Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 Features Disturbing Scenes Of Animal Abuse, And You Should Be Prepared

This article contains spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3"At the beginning of James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3," out in theaters on May 5, Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper) is attacked by a mysterious gold alien named Adam Warlock. Rocket, a hyper-intelligent raccoon, is grievously injured, and his humanoid friends are unable to heal him using the high-tech medical devices at their disposal and Rocket falls into a coma. Rocket's friends, the Guardians of the Galaxy, scan his body and find that he has been encoded with cybernetic parts that prevent medicine from working on him. They will have to trek all over the galaxy to find the appropriate devices and information to undo the cybernetic coding and save their friend. 

While the Guardians are on their mission, Rocket, comatose, begins dreaming about his past. Rocket remembers that as a baby raccoon, he was genetically and mechanically enhanced by the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), a eugenics-obsessed villain. The High Evolutionary operated on Rocket's brain and threw him into a dank, horrible cage with three other equally "enhanced" lab animals. There is Teefs the Walrus (Asim Chaudhry), who has been equipped with wheels but seemingly has no eyelids. There's Floor the Rabbit (Mikaela Hoover), a bunny with a speaker for a mouth and mechanical spider legs. And there's Lylla the Otter (Linda Cardellini), outfitted with robot arms. 

The flashback sequences are incredibly harrowing. The cages are rusty and unpleasant, and while the animals banter lightly and become fast friends, it's hard to look past the mutilations wrought on them by the mad scientist experimenting on them. Floor especially appears to be in pain. 

Lovers of animals, take heed. Despite being presented in a fantasy context, these images are difficult to look at. Some may even be reminded of Martin Rosen's 1981 animated film "The Plague Dogs."

Animal Testing

It should be said that "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3" is most certainly trying to shock audiences with these images of animals in cages. This is a film that opposes animal testing and wants to communicate to audiences how horrible it is. James Gunn is not trying to wring laughs out of animals in pain. The fact that he experiments on animals is yet another facet of the High Evolutionary's villainy. 

Throughout "Vol. 3," animals are seen in stacked cages, unhappy and unaware, waiting for their fate. In a scene part way through the film, the High Evolutionary introduces a baby Rocket to a specialized evolution chamber that transforms animals into intelligent humanoid versions of themselves. He reveals that the process tends to leave his subjects monstrously violent. He grows a turtle into a turtle person, then immediately incinerates it.

The High Evolutionary has also employed multiple test animals as his bodyguards. Keen on inserting large pieces of machinery into his subjects, he has outfitted a grown pig with a massive, clanking metal skeleton, and much of the pig's interior is left exposed. The pig doesn't appear to be in pain, but it looks pretty sick. If Jigsaw from the "Saw" movies was able to construct a helper animal, it would look like the pig monster from "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3." This is less a warning about images of animal cruelty so much as it is a warning that this PG-13-rated superhero flick contains one of the scariest horror monsters I've seen in years. 

In Cages

One should also be warned that not all of the animals, and there are many, are going to make it out alive. I know there is a contingent of audience members who wince when a dog is harmed or killed in a movie, with many refusing to see a film if there is any harm to animals at all. Know, then, that those in the latter camp will either want to give "Vol. 3" a miss. I will not delve into spoilers, but I will say that there is some on-screen animal death. Yes, it's simulated — this is not "Cannibal Holocaust" — but it's disturbing nonetheless. 

Perhaps this might help: without revealing too many vital details, the film ultimately ends well. During the extended climax, the High Evolutionary is confronted, natch, and the audience will learn what happens to his zoo of test animals ... and test children. Needless to say, there is an element of comeuppance for the villain, and his victims achieve justice. If one hates animal violence, but like to watch the torturers get their due, then perhaps "Vol. 3" will be palatable after all. 

But consider this fair warning. This is a film that, in certain shots, looks like a secret film taken in the world's filthiest industrial farm. Rocket's origin story is that he fled a horrible situation. "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3" depicts that horrible situation in explicit detail. For those unbothered, then no warning is needed. But it is pretty terrifying to witness. 

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