Review by C.J. Bunce
Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is a movie that appears to have been written and directed by a deranged little boy who is one day going to grow up to be some kind of psychopathic killer. It should come as no surprise, considering it was written and directed by James Gunn, known for unleashing his self-indulgent crap on us before (The Suicide Squad). The movie is so barbaric and loathsome, thrusting multiple animal mutilations and killings in front of the audience so many times that you need to question how any movie studio, let alone more than one, let alone biggies like Disney or Warner Brothers, would put this guy in charge of any movie or franchise, or even taking tickets at the door. How hard is it to make a good movie out of these characters? Rocket, Groot & Co. are great in the comics. Was that first movie a fluke? And this is the same guy who has been entrusted with the next era in the DC Comics movie adaptations. Frankly, DC seems doomed.
You can approach this movie from any angle and it’s all bad. The animals that this inexplicable mad scientist is disfiguring and operating on look fake enough for adults to see how bad the CGI is, but parents should hope the kids don’t click on this one to watch or they will have nightmares for months. Even Chris Pratt, not known for his Academy Award list, seems like he’s phoning in his role, as if he knows this script is the worst superhero movie story ever told. Karen Gillan looks like she’s trying to give her best in this movie. But she’s stuck with this script. Gamora might as well not be in the movie. Drax has devolved into the intellectual equivalent of a never-ending fart joke. Mantis seems to be given more attention than any other character, yet she adds nothing to the Guardians team. Groot gets his head cut off. Will Poulter, a great British actor who dazzled in Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? is wasted in the poorly executed, unrecognizable, live-action debut of Adam Warlock. Nathan Fillion lost his cool factor in this movie. And Chukwudi Iwuji’s villain is as bad and over-the-top as the recurring onslaught of Jonathan Majors’ MCU villain. You gotta feel bad for the cast, except for the fact the leads got paid nicely for it.
Gunn makes all the mistakes in this movie. He makes the audience go through the horrors of seeing innocents killed, building up to the on-screen death of Rocket the cyborg-enhanced raccoon–who audiences have loved for years, and deaths of other characters, only to see that thing bad writers do: POOF! He brings them back to life and everything is magically better now. Deus ex machina. Gunn leans hard on pop songs again (the tracks have gotten worse with each installment), but even more disturbing he leans on uplifting heroic themes to try to pull viewers out of the more mind-numbing bits, and the worst of the horrific visuals. It’s cheap. It’s pathetic. Perhaps the lesson is that Hollywood should stop giving so much power to one executive.
Compare the first ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to all that has come after. Don’t most people go to a movie for entertainment? To feel good? One can envision a family going out to dinner, having a great evening, and topping it off with a movie of unspeakable horrors that kids will be crying about all night long.
If the defense is that Gunn is trying to elevate discussions of the horrors of animal testing, then we’d all be better served if he just Tweeted out a website link to the millions of his followers so they can all make donations to AAVS. The Matthew Broderick movie Project X did it so much better than Guardians 3 and with actual respect to the subject matter–not just using it as an excuse for a plot thread in a superhero movie. Gunn may not be aware of what legions have learned from bad marketing efforts over the years–when you slam horrors in peoples’ faces, your audience becomes immune to the message. This is why anti-smoking ads stopped showing photos of rotted lungs in their advertisements. It just doesn’t work. It’s ineffective. I can’t imagine H.G. Wells could have imagined horrors this gruesome when he was writing The Island of Dr. Moreau.
Animals are a lot smarter than as interpreted in this movie. If you were to be able to fully communicate with them they are not going to talk like robots. Anyone who has spent time with animals can tell you this.
The poor people who were able to sit through the entire movie in the theater should have been rewarded with a refund. It’s too long, poorly edited, weak CGI… too many problems to list. An Asgardians of the Galaxy adventure would have been a better route. Anything would have been better. This isn’t the Rocket movie Marvel audiences deserved. FYI–the movie has a boring post-credits scene, which is as skippable as the rest of the movie.
The only question that remains is where this movie falls with respect to the other worst comic book movies. The fact that it’s in the same league with I, Frankenstein, Morbius, The Spirit, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, and The Suicide Squad says a lot. Do yourself a favor and skip them all. Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is streaming now on Disney+.