Guardians of the Galaxy (Blu-ray) (2014)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 3-Dec-2014

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Audio Commentary-with Director James Gunn
Featurette-Making Of-Guide to the Galaxy with James Gunn
Featurette-The Intergalactic Visual Effects
Deleted Scenes
Additional Footage-Exclusive Look at Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron
Outtakes-Gag Reel
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2014
Running Time 120:51
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By James Gunn
Studio
Distributor
Marvel
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Chris Pratt
Zoe Saldana
Bradley Cooper
Vin Diesel
Dave Bautista
Lee Pace
Michael Rooker
Sean Gunn
Josh Brolin
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Tyler Bates


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Czech
Greek
Polish
Romanian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It’s undeniable that 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy represents Marvel Studio’s most left-field production to date. Adapted from a mostly obscure Marvel series that has existed in various incarnations since the 1970s, this is not so much a superhero movie but rather a science fiction space opera closer to Star Wars than Iron Man. In truth, nobody expected much from Guardians of the Galaxy, and yet it’s easily one of the best pictures in the Marvel canon, a riotously irreverent action-comedy set in a richly-textured, fully-realised world teeming with memorable characters and witty, humorous dialogue - the type of playful, jubilant and emotionally satisfying ride that once defined summer blockbusters before punishing grimness and bloated runtimes became so prevalent. Furthermore, it will be easy for non-Marvel fans and even non-comic book fans to engage in this quirky gem.

    Abducted from Earth as an child right after the death of his beloved mother, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) now roams the galaxy as a self-styled outlaw calling himself Star-Lord. Working for the Ravagers, led by the brutal Yondu (Michael Rooker), Quill happens upon an orb that’s worth a mint and contains a source of devastating power. Also determined to retrieve the orb is green alien Gamora (Zoe Saldana), the adopted daughter of mad titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) who’s in league with the incredibly dangerous Ronan (Lee Pace), another party interested in the orb. Meanwhile, goofy bounty hunters Rocket (Bradley Cooper) - a genetically-engineered raccoon - and Groot (Vin Diesel) - a tree-like humanoid with a limited vocabulary - are out to score big by capturing Quill. Amid the chaos, Quill forms an unlikely alliance with Gamora, Rocket and Groot, who are soon joined by the brute Drax (Dave Bautista). With so many evil forces out to use the orb to rule the galaxy, the reluctant team take it upon themselves to see that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

    Guardians of the Galaxy was in good hands with writer-director James Gunn (who retooled the original script by Nicole Perlman), an underrated indie helmer from the Troma school of filmmaking. Most indie or foreign directors relinquish artistic integrity in their move to Hollywood, but Gunn’s quirky fingerprints are all over Guardians, with shrewd humour and delightfully oddball characters within a cleverly-designed narrative which finds time for world-building and character development without ever becoming drab. It all expectedly builds to a trademark Big Noisy Climax that doesn’t feel entirely essential to this story, but Gunn never lets the picture out of his control; although the digital effects are often obvious, it’s easy to get invested in the battle due to the hugely charismatic cast that we ultimately grow to care about, and because of how intense this final showdown truly is.

    There’s plenty of information floating around the margins that fans will recognise as having been set up before or set to pay off later, but it’s possible to actually care about it all in this context. While Guardians of the Galaxy is highly amusing, the movie at no point devolves into an utter joke, as there are genuine stakes here. Threats are real, drama feels genuine, and there is emotional depth to the crew - Rocket is distressed about being perceived as an animal, Gamora is desperate to escape the shadows of Ronan and Thanos, Drax is haunted by the death of his family at the hands of Ronan, and Quill will risk his life for his beloved Walkman, which represents his last connection to his time on Earth. There’s vivid realism at play here, and Gunn never gives into excess; he maintains a furious pace, and infuses the production with plenty of awe and excitement. It’s an ideal way to kick off a fantasy franchise, and it puts the horrendous Star Wars prequels to shame.

    Backed by a customarily generous budget, Guardians of the Galaxy looks and sounds superb, with top-flight digital effects and equally extraordinary make-up work and sets which give this fantasy wonderland a semi-realistic look. Gamora was originally intended to be pulled off with motion capture, but Saldana was instead given an elaborate make-up job. Likewise, Bautista was covered in practical make-up effects to portray Drax. It’s a great move in the long run, bestowing the characters with a tangible quality that CGI simply cannot achieve. And while Rocket and Groot were digital, they are miracles of motion capture and voice work; it’s simply amazing how much dramatic range Gunn manages to get out of them. And as the cherry on top, the picture is scored with a tastefully-selected buffet of songs from the ’70s and ’80s, amplifying the production’s unique and quirky flavour. Guardians of the Galaxy has achieved something rare by providing a hugely effective soundtrack of old tunes, bringing them back into the limelight for a new generation accustomed to autotuning and dubstep. It further underscores the production’s old-school sensibility, and it helps that each song is so perfectly integrated into the proceedings. Tyler Bates’ original compositions aren’t nearly as memorable, but they are effective.

    Emotion eventually sneaks into the proceedings, but it’s not distracting or contrived. Rather, it flows organically from this story. Therefore, even the most ostensibly clichéd story beats do not come off as cliché in the slightest; they work. And ultimately, that’s what matters in a motion picture of this ilk. You can be forgiven for shedding a few tears as the movie approaches its finish line; personally, I left the cinema with a smile on my face and damp eyes. Who the hell can complain about that?

    The actors are the real high point of the entire enterprise, with absolutely no weak spots in the ensemble to speak of. Chris Pratt is an ideal Star-Lord, mixing equal parts Sterling Archer and Philip J. Fry to play this outlaw. It’s amusing to watch Pratt as Quill, who tries so comically hard after his capture to embody a grade-schooler’s idea of a badass space hero even when he’s hopelessly out of his depth. Saldana is just as good, and Gunn manages to pull a remarkable performance out of wrestler Bautista, who’s a comedic instrument of blunt force to be reckoned with. Diesel is about as good as can be expected for a character who says the same few words over and over again, while Cooper gives real spark and spunk to Rocket.

    Ronan has been branded as an unmemorable villain by some, but he’s easily one of the more successful bad guys we’ve seen in the Marvel canon (certainly better than Jeff Bridges in Iron Man or the notoriously vanilla antagonists in Thor: The Dark World). As Ronan, Lee Pace is authoritative and menacing. We are also given our first glimpse of Josh Brolin as Thanos, and it is awesome. Filling out the supporting cast, there’s the underrated Michael Rooker who’s an absolute riot as Yondu, while John C. Reilly, Benicio del Toro, and even Glenn Close make appearances.

    Guardians of the Galaxy is not only hugely entertaining viewing - it’s also incredibly rewarding. Its combination of well-judged classic tunes, a perfect cast and unforced emotion just comes together amazingly well, and its replay value is through the roof. In fact, if anything, the flick improves with repeat viewings. It’s a fun, hearty afternoon at the movies for all ages, and it is highly recommended.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    I saw Guardians of the Galaxy more times in the cinema than I care to admit, so believe me when I say that this Blu-ray disc faithfully replicates the big screen experience, leaving me thoroughly satisfied. This is a great disc, sporting a gorgeous AVC-encoded 1080p transfer that fans and newcomers will admire.

    Created from a pristine digital master, there is very little to complain about here. The film’s colour palette is often dark and bleak, yet the transfer handles everything extraordinarily well, yielding no bothersome black crush or other encoding anomalies. Detail is consistently strong, and the image remains razor-sharp. Close-ups of faces reveal every pore and hair, which does justice to the production’s extensive use of make-up effects over pure CGI. And the digitally-created shots look just as impressive, with the top-flight VFX mastery making for wonderful Blu-ray fodder.

    Being a digital production, a few shots here and there look a bit too smooth and in need of an added “pop” of detail, but it’s not major, and most people will probably not even notice this. Guardians of the Galaxy is a visual stunner, and it looks amazing on Blu-ray.

    There are a handful of subtitle options available. Sampling the English track, I had no dramas with it.


Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Like most big-budget blockbusters these days, Guardians of the Galaxy is endowed with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. Also on the disc is an English descriptive audio track, and basic 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks in Polish and Czech. I only viewed the movie with the DTS-HD MA 7.1 track, and I was absolutely blown away.

    Thanks to its sizeable budget, this is a professionally-mixed track which makes use of the surround channels in an effective fashion. Scenes in space carry enormously effective ambience, making you feel as if you are there, while the firearms and explosions during the action scenes sound explosive thanks to aggressive subwoofer action. There’s plenty of “oomph” to this track, magnificently replicating the cinema experience.

    Furthermore, the track gives fresh new life to a lot of the classic songs heard throughout. It was a joy to hear the likes of “Come and Get Your Love” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on my surround sound set-up. Tyler Bates’ original score likewise sounds bombastic and effective, mingling well with the dialogue - the chatter is well-prioritised, crisp and sharp.

    Mark this Blu-ray disc as another win for the folks at Marvel/Disney.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    A small but worthwhile selection of supplemental material.

Menu

    Another knockout Marvel menu, full of clips of the movie set to the song "Hooked on a Feeling." Its theme is very in keeping with the movie.

Audio Commentary with Director James Gunn

    It’s a treat to hear Gunn talk about his big-budget blockbuster debut. He’s humble and down-to-earth throughout this track, which is full of detailed production information in relation to casting, scripting, shooting, editing, and so on. He speaks about the merging of action and humour, on top of addressing various questions and curiosities in regards to the making of the film. It’s a real credit to Gunn that he maintains a high level of energy and is clearly interested in the subject matter. Any fan needs to give this track a listen, as it beautifully enriches the film.

Guide to the Galaxy with James Gunn (20:56)

    A nicely-themed behind-the-scenes production documentary that covers as much ground as possible during its brief twenty-minute duration, with each segment being introduced via wonderful, tongue-in-cheek animated sequences aping an 8-bit video game. There is plenty of insightful interviews and on-set footage here, covering the make-up effects, the sets, and the shooting of various set-pieces. This is great stuff, I just wish it was two hours long.

The Intergalactic Visual Effects (7:11)

    Gunn and several of his crew discuss the creation of Rocket and Groot, with various facets of the process discussed in great detail. I really enjoyed this featurette, and though I do wish it was longer, it’s definitely worth watching.

Exclusive Look at Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron (2:17)

    A brief behind-the-scenes glimpse at Age of Ultron, more or less an extended trailer.

Deleted & Extended Scenes (4:22)

    Five deleted scenes are included here, and can be watched individually or via a “Play All” function. Some of this stuff was better left out of the finished movie, but two particular beats - a guard in the Kyln dancing to “Magic” by Pilot on Peter’s Sony Walkman, and the Guardians voting on whether or not Rocket’s laugh was real - would have fit nicely in the final cut. James Gunn provides an optional audio commentary; even he thinks that the dancing guard should’ve been kept in.

Gag Reel (3:54)

    I laughed. I laughed tremendously. It’s clear everybody had a lot of fun filming this movie, and the sense of fun is infectious. Essential viewing.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In terms of supplemental material, every release worldwide is identical. Buy local.

Summary

    Guardians of the Galaxy was a box office dark horse, taking in more money than anyone could have reasonably predicted, and it's critical reception was incredibly positive. Such success was deserved. I love this movie, it it pure cinematic joy, and this Blu-ray is a must-own.

    The Blu-ray presentation is an absolute knockout. Like all Marvel movies under the Disney banner, the extras are great quality if far too slight. The James Gunn audio commentary track is extraordinary. I just wish there was an extensive making-of documentary, especially considering the project's significance.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE