‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,’ and the summer movie slate


Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios

Isaac Hinson, Columnist

Once more with feeling. The summer movie season has kicked off with the premiere of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” on May 5, written and directed once again by James Gunn, the movie comes five years after the previous installment in the franchise. 

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”

My relationship to these movies runs deep. My father introduced me to the Guardians on my 10th birthday when he gifted me a subscription box at my local comic book store (Shout-out I Like Comics and it’s lovely manager Chris) and in it were two issues: the recently dual relaunched “Nova” #1 and “Guardians of the Galaxy” #1. Both of which I still have to this day. 

Since 2013, my relationship to the Guardians has only grown. The first film was one of my instant-favorites, and still is. Contrary, 13-year-old me was not a fan of “Vol. 2” when he first saw it. I didn’t like the lack of action, slow-pacing or the soundtrack, especially compared to the “Vol. 1” soundtrack. But since, I have grown to love “Vol. 2” greatly. It’s my favorite of the trilogy, and my favorite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). 

I went into “Vol. 3” cautiously optimistic. I’ve become fairly disenfranchised with the MCU since “Vol. 2” released, especially recently with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” being two of the worst movies I have ever seen. I liked the shows “Hawkeye” and “Loki,” and the movie “Eternals” quite a bit, and enjoyed the theatrical experiences of “Avengers: Endgame” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” but I can’t say I’ve truly been impressed with much that has released since “Avengers: Infinity War.” 

I’m happy to say that I really enjoyed “Vol. 3.” I can’t say I loved it, as it falls into typical Marvel trappings, a bloated and visually muddy third act and poor moments of writing among other things. Regardless, it easily elevates itself over recent MCU fare thanks to the excellent first two acts and legitimate powerhouse performances from Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord and Bradley Cooper voicing Rocket Raccoon. 

The movie is arguably the darkest movie tonally in the MCU. Even so, the dark tone only really shows in a continuous series of flashbacks involving Rocket and his origins. The flashbacks provide both the emotional weight of the film as well as adding further depth to both Rocket and the antagonist of the film, the High Evolutionary played by Chukwudi Iwuji, who is far and away one of the better MCU villains. 

The Summer Movie Season

“Guardians” proved worthwhile as a conclusion to this trilogy of films. But on the other hand, it also serves well as an introduction to this summer movie season, one of the best times of the year for movies. 

Unlike last year where Hollywood was still recovering from the production shutdown caused by COVID-19, this is an absolutely packed summer, with essentially one major release debuting each weekend through the rest of May up until the end of August. 


Catching my eye this weekend is the Robert Rodriguez-directed and Ben Affleck-starring thriller “Hypnotic,” which follows Affleck playing a detective tracking down his missing daughter and figuring out the link between her disappearance and a string of bank robberies. 

The next weekend brings four movies that I shockingly all want to see: “Fast X,” the Jack Harlow led reimagining of “White Men Can’t Jump,” the newest film from Paul Schrader “Master Gardener” and the new NEON production “Sanctuary” starring new-age genre mainstays Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbott. 

The only “Fast” movies I’ve seen are the original and the 2019 spin-off “Hobbs and Shaw,” yet when I saw the trailer on an IMAX screen while watching “Guardians,” I couldn’t help but feel a desire to see it. The action looks good, and the cast is absolutely massive. Particularly, Jason Momoa looks electric as the villain, and I just generally enjoy Jason Statham doing cool shit in action movies. 

May ends with one movie sure to dominate the Holiday weekend: Disney’s newest live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.” Halle Bailey of Chloe x Halle fame leads as Ariel, and while I have full confidence in her to deliver on both the acting and the singing, the movie looks painfully cheap, much like their two most recent Disney remakes “Pinocchio” and “Peter Pan and Wendy.”


June starts with what could easily be the best movie of the summer: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” We’re about four-and-a-half years removed from the release of the original “Spider-Verse,” and if “Across” is anywhere near as good as the first it’ll be one of the better animated movies of the year. 

The weekend of the 9th sees the Transformers return to the big screen for the first time since 2018’s “Bumblebee” with “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” which is being headlined by “Hamilton” star Anthony Ramos. I can’t say I’m particularly interested, but I might check it out. 

The middle of June has another four-movie theatrical release weekend. Occupying most of the screens will be the long in-development “The Flash,” releasing alongside Pixar’s “Elemental,” the new directorial effort from Wes Anderson “Asteroid City” and the first horror-comedy of the summer “The Blackening.” 

I will likely be doing a double feature of “The Flash” and “Asteroid City” this weekend. “The Flash” does sadly look more like a Batman movie than a Flash movie, I still think it looks like a good time at the theater regardless. For “Asteroid City,” I think the trailer looks amazing, and any new Anderson is an opening weekend viewing for me. 

June 23rd, the weekend of my birthday, sees just one wide-release: the Jennifer Lawrence starring adult-comedy “No Hard Feelings.” I love Jennifer Lawrence, and I’m happy to see Hollywood begin a return to comedies that aren’t just superhero movies.

The last day of June belongs to one man: Indiana Jones. James Mangold (“Logan,” “Ford V. Ferrari”) directs what is assumedly Harrison Ford’s last outing as Jones, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” I love all four “Jones” movies, even “Crystal Skull,” so needless to say I can’t wait. 


The initial weekend of July brings actor Patrick Wilson’s directorial debut, “Insidious: The Red Door,” the fifth installment in the franchise which he pioneered with James Wan. Wilson hasn’t been involved with the franchise since the second film, and coincidentally that is also when they started getting bad, so I hope his return also welcomes a return to form for the series. 

July 14th belongs to my most anticipated movie of the summer by a wide margin, the Tom Cruise starring, Christopher McQuarrie directed and written and best-title-of-the-summer-having “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”. The seventh installment, and predecessor to the series conclusion, has a tough act to live up to following modern classic “Mission: Impossible – Fallout,” but if last year’s “Top Gun: Maverick” tells us anything, it’s that McQuarrie and Cruise still have the juice. 

The very next weekend is going to be the summer’s marquee box-office-battle, the duel of Christopher Nolan and Greta Gerwig’s respective ensembles “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie.” My plan is to see them both opening weekend as a double feature, and hopefully have the best movie-going day of my summer. 


The final month of the summer begins with two sequels/reboots, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” and “Meg 2: The Trench.” The new “Ninja Turtles” is a “Spider-Verse”-inspired animated release and is being produced by Seth Rogen, while “Meg” is a Jason Statham led action movie, which should promise both as a good time. 

Things start to slow down here. The second weekend of August is headlined by the newest video game adaptation, “Gran Turismo”. David Harbour is starring, and the racing seems cool, but I would much rather just see an original David Harbour led racing movie. 

Wrapping up the superhero slate of the summer the next weekend is DC’s “Blue Beetle,” starring “Cobra Kai” breakout star Xolo Maridueña. I really like Maridueña in “Cobra Kai,” and I think it’ll be fun to see him lead a superhero movie. 

The final weekend of August, and in turn the final weekend of the summer, has two releases that I’m interested in. First, a top-secret Blumhouse production called “They Listen,” which is starring John Cho and Katherine Waterson, and the high school comedy “Bottoms,” which stars one of my favorite actresses, Rachel Sennott. 

Anything that Jason Blum thinks is worthy of a theatrical release will always be interesting to me, and I love both Cho and Waterson, so I’m ready for “They Listen.” And last year’s Rachel Sennott horror-comedy “Bodies Bodies Bodies” has really grown on me in retrospect, and she was easily the best part of that movie, so I’ve got season tickets for anything that she’s in and “Bottoms” will be my first use of them.