Jamie Skinner reviews the highly anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3: In order to save Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), the Guardians set out to find data which could save him, leading them to his creator (Chukwudi Iwuji), still intent on creating the perfect society.

Cert - 12, Run-time - 2 hours 30 minutes, Director - James Gunn

Come And Get Your Love, Mr Blue Sky, Creep. The latter track by Radiohead stands out as a sombre, more serious track, particularly in the opening to writer-director James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy trilogy closer. The titular team are in a state of disarray. Despite going up in the universe with their own space-travelling HQ, loss has fractured them. Rising arguments create a feeling that the group is closer to disbanding than anything else.

When the Guardians had their first big screen outing in 2014 a feature length take on such a lesser-known comic-book team was Marvel’s biggest risk. Yet, since then the characters have become much-loved fan favourites. There’s a slight feeling of going back to the start within the opening stages of this third ‘solo’ outing as the distant relationship between the core team is made clear. There’s a slight uncertainty as the tone is more serious compared to the more humorous depiction of their differences and (admittedly more minor) misunderstandings in the past.

This most shown after an attack from superpowered Adam Warlock (Will Poulter) leaves Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) severely injured. With just 48 hours to save him the Guardians must pull themselves together to get data from the organisation which funded his creation. Each step taking them closer to his creator the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), intent on making the perfect animal society on an alternate Earth.

While he may be unconcious for much of it, Rocket is a core focus of the film as we delve into his past, particularly with the High Evolutionary - such scenes working best when the threat of the villain is truly shown. writer-director James Gunn has made his connection to the character clear on a number of occasions, but this doesn’t shift anything away from the rest of the group. Once the narrative is properly set in place and starts to move there’s plenty of time given to each of them. It’s clear that the cast care and enjoy them just as much as Gunn does and each figure gives a good performance, successfully avoiding tones of saying goodbye for two-and-a-half hours. Chris Pratt’s Star Lord may still be labelled the captain, but he’s certainly no longer the dominant lead.

Instead, this is another entertaining sci-fi action-adventure with plenty of visual flair along the way. The makeup, prosthetics and visual effects which have been so well used in the previous films return to liven up the settings and action sequences and simply help to lift them up with more than a burst of colour. Once you’re in for the ride there’s plenty to enjoy about this re-teaming of the Guardians Of The Galaxy. Living up to the tagline “once more with feeling” without an overbearing sentimentality and feeling of goodbye wrung dry throughout.

Jamie Skinner, Four stars ****