Despite a love of most things cinema, the MCU is no longer something which drags me to the local multiplex; Kevin Fiege and James Gunn seem to have a loyal family of fanboys keen to indulge their whims, but the Marvel imprint seemed to peak with the Avengers movies and has been on the slide ever since. Gunn seems to favour big eyeless monsters, retro needle drops, swearing and that traditional Marvel signature, arguments, and the final part of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy offers all these things in resistible amounts.
So Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and his diverse team are back; Groot (Vin Diesel) seems to be big now rather than a twig, and Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper) spends the first hour and a half of the movie expiring on a life-support machine after being flattened by Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) in the opening scenes. Quill and the Guardians are resting up after something or other, but take a trip across the galaxy to take on the sinister Orgocorp on Counter-Earth and save Rocket. The notion of the Guardians as an irreverent, fun alternative to super-heroes is firmly gone; we open with Radiohead’s Creep and the imagery of animal experimentation makes Rocket’s backstory grim if not disturbing, and despite an extended dad-dance-scene at the end, there’s not much fun here for anyone.
‘Be not as you are, but as you should be,;’ seems to be the message here, although it could be ‘The story has been yours all along, you just didn’t know it,’ or any of Gunn’s pious tv sitcom/fortune cookie homilies the characters spout. Stars of yesterday and tomorrow are dragged into this, from Nathan Fillion to Sylvester Stallone, but they just spout the same techno burble about ‘filtration systems’ as the rest. At least we get to hear Rainbow’s Since You’ve Been Gone and The Beastie Boys No Sleep till Brooklyn and The Flaming Lips Do You Realise? but it’s not much to cheer us as we watch a revolution of blond-wigged children or some space-teddies fighting their vivisectionist masters. There’s a dog in a spacesuit too, for reasons I don’t have the energy or interest to explore.
The Guardians of the Galaxy films have been popular, but they don’t feel like they’re going anywhere interesting, much like the MCU. Some blue-faced character mumbles about ‘what Thanos did to me’, but I’ve no idea who she is or what Thanos did to her; I thought he made people vanish by snapping his fingers and I don’t have the inclination to find out what else he did. Without much in the way of tension, character or a comprehensible story, the Guardians of the Galaxy films, like the MCU, are becoming tiresome for anyone but hard-core fan-boys; while there are impressive shots and expensive action set-pieces, it all just feels like indulgence of foppish creatives who don’t have much in the way of new or relatable ideas in a stark, post-Barbenheimer world.