Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (3D 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 135:47
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
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 $39.95 Music Tyler Bates


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
German DTS HD High Resolution Audio 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
French DTS HD High Resolution Audio 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 for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Dutch
German
Italian
French
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

    Despite the ostensible death of 3D at home, Disney have chosen to debut Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on 3D Blu-ray, and it's a stunner. Even better, this MVC-encoded three-dimensional presentation is the only release of the movie on home video to contain the IMAX sequences, which are opened up to the IMAX aspect ratio of 1.90:1. The Captain America: Civil War 3D Blu-ray offered the airport sequence with an expanded aspect ratio, thus taking up more of the television screen, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 follows this precedent. And whereas Civil War only contained one such sequence, there are many more 1.90:1 scenes peppered throughout Vol. 2, even if it's only for a few shots to take advantage of the enhanced frame, which is a joy. (A fair chunk of the climax is opened up to 1.90:1 to amazing effect.) The 3D presentation thankfully gets the entire disc to itself (there are no extras on the disc), maximising the bitrate for the best possible transfer quality. The result is a knockout, one of the format's new reference discs.

    The opening action sequence pitting the Guardians against an enormous tentacled monster shows the amazing conversion straight out of the gate, and it's one of the IMAX sequences, so it fills more of the screen, providing an insane level of immersion. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was converted to 3D in post-production, but it's likely that the CGI elements and compositions were natively rendered in 3D, which certainly helps the quality of the presentation. Depth is consistently staggering, with characters and aliens appearing at different depths and always looking wholly three-dimensional, with no "pop-up book" effect. One of the most amazing 3D shots in the movie, and perhaps one of the most amazing I've ever seen, is Baby Groot looking through the window of the ship as it leaves the Sovereign planet; the separation is mind-blowing. Similar shots show up throughout the movie whenever the camera peers through the glass of a cockpit. It's jaw-dropping, demo material stuff. And when Yondu launches his arrow towards several enemies, it looks to be emerging from the television.

    In long shots of vast ships, each nook and cranny is visible. The depths of space appear to stretch out deep into your television, making you feel as if you're looking through a window. When Gamora sits alone at the 74-minute mark, the vast fields of Ego's planet appear to stretch on endlessly. Whenever characters talk to one another, they appear to exist at different depths. The climactic action sequence set deep inside Ego's planet is a stunning display of 3D's capabilities - see Groot wandering through the narrow tunnels, or the slow-motion shot of Peter firing at the approaching Sovereign ships. No matter the environment, the transfer consistently wows, which is precisely what you would expect from an expensive summer blockbuster. Sometimes the visuals actually extend beyond the limits of the frame, as well - see the funeral scene at the end. However, strangely, though the first end-credits scene is 3D, the subsequent four credits scenes are only in 2D. I did not see the movie in 3D at the cinema, so I cannot be certain if it's a fault of the Blu-ray or a source-related thing - maybe these scenes were never converted. Anyway, this is the only drawback of an otherwise excellent 3D presentation.

    Despite the dimness associated with the 3D glasses, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 still looks vibrant and bold in three dimensions. It may not have all the "pop" of the HDR-enhanced 4K Ultra HD edition, but it still looks d*** good in its own right, and there is a lot of detail on display thanks to excellently-judged contrast. Faces look richly-textured, as do clothing - such as Peter's leather jacket. In terms of the encoding, I did notice a bit of shimmering here and there, but that's about it - there was no aliasing, ghosting or macroblocking on my display at all. As much as I do love the 4K edition, I will more than likely grab the 3D Blu-ray every time I plan to do a rewatch in the future. The 3D effects consistently enhance the movie and its visuals. If you're 3D-compatible and enjoy the movie, this disc is a must-buy.

    Multiple subtitle options are available. I had no issues with the English-language track.


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 3D 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.

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

Extras

    The 3D disc itself contains no supplemental material to speak of, presumably to maximise the bitrate for the movie. However, if you pick up the combo pack with the 2D disc, you'll find the supplemental material over there.

R4 vs R1

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

    All discs worldwide appear to be identical, aside from differing language options. 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 have delivered a knockout 3D Blu-ray; the conversion is stunning, and the encode is close to flawless. It was a joy to watch on my 4K OLED screen. Audio is first-rate as well, and there is a good supply of extras if you pick up the combo pack with the 2D disc. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Friday, November 03, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDLG UP970 4K UHD 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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