technically don't like or don't approve of. Too violent. Too much cruelty. Too much genocide (did they halt the total destruction of Counter Earth?). Ham-handed writing. Predictable plot beats.

But the fact is I loved it. I laughed at the jokes. The ham-handed writing still got me anyway, and there was also quite a bit of writing that was good. The plot beats worked. The action was thrilling and mostly quite legible (some of the spaceship cuts were hard to follow) and the spectacle wowed me. And most importantly the characters were utterly charming and nobody was betrayed by bad plot ideas.

I guess they needed to have a lot of flashbacks so that Rocket could still be in the movie while incapacitated, but I couldn't connect with his cellmates when I was certain they would die to turn Rocket into the cynical dude we met in the first movie.
And the High Evolutionary was...fine. His best moment was crossing a line that made his entire bridge crew turn on him.

I loved Mantis challenging Nebula not caring about anything but intelligence and competence. Loving Drax when he definitely did something inexcusably irresponsible.

I loved Cosmo never doubting she is a good dog yet unable to abide someone saying otherwise. I was kinda hoping Kraglin would fail to make the arrow work only to see it tearing through the enemy anyway, guided by Cosmo. But since she got to be such a hero holding open the portal, I was still happy. And I guess Kraglin and Cosmo just took care of the remaining 99% of the invading army off screen?

I thought Warlock was adequately explained by Rocket muttering with annoyance about some idiot with superpowers. Taking down the occasional doofus causing trouble with too much power is just one of the things the Guardians do.

Was that shot of Adam Warlock re-enacting The Creation of Adam with the Son of a Celestial inexcusable? Yes. Did I love it anyway? Yes. Because it was just Gunn being a goofball, not some attempt to make Warlock seem Important.

I loved the scene arguing with the guards and commiserating about idiots. I liked Star Lord's pathetic "Just let me talk to them!" wheedling his way into the system. That "My NAME is ROCKET RACOON" is in every movie, but it still totally worked for me here. And seeing Rocket just covered in sweet baby raccoons!

I want to write a whole essay about Nebula. Her character arc from the first Guardians movie to reconciling with Gamora to literally killing the version of herself that was still devoted to Thanos to here has been one of the best in the whole MCU.
posted by straight at 11:31 PM on May 12, 2023 [5 favorites]

And yeah, I even loved all the slow-motion "let's go do it" moments set to cool music. I love the Guardians taking comfort in "Did I at least look cool?"
posted by straight at 11:37 PM on May 12, 2023 [3 favorites]

A little late to this discussion but I have to be honest, I did find the animal trauma gratuitous. Maybe it's my own fault for having this be the first science fiction I've watched after finishing Andor, but the scenes with Rocket's three animal pals felt like they were hitting the same notes of abuse over and over again to extract maximum emotion from us, instead of trusting us to care about the creatures. Their cages are squalorous despite being occupied by science experiments with fresh wounds: a surprising choice in an otherwise fairly clean ship environment, but apparently it's not enough for us to see them being held captive and tortured emotionally/physically, we have to be specifically shown that every part of their lives except each other is 100% misery.

We are supposed to understand that the High Evolutionary is wrong in pursuing some kind of "perfection", but at the same time the movie agrees that Rocket IS the Most Special Little Guy (also, I kinda thought there was an uncomfortable amount of diversity in the High Eugenicist's team?).

I enjoyed Drax with kids, the individual character arcs, the musical choices, and all that jazz. Heck, I even thought War Pig and co. were horrifying but awesome. Overall, though, I felt incredibly manipulated by the choices made in the storyline when it came to Rocket and his other buddies in batch 89.
posted by redsparkler at 7:01 PM on May 14, 2023 [4 favorites]

Their cages are squalorous despite being occupied by science experiments with fresh wounds: a surprising choice in an otherwise fairly clean ship environment

Sorry to be so grim, but I think you will find that, in the gruesome history of abusive medical experiments, the experimenters have generally shown very little care for what you might think were basic concerns for the success of the experiment of infection control and the like. Because, in the end, most of them were not really seeking to do science--they were just carrying out abuse that happened to take a quasi-medical shape--and/or saw their subjects as so subhuman and disposable that they couldn't bring themselves to care (see Marion Sims, who didn't use even the crude forms of anesthesia available to him on the black women he "treated" though you would think that would make his work a lot easier!).

We are supposed to understand that the High Evolutionary is wrong in pursuing some kind of "perfection",

"You didn't want to make things perfect; you just hated things the way they were." Anyway, what's special about Rocket among the HE's subjects isn't his abilities (remember the subjects doing the engine rewiring that was clearly supposed to be a ridiculously difficult technical task), but the fact that he has creativity to go with his rote skills. In that sense, he's less special and more simply up to normal living creature standard.

That said, it sounds like you found the torture more monotonous than gratuitous. It will certainly hit people differently, and I can't begrudge anyone who didn't think it was worth it.
posted by praemunire at 7:37 PM on May 14, 2023 [3 favorites]

Oh, I forgot one of my favorite parts. When they said "Drax the Dad" I thought "OMG! his literal-minded dummy schtick is indistinguishable from a Dad telling Dad jokes!" and it felt like the kind of Sixth-Sense reveal that would make me want to go back and rewatch the whole trilogy assuming Drax was actually just in Dad Joke mode the whole time.
posted by straight at 8:21 PM on May 15, 2023 [12 favorites]

That "My NAME is ROCKET RACOON" is in every movie, but it still totally worked for me here.

Maybe you're talking about the "My name is X!" trope, but in the other movies, he insists that he's NOT a raccoon over and over. Rocket owning it for himself is the reason it works.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:53 AM on May 19, 2023

Rocket owning it for himself is the reason it works.

Also, because it's an inversion of his bitter "Ain't no thing like me 'cept me!" from the first movie.
posted by praemunire at 7:44 AM on May 19, 2023

Yeah, I totally meant the trope of the protagonist definitely not calling themselves the name of the movie until the climactic moment when they claim their identity by saying to the bad guy, "You said it yourself, bitch...we're THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY."

It's not even the first time Gunn used the trope as the climax of one of the Guardians movies, but it still totally worked for me here.
posted by straight at 10:16 AM on May 19, 2023

they've never been mentioned previously.

Lylla was listed as one of Rocket's associates on his Xandar rap sheet during volume 1. I realise now that was just a comics Easter egg because her ultimate fate in volume 3 came as a surprise.

I was absolutely expecting the post-credits scene to reveal the son of Jason Quill's current partner, who was supposedly going to watch Peter mow the lawn, was a known character or newly introduced one. Missed opportunity there.
posted by Molesome at 12:46 PM on May 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

I was less than impressed with GotG3 - it was fine but seemed to be going through the motions. The quips and bickering didn't have the same sparkle as the previous films, especially without Rocket there to cut through the banter. I also didn't need to see Rocket's origin, rare is the media that pulls off a good prequel backstory and this ain't it.

The fight scenes seemed joyless and even the music choices didn't do it for me this time. The bad guy is very generic although I did enjoy seeing Adam Warlock being an idiot.

This is a small thing, but symptomatic and it annoyed me; Chekhov's Gravity Boots. They are mentioned once right in the first scene when Rocket is walking on the ceiling, then the bad guy rants that he has power over gravity exactly once, and then the boots are used for a split second to resolve the final fight. That is some first draft lazy writing.
posted by AndrewStephens at 10:25 AM on May 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

Something that I just came across: Karen Gillan with a behind-the-scenes look at playing Nebula for a week.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:43 AM on May 30, 2023 [2 favorites]

I rewatched this with open captions this weekend and I noticed that the HE does say that he has already destroyed "countless" civilizations he's made. So, again, I think his quest is not for perfection but for control and for the power of judgment. I doubt he'd ever find his "perfect" civilization.

They are mentioned once right in the first scene when Rocket is walking on the ceiling

They're also used when the team is breaking into OrgoCorp (and we actually see the HE using his gravity powers a couple of times when fighting the team, though without his expository line you might think it was telekinesis).
posted by praemunire at 1:08 PM on June 20, 2023

It feels like Karen Gillan might be the only actor who Marvel has served well. She was terrible for her first couple of appearances, but she's a real standout here and in the last Avengers movie (which I found meh overall). She really learned how to convey the right emotions, in the right amounts, beneath a ton of blue paint and goofy robot attachments. I don't know how to state this without sounding like it's faint praise, but it isn't; it is wildly impressive to me.

This movie was a lot better than I was expecting it to be, but then, I actually think James Gunn is really good at what he does? And I'm going to miss him working under Disney, because (affectionately) he has questionable taste and I think their censorship strictures resulted in interesting-but-palatable movies.
posted by grandiloquiet at 8:21 AM on July 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

I think everything Gunn has directed since the first Guardians of the Galaxy is solid to great. I think this was better than the 2nd Guardians. The music was a little less thematic. I had imagined the mixtapes were moving forward in time, but actually the first two movies were both 70s with a few 60s songs. Maybe it would have been worse to go all in on the 80s after Thor and WW84, but The The, Faith No More and Beasties were my favorite needle drops in the movie.
posted by snofoam at 2:34 PM on July 10, 2023

This was the most vegan movie I've ever seen without it actually being explicitly vegan.

And oh yeah, this is not one I'd take the kids too. Unless you want to explain that yeah, animal experimentation? That happens IRL all the time.

I really liked it but my god, James Gunn more or less made We3 and I was not expecting that emotional rollercoaster (the only comic I've ever read once).
posted by Kitteh at 5:12 PM on July 16, 2023 [2 favorites]

James Gunn more or less made We3

gud dog
posted by praemunire at 7:11 PM on July 16, 2023

I hated 2 hours of it and quite enjoyed the last 15 minutes.

It just seems to me like we’ve been amping up the violence, spectacle, and universe-ending threats for two decades or more, and we’re at the point now where we’re so used to seeing our favorite characters blown through buildings and emerging totally fine, or even dying and coming back, that directors are resorting to the most extreme and manipulative plots to stimulate our emotions. Animal torture! Children in cages! Weaponized children in Thor! Throw in an over- the-top score and repeat the same nonsense over and over so people REALLY get it.

I have seen real animals in cages, and they’re not trapped there by super villains but by real, complex, misguided human systems. What about the banality of evil? None of these bad guys feel real. Nothing is real. There is no more subtlety left.

I will say that when Rocket stood helplessly among the animals, seeing how even he had earlier discounted them (“rescue the higher life forms”) and the impossibility of saving them all, the scale of evil it’s impossible to stand up to or solve, how we save those beings with whom we identify and everyone else is a second thought, and isn’t that cruel, and isn’t all life sacred? How on earth can I release all these creatures before the thingy blows up? I was sobbing. But I think I was projecting my own existential crisis a little bit.

As regards the body horror and totally gruesome stuff… I actually kind of respect that even if I don’t enjoy it. It just came as a complete surprise! I was expecting a comedy space romp and I got nonstop maudlin torture porn and space stations made of intestines? Like what?? Also I didn’t really laugh once.

But the resolution for each character was satisfying. I could have watched a TV special with just that.
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 7:05 AM on August 13, 2023 [1 favorite]

Also: if this did get you in the feels, I invite you to explore vegetarianism and buying cruelty-free cosmetics.
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 7:06 AM on August 13, 2023

Okay, finally saw this, and hot damn but this is a rough ride to a triumphant finish. James Gunn knows what he's doing.

I want to write a whole essay about Nebula. Her character arc from the first Guardians movie to reconciling with Gamora to literally killing the version of herself that was still devoted to Thanos to here has been one of the best in the whole MCU.

Yeah, right from the start of this my wife and I had to pause for a brief aside conversation about how Nebula has had, like, by far the most dynamic character arc in the whole of the MCU. At the start of this one, she's already become the person who tucks a falling-down-drunk Quill into bed, but she still has further to go and the movie (and Gillen's performance!) pull it off.

But basically all the main characters get their due in this one, which is an impressive-as-hell feat to accomplish. The moment they were dropped into the pit with the basilisks, we once again had the same thought simultaneously, i.e. "Ok, Mantis, you're up!" but that was still awesome. As was the technically-dazzling and gratuitously-violent hallway fight (with Adam's pet whatsit running and chittering around throughout it!)

Drax the Dad was, as straight said, a Sixth-Sense level reveal and perfect. And while it was inevitable that Gamora would come around on the Guardians, I did not expect the ending that shows how much the Ravagers really are her found family. That was lovely. As was the show-don't-tell moment where Gamora understands Groot and then takes a beat to recognize that she does.

And, of course, Cosmo is a good, good dog. I've always liked Kraglin (His reaction at Yondu's funeral in Vol. 2 shatters my heart just every time) but c'mon, man. Good dog. Loved Mantis stepping in to give her some more strength to continue the rescue efforts.

And the Rocket stuff... fuck that was rough. We have a tiny little neurotic traumatized rescue dog who was kept in a cage as a breeder mom at a puppy mill for 5 years and we were hugging her pretty tight throughout this. While the mutilations are tough to look at (and YMMV, of course) for me I was able to get over those and accept the animals as they were pretty quickly. The roughness came from them being so innocent and hopeful while we could all see their tragedy coming from a mile away. And then when it did, Gunn didn't really hold back. I think my wife would say that it was too much. For me, it was expertly done, but a hell of a lot to ask an audience to take, and my eyes are still very red now.

And yeah, "My name is X" has been done a thousand times, sometimes hacky and sometimes classic, but this was definitely one of the better examples, coming right on the heels of him finding the kits and having recognized something else in the universe that's like him.

Now, my big question is, do people on Earth know about the Guardians? Like, they were there for the showdown with Thanos, but took off pretty quickly afterwards. I guess with Thor leaving New Asgard in Valkyrie's hands so he could fly off with them, they would have gotten at least a little press but, like... when Peter shows up at Jason Quill's table, does Jason already have some idea what Pete's been up to all this time? Because otherwise that is one buck-wild conversation.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:17 PM on October 6, 2023

I wouldn't be surprised if "Starlord" was a name that cropped up sometimes in the media but that doesn't mean that people knew that meant Peter Quill, humie.
posted by praemunire at 4:18 PM on October 7, 2023 [1 favorite]

Yeah, and I guess they'd probably know Nebula (as the one who returned from space with Iron Man) but I doubt she was doing interviews or anything like that.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:24 PM on October 7, 2023

do people on Earth know about the Guardians?

In the Ms Marvel series, she attends a con where they are selling T-shirts with a picture of Groot labelled "Mr Tree". So I think they remember the Guardians but don't know that much about them.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:48 PM on October 7, 2023 [2 favorites]

And after all the trouble he goes to introduce himself to everyone he meets!
posted by praemunire at 12:50 PM on October 8, 2023 [3 favorites]

That also kind of gets to the other thing that didn't hit me until a day or two later: I'm not sure how long the Guardians were doing their thing (in story-time) before the Snap, but Nebula and Rocket were working together under Natasha for five years during the Blip. Which goes a long way towards explaining Nebula's attachment to Rocket, but also... Don't you wish you could see some more of Nebula and Rocket as a duo working for Black Widow? That sounds awesome!
posted by Navelgazer at 11:36 AM on October 9, 2023

Don't you wish you could see some more of Nebula and Rocket as a duo working for Black Widow? That sounds awesome!

Yes...yes, I've actually thought about that quite a bit! "Working for" defined generously, I think.
posted by praemunire at 3:41 PM on October 9, 2023 [1 favorite]

I laughed I cried. This was really good, even with all the overdone catchphrasey stuff.

The hallway fight was incredible. Pity about the music though.

I loved everything about the Orgocorp, especially its design omfg. Every minute some new weird mushy ugly delight. Also when they introduced the place with a VO while showing the Orgosentries floating menacingly in their ridiculous Michelin man / tardigrade outfits, my SO and I couldn't stop laughing.

Chris Pratt hounding Gamora gave me Passengers flashbacks and I wanted Quill to get kicked in the nuts to get him to fucking stop. I was very glad Gamora did not fall for his "charm" and went back to be happy with her family.

Drug dealers as the proof of the shittiness of the world = bleh. Leave that part of the 80s in the dirt.

The final mission where the new Guardians go to some planet to just murder some animals. I was expecting Rocket to realize there was another way and like reroute the stampede, help the villagers build a fuckin wall or something. "The people can't protect themselves" what are you going to wipe out the whole species? Come back every year? To go through the wringer of this movie then cap it off with Rocket's face of mindless gleeful violence, let's go kill some animals, felt really fucking weird.

- But legit shocked they restrained themselves from making one last High Evolutionary face off joke out loud.

Holy shit you're right, how did they not have Drax say that.
posted by fleacircus at 2:12 PM on December 27, 2023

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