Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Cinematic Universe Edition [Blu-ray 4K]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (16th September 2017).
The Film

In 2014 Marvel surprised everyone with "Guardians of the Galaxy" elevating formally "B" and "C" list characters front and center in a big budget Phase Two Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Off beat horror director James Gunn was hired to bring the adventure to life and boy did he nail it. The film ended up being one of the best entries in the MCU, delighting critics and fans, making a boatload of money, and introducing a new generation of fans to the loveable and mischievous cast of characters. Here we are now, Phase Three, and the long-awaited and hotly anticipated follow-up finally hits home video after a successful theatrical run surpassing the stellar box office of the first film.

Taking place right after the first film, here we see The Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) - now with a galactic reputation, are hired by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) leader of The Sovereign to kill a giant space monster wrecking havoc on the planet and to protect the precious batteries that the planet covets. They handle the monster in a superb opening sequence, gain the admiration and respect of The Sovereign, are handed, as prisoner, Nebula (Karen Gillan) but as usual Rocket screws things up, by stealing a battery... Ayesha takes exception to this and vows to hunt down The Guardians and retrieve their batteries. While evading destruction, The Guardians are saved by a mysterious ship and find themselves crashed on another foreign planet, which they soon discover belongs to Ego (Kurt Russell). Ego has been searching for Peter for a long time, because he is Peter's father. What follows is an adventure to evade The Sovereign, hunted down by The Ravagers, as Peter deals with familial issues pertaining to his newly discovered father, who has a dark secret and sinister intent behind it all.

"Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is a thoroughly rousing adventure, it's bigger, bolder, but manages to make the enormity of the franchise seem intimate and character driven - a rare service when dealing with tent pole blockbuster films. The charm of these films is and will always be in its characters. This second outing has really solidified these relationships, they truly feel like a family in every sense of the word. They clearly love each other, the emotions feel genuine, the interactions are believable. These actors are not just playing these now iconic characters, they are living their roles and crafted with James Gunn's wonderful sense of humor has once again delivered an interesting dynamic.

The team has expanded, Yondu (Michael Rooker) gets more to do and manages to steal many of the scenes he's in. He was one of my favorite characters from the first film and I'm so happy to see his character given more screen time and allowing his character to have much more depth than previously seen. He has such a wonderful story arc that unfortunately ends in sadness... but despite this Rooker crafts a memorable character that will hopefully be known as one of his greatest roles. Mantis (Pom Klementieff) is the newest Guardian, formally the assistant/slave of Ego - her interactions with Drax are humorous and delightful. They add so much more to this film, along with a line of surprising cameos that include David Hasselhoff, Sylvester Stallone, Ving Rhames, and Michelle Yeoh.

This film is bigger, brighter, and bolder than the first. A general rule of sequel making - make it bigger! The action scenes are fantastically composed, from the action packed opening scene to the space battles with The Sovereign, the epic Ego planetary sequences. The film looks gorgeous from the lush and vibrant cinematography to the the impeccable CGI, and set pieces that are vast and impressive. One of the coolest visual effects elements revolves around a young Kurt Russell which was done with a combination of make-up and visual effects. The final act planet ending sequence is also visually stunning and certainly manages to keep viewers interested... for the most part.

The biggest problem with sequels is that bigger isn't often better. There are issues much like the previous film our heroes never really feel like they're in too much danger. They manage to slip out of trouble relatively easily and overcome their obstacles without too much effort. There are reused jokes here and there, the Ego's motivations where convoluted and frankly once the film finished there wasn't a sense of relief that our heroes made it out. Perhaps in the third film our band of a-holes really need a challenge that will change them all forever, something earth-shattering with real weight... or maybe that's what the forthcoming "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018) will address?

It's not as satisfying as the first film, but it's a decent follow-up. There's enough action, spectacle, and humor to keep fans engaged. Once again it's really the film's characters that truly make this an enjoyable movie. I'd looked forward to this film after viewing the first, and story issues aside, I'd certainly anticipate a third installment.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen, mastered in Ultra 4K 2160p 24/fps mastered in HEVC compression. This 4K image is a stunner, I would definitely consider this reference quality. The image is sharp, beautiful, bold, and vibrant. Skin tones look natural, colors are vivid, blacks are deep and inky. Image detail is spectacular, sharp and featuring excellent texture. Overall it's a top notch image. There is also a disc which features an HD 1080p version of the film, this is also a good option, the image here fantastic for HD, but if you've got 4K capability then it's a no brainer which version to watch.

Audio

The 4K disc features audio in English Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 surround, English Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround, French (Parisian) Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround, German Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround, Japanese Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround, French (Canadian) Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and English Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The HD 1080p blu-ray features audio in English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround, French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and English Audio Descriptive Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. For the purposes of the review I chose to view the film in 4K with its English Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 surround track. Much like the image this audio track is a stunner, the dialogue is clean and clear, the action scenes shine with an active soundscape. The channels feature an immersive experience with an awesome soundtrack featuring some cool pop hits. Overall it's a fantastic audio package. If your system doesn't support Atmos, then the DD plus 7.1 surround track is also a good option. Optional subtitles are included in Cantonese, English for the hearing impaired, French (Canadian), French (Parisian), German, Japanese, Mandarin (Traditional), and Spanish. The Blu-ray disc includes optional subtitles in English for the hearing impaired, French, and Spanish.

Extras

Buena Vista has included this film as a 2-disc set, the first disc features the Blu-ray 4K, the second disc is the standard Blu-ray, it's this second disc that houses the extras which include an audio commentary, a featurette, a 4-part documentary, a music video, a gag reel, a series of deleted scenes, plus a collection of bonus trailers. A code is also included to download a digital copy version of the film. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

DISC ONE: BLU-RAY 4K

The only content on this disc is the film presented in 4K 2160p.

DISC TWO: BLU-RAY

This disc features the HD 1080p version of the film and features the following extras:

The film includes a feature-length audio commentary by writer/director James Gunn. Gunn provides an interesting track that follows the progression from script to completion, as the director shares stories from the set and on the fun he had making the film, but also comments on the challenges of making a sequel to a film that has become beloved by critics and fans.

"Visionary Intro" featurette which runs for 1 minute 39 seconds, this is basically an introduction to the film as Gunn talks about the film's story.

"Bonus Round: The Making of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" is a 4-part documentary, you can view this individually or with a 'play all' option.

- "In the Director's Chair with James Gunn" run for 8 minutes 36 seconds. The director talks about success and on making the sequel and working with the fantastic cast.
- "Reunion Tour: The Music of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" runs for 7 minutes 37 seconds, this clip takes a look at the tracks selected as Awesome Mix Vol.2 for this film.
- "Living Planets and Talking Trees: The Visual Effects of Vol. 2" runs for 10 minutes 44 seconds, this clip takes a look at creating EGO and the CGI effects work that went into making this film.
- "Showtime: The Cast of Vol. 2" runs for 10 minutes 41 seconds, this takes a look at the cast and the characters they play.

"Guardians Inferno" music video by The Sneepers featuring David Hasselhoff runs for 3 minutes 35 seconds (1080i).

A gag reel runs for 3 minutes 41 seconds, this features some bloopers and line flubs, some fun stuff here but the usual collection of mistakes caught on camera.

A collection of 4 deleted scenes which runs a collective 5 minutes 4 seconds. Or can be viewed individually, they are:

- "Adolescent Groot: Extended" runs for 1 minute 1 second.
- "Memorial to the War on Xandar" runs for 1 minute 18 seconds.
- "Kraglin and Quill Talk Tunes" runs for 41 seconds.
- "Mantis and Drax Feel the Sadness: Extended" runs for 2 minutes 3 seconds.

There are a collection of bonus trailers that include:

- "Guardians of the Galaxy"
- "The Telltale Series"
- "Marvel Vs" video game
- "Capcom Infinite" video game
- "Thor: Ragnarok"

Included in the case is a code that allows you to download a digital copy version of the film.

Packaging

Packaged in a 2-disc keep case housed in a cardboard slip-case.

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: B+ Overall: B

 


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