a white man and two alien-looking people all in matching outfits walk in a line
Credit: Jessica Miglio / Marvel Studios

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 starts and ends quietly, while in between there’s a whole lot of action, seat-shaking explosions, and the witty banter fans expect. But after being bombarded with a slew of characters, battles, and a task-driven plot, audiences may wonder what just happened. The film opens, perhaps unironically, in Knowhere, where the Guardians have settled into community building. Bo-ring! Good thing Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) shows up and kicks everyone’s butt, leaving Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) injured and giving the Guardians their first task: save their furry friend by stealing some . . . it doesn’t really matter. A treacly backstory traces Rocket’s deeply disturbing origins, which make you thankful no actual animals were harmed in the filming. Peter (Chris Pratt) is upset that the Gamora (Zoe Saldana) he knows is dead. The new Gamora doesn’t know him, and she’s a badass Ravager now. Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) continue their sweet, snarky repartee from the Christmas . . . sorry . . . Holiday Special, and Kraglin (Sean Gunn) is having trouble controlling his shaft. Plus there’s a talking Russian dog named Cosmo (voiced by Maria Bakalova), numerous cute, furry animals, menacing animals, bioengineered animals, anthropomorphic animals, a baddie with his face sewn on called the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few hundred other characters. Also Groot is there (voiced by Vin Diesel). While better than most recent Marvel or DC films, it definitely lacks the fun, buddy-film aspects and sincere relationships of the original in lieu of an exhausting mission-based story. PG-13, 150 min.

Wide release in theaters