Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Trauma, teamwork at heart of darker MCU threequel.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Like previous installments, focuses on teamwork, perseverance, and empathy. Demonstrates power of friendship and found family, the reality of coming to terms with your past while also moving forward, the necessity of offering -- and accepting -- forgiveness and second chances. Lessons about believing in yourself, warnings about the evils of bigotry, eugenics, supremacy.
Positive Role Models
Guardians are brave (if at times impulsive), smart, thoughtful, strategic. They might have had shady pasts, but they stick by a code and are loyal to one another, acting heroically to save their families and friends. They are examples of how individuals form kinship bonds. Peter learns to accept that things won't always work out the way he wants them to. Some villains are outright evil, but at least one finds redemption, illustrating the franchise's belief in second chances.
Centered around a White male lead. Though people of color play several key roles, nearly all are hidden under makeup and VFX, including Zoe Saldana (Black Latina) as Gamora, Dave Bautista (Greek-Filipino American) as Drax, Pom Klementieff (Korean) as Mantis, Vin Diesel (multiracial) as Groot, dulling any sense of ethnic diversity. The main visibly non-White character is The High Evolutionary, the central villain, who's played by Nigerian actor Chukwudi Iwuji. Women are more than sidekicks here and don't just exist to prop up the male characters. They have agency and contribute to the group, whether it's physical strength or super empathy/persuasion.
Inclusion information: Black actors, Latinx actors
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Violence & Scariness
Several upsetting scenes involving Rocket's past, which is revealed to be a traumatic story of grief and animal torture/death (hybrid creatures made through experiments may be alarming to young kids). Massive destruction. Many weapons (guns, bombs, blades, more) used to blast, threaten, harm, and kill. Characters are shot, incinerated, and decapitated, with gore and skeletal remains visible. One main character is near death for much of the movie. Other sympathetic characters are killed or appear to die. Children are held captive. Intense one-on-one fights and one choreographed battle sequence that's Kingsman-like in its violence. When Nebula is badly hurt, she can snap her body parts back into place, which can be jarring. Medical procedures shown. Alien creatures bleed in many colors. Large, intimidating monsters/hybrid creatures. A character pries something out of someone else's bloody head after that person dies a violent, revenge-fueled death. A character is attacked, and his face is left a bloody mess. A character's skin-covered mask is taken off, revealing a bloody face below. Many people die when a person made for killing terrorizes and kills others. A leader destroys an entire planet of inhabitants whom he views as expendable experiments; this same attitude affects his opinion of most other living creatures. A living space station has a lot of squishy, goopy features that may be unpleasant for some. Mantis sometimes makes creatures do things against their will. Arguments/yelling.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirting, intense eye contact, and a couple of compliments. Mantis makes a security guard fall in love with Drax.
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Includes the first use of "f--k" in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: "Get in the f---ing car." Other strong language: "s--t," "d--k," "ass," "a--hole," "d--khead," "stupid," "douche bag," "bitch," "damn," "dammit," "screw you," "dang," "shut up," "idiot," "twit," "piss," "suck my --" (incomplete), "moron," "butt," "dumb," "freakin'," "friggin'," "oh my God," "hell." Groot's comments can sometimes be interpreted as cursing.
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Products & Purchases
Brands visible include Sony, Ford. Part of the broad MCU franchise with countless tie-in products available.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In an early scene, Peter gets so drunk that he must be carried out of a tavern -- and it's clear that it's not the first time. A character witnesses a drug deal involving underage beings. The drug is later referenced as meth.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is the third (and theoretically final) feature film in the massively popular MCU sub-franchise about the ragtag found-family group. This time around, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot (Vin Diesel), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) must enlist the help of "other timeline" Gamora (Zoe Saldana) to save Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) from a villain who believes he's working for the betterment of the galaxy by trying to create the perfect species. This is the darkest and goriest of the three Guardians films: It explores the deep-seated trauma that one of the characters experienced early in life and has upsetting scenes of animal torture and experimentation. There's also explosive sci-fi action violence, mass destruction, decapitations, weapons use, blood, skeletal remains, and a huge body count (some of them sympathetic characters). Expect a fair bit of strong language, including the MCU's first F-word (dropped by Quill in a moment of frustration), plus "a--hole," "s--t," "d--k," "bitch," and more. Characters flirt, and Quill gets extremely drunk. But he's also fiercely loyal to his crew, and the Guardians continue to demonstrate teamwork, perseverance, and courage.
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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Based on 33 parent reviews
Lots of Animal Abuse - Know before you go
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Too sad and violent and not very good or funny.
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What's the Story?
In GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3, the Guardians, having (mostly) survived the events of the previous MCU films, are living in Knowhere in a state of low-key PTSD. That's particularly true for Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who's still mourning the death of his Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Then Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) -- a killing machine genetically engineered and raised by Sovereign leader Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) to destroy the Guardians -- ends up surprising the gang and leaving Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) near death. Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) discover that Rocket has a "kill switch" inside him that needs to be overridden if they want to save his life, so the whole gang -- including Groot (Vin Diesel) and Drax (Dave Bautista) -- head off to track down the code. Their search ultimately leads to the ultrapowerful High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), who's trying to create utopian societies throughout the universe. Rocket's past -- and his connection to The High Evolutionary -- reveal how he came to be, what kind of creature he really is, and even how he got his name. Meanwhile, Peter must come to terms with the reality that the Gamora who's from the other timeline introduced in Endgame never lived through the love story he shared with the Gamora who died in Infinity War.
Is It Any Good?
Surprisingly heartfelt, this movie is the darkest and most personal of the three Guardians films -- but also the most uneven. Writer-director James Gunn knows how to make this ragtag bunch work, but there's a layer of sadness that envelops the proceedings, despite the many laugh-out-loud moments. On the one hand, this mission has the established camaraderie of the second movie, one of the most ruthless villains in the entire MCU (The High Evolutionary is memorably terrifying with his perfection obsession), and a decades-spanning soundtrack that includes everything from Radiohead's "Creep" and the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" to Bruce Springsteen's "Badlands" and Florence and the Machine's "Dog Days Are Over." On the other hand, the extensive flashbacks to Rocket's past, while illuminating, have such a different pace and character development that Vol. 3 sometimes feels like two stories smooshed together. The introduction of Adam Warlock is also uneven, and Poulter, who's a talented and funny actor, isn't given much to do except preen, kill, and whine for most of the movie.
Then there's the Gamora factor, which is necessarily complicated because she's not the same Gamora audiences have grown to love. It's difficult to feel invested in this Gamora, and her presence is sometimes more unpleasant than humorous. Like Peter, many viewers are likely to miss the old Gamora too much to enjoy Saldana's performance here. Pratt knows how to continue to make Star Lord lovable and messy and a bit of a wreck, and Cooper does a lovely job of conveying the trauma that Rocket experienced, as well as his core desire to belong to a found family. Bautista gets a great moment to shine when he forms a bond with a group of genetically engineered children, and Gillan's Nebula has her biggest role in the group to date, stepping up as a real leader. The visual effects focus on hybrid creatures created for potential utopias and sequences of violent whole-world destruction. The hybrids are purposefully uncanny and unsettling. It's unclear whether there will be more Guardians films in the future now that Gunn has left the MCU, so this is a good time to enjoy his final contribution to the franchise -- and be thankful for the questions he finally answered here.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the violence in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. How does it compare to the two previous movies? To other MCU movies? What's the impact of violence on kids?
Which characters do you consider role models? How do they demonstrate teamwork, perseverance, and courage? Why are those important character strengths?
Talk about The High Evolutionary's vision: What's wrong with his way of thinking? What does he lose by viewing Rocket and his friends as failed experiments? Can you think of parallels to real life?
What did you think of the soundtrack to Vol. 3? Kids/teens: Does the movie make you interested in music from the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s?
What do you think happens next? Is the franchise done, will it continue as-is, or will it follow only a couple of the main characters?
- In theaters: May 5, 2023
- Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Pom Klementieff
- Director: James Gunn
- Inclusion Information: Black actors, Latinx actors
- Studio: Disney/Marvel
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Courage, Empathy, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 150 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action, strong language, suggestive/drug references and thematic elements
- Last updated: May 3, 2023
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