A fitting James Gunn finale: 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' review

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
A fitting James Gunn finale: 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3' review
Scene from "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3"
Marvel Studios

MANILA, Philippines — James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (GOTG 3)," his final entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) before he fully focuses on rival DC, sees the titular Guardians come together for one last adventure when the galaxy once again requires a band of misfits to save it.

"GOTG 3" begins with a brooding Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a drunk Peter Quill a. k. a. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) as they reflect on losses that have been affecting them the past couple of years, most recently for Quill as he mourns Zoe Saldaña's Gamora no longer loving him as she is an alternate version.

Things kick into high gear when Will Poulter's Adam Warlock storms the Guardians' headquarters in an attempt to kidnap Rocket, who is left in a critical condition, and as a result, Quill leads the team in a quest to save their friend that leads to a trap — or as Quill says, face-off — with the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji).

The Guardians have been sort of a suprising spectacle in a universe that contains heroes like Captain America and Spider-Man. The chemistry, humor, and action that come out of these characters operate on a different entertaining level, all because of director-writer Gunn.

In a cinematic universe that often bends filmmakers to follow a specific narrative, Gunn still manages to sprinkle his personal flair of chaos, creativity, and cleverness all over his Marvel films and that is what makes his trilogy stand out from other Marvel films.

Granted the MCU formula remains present in "GOTG 3," Gunn's vision and direction overpowers it by driving the focus back on the characters that Marvel fans have grown to love — a theme now signature to Gunn for praising the misfits.

Related: Fil-Am Dave Bautista says goodbye to Marvel character Drax

Scattered throughout the movie, beyond hero shots and blatant exposition, are sequences where Gunn's screenplay shines purely because he understands these characters and how the actors banter so well with one another that it feels so natural.

Of course what would a Gunn movie be without a splendidly curated soundtrack? This time around, the director has gone with Spacehog's "Since You Been Gone," the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep till Brooklyn," Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days Are Over," and an acoustic version of Radiohead's "Creep," just to name a few needle drops.

There is some ironic splendor in Rocket's storyline, the film's emotional drive, about a creation being and meaning more than its inventor when one recalls the debacle Disney got itself into when the studio fired Gunn from this project, only to hire him back after steadfast support from the cast and fans.

Whether Gunn intended it or not, this jab at creators going manic at the thought of beings evolving to a higher purpose reflects the kind of filmmaker he is, and one that will be missed by MCU.

While Cooper's Rocket gets to have his time in the spotlight mostly through flashbacks and Pratt tests a new kind of chemistry with Saldaña, the rest of the Guardians each see their chapters fittingly closed or starting anew.

These include Drax the Destroyer played by Filipino-American Dave Bautista, who definitely should get more comedic roles from now on, and Karen Gillan's Nebula who completes a character arc set nearly a decade ago.

Related: Fil-Am Dave Bautista wants to do a rom-com, but is worried he's too 'unattractive'

Gunn also gets to bring out even more from his "The Suicide Squad" and "Peacemaker" collaborators Daniela Melchior, Nathan Fillion, his brother Sean back as Kraglin, and Iwuji who utilizes his theater experience to teeter on narcissist and psychopathic tendencies.

Because of a huge ensemble, some returning characters are wasted such as Elizabeth Debicki's Ayesha, Sylvester Stallone's Stakar Ogord, and even the voice acting of Maria Bakalova as Cosmo the Spacedog.

In the process though, it gives opportunities for the likes of Linda Cardellini (voicing Rocket's love interest Lylla, stepping from her MCU role as Laura Barton), Filipino-American Nico Santos, and Poulter who may be sucked into typecasting but could find new life in the MCU.

Where the Guardians go from here is now entirely up to Kevin Feige, his fellow executives at Marvel, and the big bosses of Disney, but again the success of this trilogy would not have reached such high peaks if not for Gunn.

As "GOTG 3" closes several chapters and opens new ones, there is hope that the MCU can continue to be creatively enjoyable and become more than what the entertainment industry machine has boxed it into.

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" premieres in Philippine cinemas beginning today, May 3.

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