MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 - In Theaters
Directed by James Gunn
Starring Chris Pratt, Chukwudi Iwuji
Lately I have been pondering whether or not to continue reviewing movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, since this never-ending and forever-expanding franchise seems to be running out of steam and fresh ideas. (For what it’s worth, that’s why I’ve stopped caring about The Simpsons, too.)
My fears were confirmed recently with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, two hours of tired writing and prolonged fighting, designed simply to set the table for upcoming MCU films as planned by Marvel guru Kevin Feige.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 compounds my disinterest by taking hostage one of the most beloved groups of kid-friendly characters (if I can trust Happy Meal toys) and racing them through three hours of non-stop mood-swings.
Just to confuse the children, the film begins with a flashback of animals being raised for experimentation. It then jumps to an opening credit sequence featuring Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) walking through the Guardian’s dirty dystopian home planet of Knowhere. There is a sudden attack from a new enemy with some of the most brutal and hurtful violence ever depicted in a Marvel movie; in other words, these hits leave a mark! Team leader Peter Quill (Pratt) is introduced to us in a drunken stupor, still mourning the death of his alien girlfriend Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War,but who will be brought back to life in a different version, without any remembrance of Peter.
Do you still care? I started to lose interest at the 30-minute mark (only 2 ½ hours to go!). We are introduced to a new demigod villain named High Evolutionary (Iwuji), surely the craziest name for a Marvel character since Deadpool’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead. High Evolutionary’s experiments are part of Rocket’s backstory, and his plans include the creation of Counter-Earth, an alternative suburban-like “utopia’ for his creations.
And the film is just getting started ...
To give writer/director James Gunn some well-deserved credit, I think that there is a decent movie somewhere in the midst of this melee of madness. But to tell this story well would require the length of a limited series (and Gunn did this sort of thing with last years Peacemaker on HBO Max). Trimmed down to 179 minutes, GotG3 squanders its comedy, pathos and world building by leaving scenes abruptly before the audience has a chance to laugh, gasp or cry. To keep up with this frantic pace, the Guardians spend most of the movie either yelling at each other (to show us conflict and urgency) or telling us how to interpret things (i.e.: “You are being hurtful.” “You really love them.”). Or both at once: “WE’RE GOING TO SAVE OUR FRIEND!”
Needless to say, hundreds of people die so that the Guardians of the Galaxy can stay together. That doesn’t seem like much “guarding” to me.
I am certain this film will be one of the big box-office hits of 2023, embraced by fans who are just delighted to see their favorite characters back together again. It’s exactly like getting a new issue of a comic book. It’s just not quite a movie.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Three halos: These halos are for a beloved group of heroes caught in an overlong film with some good intentions.
Four pitchforks: Here is where the road of good intentions is headed: frequent swearing, including one F-bomb; scenes of torture and animal cruelty; children in captivity; scenes of surgical procedures; intense violence, including bruising; public drunkenness; death and destruction of entire communities; constant yelling.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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