Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 23-Aug-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Introduction-Visionary Intro
Featurette-Making Of-Bonus Round: The Making of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Music Video-Guardians Inferno
Outtakes-Outrageous Gag Reel
Deleted Scenes
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 135:46
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
Dave Bautista
Michael Rooker
Karen Gillan
Vin Diesel
Bradley Cooper
Kurt Russell
Pom Klementieff
Elizabeth Debicki
Chris Sullivan
Sean Gunn
Laura Haddock
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
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Kazak Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
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 for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Five additional scenes

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Plot Synopsis

    2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy was something of a curveball from the folks at Marvel Studios, with its irreverent nature, space setting and lack of any actual superheroes in its alien ensemble. But it worked like gangbusters and movie-goers fell in love with the motley team of Guardians, propelling the endeavour to unexpected box office success. For 2017’s inevitable sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, indie filmmaker James Gunn returns to write and direct (this time penning the script solo), showing once again that he has an innate understanding of what makes this property work. To date, Marvel has not had much luck with second instalments - Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World and Avengers: Age of Ultron arguably underwhelmed, though Captain America: The Winter Soldier was admittedly excellent - but luckily, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 doesn’t fall victim to this apparent curse. While Vol. 2 has a lot on its mind and introduces added complexity to this world, it also retains the charms of the original picture, making for an enormously successful sequel that will almost certainly please established fans.

    Picking up not long after the events of the original movie, the self-proclaimed Guardians of the Galaxy have embraced their reputation as skilled guns-for-hire, accepting a mission from the gold-skinned Sovereign people to protect valuable batteries from an inter-dimensional monster. In exchange, the team - Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista), and Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) - only ask for custody of Gamora’s estranged sister, Nebula (Karen Gillan), to transport her to Xander. However, Rocket steals some of the batteries, and in retaliation the Sovereign leader Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) sends a fleet of remote drones to attack the Guardians ship. Crash landing on a nearby planet following the attack, the Guardians are confronted with all-powerful Celestial being Ego (Kurt Russell), who claims to be Peter’s biological father. Despite Ego’s ostensible abandonment, Peter accepts his father’s invitation to visit his Eden-like planet, whose only other resident is his assistant, a kind-hearted empathy named Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Meanwhile, the Ravagers - led by Yondu (Michael Rooker) - are hired by Ayesha to pursue the Guardians.

    Whereas Iron Man 2 and Thor 2 were both marred by the obligation for “world-building” work, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 wisely avoids this pitfall - Gunn uses the sequel to delve deeper into the principal characters with their respective personal demons and perpetual hang-ups. In turn, the scale is cut back - the majority of Vol. 2 takes place either on Ego’s planet or the Ravager ship, making for a more intimate and rewarding experience. Luckily, the plot’s ultimate trajectory was kept hidden in the trailers, allowing for some genuine surprises - particularly in regards to the primary villain and his motivation. Despite the intimacy of this tale, however, the stakes are still high, once again concerning the fate of the galaxy itself, which leaves the Guardians of the Galaxy striving to live up to their title a second time. Nevertheless, Vol. 2 does lack the snap of the original movie - it’s fine for this follow-up to delve into denser territory, but pacing is not as sure-footed and the writing is not as witty. Indeed, the humour is hit-and-miss - although there are a lot of laughs, the script tries too hard to be funny at times.

    The original Guardians of the Galaxy was characterised by its soundtrack of classic tunes, and naturally this characteristic is carried over into Vol. 2. Once again, songs provide the backdrop for amusing, memorable set-pieces, giving this sequel genuine life and energy. The opening sequence depicts an intense battle between the Guardians and a tentacled monster, but the focus is predominantly kept on Baby Groot, who merrily moves around the platform dancing to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” while the carnage unfolds around him. It’s a delightful way to reacquaint audiences with this unique and colourful world, kicking off the sequel on a real high note. Equally bravura is a set-piece which depicts the full-blown massacre of well over a hundred aliens, set to the tune of “Come a Little Bit Closer.” In Gunn’s hands, the sequence is simultaneously funny and even heart-warming, which is quite a feat. Gunn also makes use of the Looking Glass song “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” which is tied into the narrative, while “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens backs an enormously touching final scene. Much like the original 2014 movie, it’s wonderful to see so many vintage songs being reintroduced in contemporary pop culture.

    As to be expected from a $200 million blockbuster, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 both looks and sounds superb, emerging as one of the most colourful motion pictures of the 2017 summer season. The first movie to be shot at 8K resolution with Red Weapon Dragon rigs, it’s visually resplendent from top to bottom, bolstered by imaginative production design, dynamic cinematography and vivid CGI. Of particular note is Ego’s planet, a miraculous computer-generated fantasyland which seems to be truly alive. As with similar blockbusters, while the digital effects are insanely detailed, the results do tend to look artificial rather than tangible, but it’s believable enough to sell the illusion, and both Rocket and Groot are once again miracles of motion capture. On the big screen, Vol. 2 is one hell of an experience. Composer Tyler Bates (a regular Gunn collaborator) also makes his return here, and his compositions are layered and flavoursome, even bringing back the Guardians theme established in the original movie. There is such a thing as too much money, however - the enormous, prolonged climax does get a bit much, at times losing sight of the intimacy of this story. Although there are some excellent character moments and the ultimate dénouement is touching as hell, the sequence does feel excessive and may test your patience.

    The astute character work of the original feature is thankfully carried over to Vol. 2 - Peter still has thinly-veiled crush on Gamora, and Drax is still hilariously incapable of actually thinking before he speaks. Bautista continues to score laughs with each unfiltered thing he says, working to keep the flick feeling bubbly and fun even when it dabbles in darker subject matter. Pratt, meanwhile, remains note-perfect as Star-Lord, emanating charm and effortlessly handling the weightier material within this particular story. Interesting to note, Marvel Studios do not own the movie rights to the character of Ego - they actually reside over at Fox with the X-Men rights. Gunn was initially unaware of this when he started penning the screenplay for Vol. 2, but luckily Fox ultimately permitted his presence in the movie, which is fortunate because the story heavily hinges on Ego. Russell is a total gem in the role, handling the multiple layers with ease, and he shares terrific chemistry with Pratt. The movie’s opening scene set in 1980 uncannily de-ages Russell through a combination of make-up and CGI, making him look the same as he did in movies like Escape from New York and The Thing. Elsewhere in the cast, Rooker is still an utter gift as Yondu, while Sylvester Stallone also manages to make a positive impression despite his minor role as a Ravager. Another newcomer is Klementieff, a terrific find as Mantis. Marvel legend Stan Lee also drops in for his trademark cameo, and in doing so Gunn finds a way to ostensibly link all of his prior cameos and apparently confirm a longstanding fan theory that he always plays the same character. Who expected that?!

    Although I do admit that I had more raw fun with the original Guardians of the Galaxy, there is much to appreciate about this sequel, with its luscious eye-candy and thrilling action sequences. It goes to deeper and weirder places, the chemistry between the ensemble cast is still brilliantly palpable, and the superb soundtrack further contributes to the infectiously fun vibe. Above all that, however, Vol. 2’s emotionally resonant conclusion will stick with you after the end credits expire, and you will once again be left wanting to see another instalment. Gunn is currently set to return for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which would denote the first time in Marvel history that a director has seen a trilogy through. As ever, there is a post-credits scene...which follows four other additional scenes during the credits.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 debuts on Blu-ray courtesy of Disney, with an AVC-encoded high definition presentation that retains the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.40:1. (Worth noting that the 3D version opens up to the IMAX ratio of 1.85:1 during select sequences, but this 2D presentation stays at 2.40:1 all the way through.) In a first from Disney and Marvel, the movie is also debuting on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, which is the superior way to watch the movie at home, but this 1080p transfer is certainly no slouch. The presentation is razor-sharp and boasts incredible clarity, not to mention it benefits from Disney's exceptional track record with encoding.

    The presentation was visibly created from a pristine digital source, perhaps directly from the digital intermediate, and therefore there's plenty of detail to behold on skin, costumes, and the intricate digital creations (seriously, Baby Groot and Rocket look spectacular). But the transfer's sharpness really is something to behold, as object delineation is spectacular no matter the environment. Individual hairs are effortlessly brought out, from Ego's immense beard to all the hairs on Rocket's body.

    I detected no issues with the encode - no traces of alising, macroblocking, or crush. The only shortcomings of the transfer relate to the level of detail. Shot digitally with Red cameras, it tends to look too smooth on the whole (like its predecessor), lacking that "pop" of fine detail to really elevate it into the format's best offerings. In addition to this, while the movie certainly looks colourful, the colours are downright muted compared to the 4K presentation, which is bolstered by High Dynamic Range and Wide Colour Gamut. Contrast is a bit on the weak side, too - some scenes look too bright, wiping out some of the fine detail. Nevertheless, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 scrubs up very well in 1080p, and with the option of a 4K Blu-ray, everybody walks away happy.

    English and Russian subtitles are included.


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

Audio

    Although Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was mixed in Dolby Atmos, and said track is available on the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray edition, this Blu-ray "only" comes with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio mix, which is likely to disappoint devout audiofiles and Atmos fantatics while proving to be just fine to...everybody else. Nevertheless, this is a fine lossless track, and it's at least comforting to see a local disc not get the shaft again - Doctor Strange was released locally on Blu-ray with a lossy 5.1 track, but that appears to be a one-off blunder.

    Surround activity and panning is exceptional from start to finish. When the Sovereign drones attack the Guardians ship, blaster fire erupts from all surround channels, as do explosions and the sounds of ships zipping around. When Peter flies around during the climax, asking his comrades if they have any tape, each of his conversations come through a different speaker, making you feel as if Peter really is moving around. Ambience is used effectively throughout - during scenes set on Ego's planet, the channels are filled with subtle ambience to make the planet feel alive. Contrary to Disney's blunder with the limp audio mix on Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, sound effects are booming and effective throughout Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, thanks to marvellous subwoofer activity to accentuate each explosion and gunshot.

    Music - both Tyler Bates' original score, and the array of classic songs on the soundtrack - come through clearly, and never overwhelm other audio elements within any given scene. Dialogue remains front-centric for the most part, and there are no issues with the mixing of the dialogue - it's clear and easy to understand. There are no problems with clarity or encoding - no pops, clicks, sync issues, or any other glithces. It's smooth sailing across the board. No complaints from me.

    The disc also contains an English Descriptive Audio 2.0 track, as well as Russian and Kazakh Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes. (Contrary to the back cover, which advertises French and Spanish tracks.)

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

Extras

    Luckily, Disney provide more extras than were previously included on the first film's Blu-ray, but it's still not a patch on what we should be getting for a movie like this.

Visionary Intro (HD; 1:39)

    James Gunn sits down to introduce the movie, discussing the characters and his intentions with this story. Beware, however, that the intro is not in the special features section - it's an option when you select "Play Movie."

Bonus Round: The Making of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (HD)

    Here we have a four-part feature on the making of the movie. It's good value on the whole, but a couple more featurettes - perhaps on scripting and shooting - would have been appreciated.

Music Video (HD; 3:35)

    Oddly, this is included under "Featurettes." But anyway, here we have an insanely retro music video for "Guardians Inferno," an original song written for the end credits of the movie. David Hasselhoff sings the lyrics, and many of the primary actors appear in the background. Quality is poor by design, as this is meant to look like a relic of the '70s or '80s - it's even encoded in 1080i, and as a result there was severe interlacing on my display. Plus, it's presented in a 4x3 aspect ratio. But again, this is all part of the charm. You'll be hard-pressed to wipe the smirk off your face.

Gag Reel (HD; 3:41)

    No surprises here - this string of outtakes is pretty d*** funny. The star of the show is Steve Agee, who has a tiny role as a Ravagar named Gef, but clearly liked goofing around whenever the camera was on him. If nothing else, you should definitely watch this gag reel.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 5:04)

    There are four brief deleted and extended scenes here - "Adolescent Groot Extended," "Memorial to the War on Xandar," "Kraglin and Quill Talk Tunes" (which is more of an amusing outtake), and "Mantis and Drax Feel the Sadness Extended." These are worth watching, but it's clear why these were cut/trimmed down.

Audio Commentary

    Writer-director James Gunn sits down for a solo audio commentary track, recorded around the time of the movie's initial cinema release. Thankfully, this detailed track almost makes up for the lack of video extras. Much like with the first movie, Gunn is very chatty and has a lot of information to impart about the production, keeping the discussion scene-specific and often interesting. Gunn reveals that Vol. 2 actually takes place two months after the first movie, a decision which was made to allow for Baby Groot to feature in the proceedings. He also mentions his friend Steve Agee, who was actually meant to feature in a sixth end credits scene showing that he's alive after the Ravager slaughter. There is even a brief homage to North by Northwest, and Grandpa Quill (Gregg Henry) gets a cameo that I didn't notice until Gunn pointed it out. However, there are some spaces of dead air, and sometimes the director struggles with what to talk about. Overall, though, this track is worth listening to.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as I can tell, all editions worldwide appear to be identical in terms of supplemental material. Buy local.

Summary

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a summer blockbuster that manages to be exciting, touching and deep, though it's not exactly one for the uninitiated. It was a riot in the cinema, and it holds up at home. I'm not sure if Vol. 3 can top it, but count me in all the same.

    Disney's Blu-ray is terrific quality, with top-notch video and audio, and while I wish there were more extras, the special features on the disc are still worthwhile. Therefore, this disc comes highly recommended, especially for fans of the franchise.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSamsung UBD-K8500 4K HDR Blu-Ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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Comments (Add)
Important more as the first Disney and first Marvel UHD disc -