‘Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2’ Makes Impressive 4K UHD Debut

The guys, Gamora, Groot and the “trash panda” I would invite to an intergalactic kegger have made their arrival to Blu-ray. More importantly, however, the second installment in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise has the great distinction of being Disney’s first 4K Ultra High Density (UHD) release. That’s right, as the other major studios made the leap to the format, Disney remained on the sidelines waiting for the right moment. One would think the moment would have come with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Nope.

As the studio’s first 4K UHD title, Disney has pretty much hit a home run. Not only does the first big summer hit of 2017 get stellar treatment in terms of audio and visual presentation, there are enough extras to make you laugh many times over.

But let’s start with the movie, shall we?

Unlike the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), writer/director James Gunn (Slither) pretty much gets to do his own thing without having to worry about what Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Thor, and Bruce Banner are doing back on Earth. Guardians of the Galaxy was its own entity where a bunch of reprobates through a series of events fight, bicker, and come together to, well, save the galaxy. By the end of the film, around the time The Fivesteps were singing about how things are going to get easier, Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord, aka Chris Pratt), Drax (Dave Bautista), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), were ready to start a new adventure and cause some trouble. The joyride they take in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not quite a magic carpet ride, but going up or down “Lake Shore Drive” is a nice feeling.

Rarely do we see a filmmaker catch lightning in a bottle twice, especially when dealing with sequels/franchises, but Gunn makes the second volume work on account of the primary focus: family. Audiences will laugh at Rocket’s wink-wink remarks (using his wrong eye), Groot’s signature phrase “I am Groot,” and Drax’s deadpan humor; marvel at the comic action; and enjoy some classic rock tunes along the way. All are great staples about the movies, especially the music, yet Guardians will forever be about the characters and the family dynamic. Vol. 2 has the same jovial spirit even if it may not as great narratively as the original.

When Rocket takes it upon himself to steal some of the batteries they were hired to protect, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), leader of the Sovereign People, gives chase. The Guardians may have two of the best pilots in the galaxy but when Star-Lord and Rocket try to one-up the other their ship crashes on Planet Berhert. Ayesha hires Yondu (Michael Rooker) to track the Guardians and in the process our heroes meet Ego (Kurt Russell), a man who holds a great secret.

Insanely over-the-top action, comic moments that play out longer than they should (Groot trying to locate Yondu’s “Magical Mohawk”), intimate character moments getting revealed for laughs, yeah Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 has all of this and it moves at a decent clip thanks to its lifeblood, the soundtrack. Music is such a crucial component in movies that it is easily overlooked by those concentrating on the visuals. James Gunn picks songs that have strong connections and just for a catchy beat or chorus. Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” is a prime example in a climatic scene with Star-Lord and Ego. Even as new characters are introduced and the story intensifies with revelations and shenanigans, the bonds of family still remain. Our heroes may bicker, cause mischief and mayhem, yet its heart is always in the right place.

Lively and fresh, GotGV2 is a visual smorgasbord. More colorful than a box of crayons, the effects do not supersede or become the primary focus. They are complimentary parts to the story and look stunning in 4K.

Below are some of the photos I took from the film in my personal home theater.

There is some discrepancy on if the disc itself has Dolby Vision, which may mean a future release down the road with the color enhancement. The obvious benefits of Guardians Vol. 2 in 4K is the color depth. Drax’s skin textures and Groot’s gnarled tree body are incredible. As is Yondu’s blue skin. At first I wasn’t sold on the presentation until I started reading that others were having some visual inconsistencies with viewing the film in 4K. After changing some projector settings the image looks amazing. The black levels remain strong. A great start for Disney. I can only imagine how they will push the limits for its upcoming slate of films.

Sporting a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, the presentation is rich and robust. One highlight includes the Soverign ships chasing the Guardians through an asteroid belt, and Rocket and Yondu staging an escape. While overhead speakers are rarely incorporated, you still get some strong sound depth of field with location-specific sounds. Another win for Disney.

Now with the UHD disc you get no supplements. Those are regulated to the Blu-ray and DVD releases. Inside the keepcase is a small bonus poster. Here is a quick listing of the extras as found on the Blu-ray.

Visionary Intro: Director James Gunn briefly discusses the film’s story and how he expands the franchise.

The Making of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (1080p): A four-part feature that runs 37 minutes that covers the music in the series, the visual effects, the cast, and lastly Gunn talking about the original’s success and his love for the cast and vice versa.

Music Video: “Guardians Inferno” by The Sneepers Ft. David Hasselhoff. Great video with a retro vibe and cameos by the stars.

Gag Reel: Nearly four minutes of on-set flubs.

Deleted Scenes: “Adolescent Groot Extended”, “Memorial to the War on Xandar”, “Kraglin and Quill Talk Tunes”, and “Mantis and Drax Feel the Sadness Extended”.

Audio Commentary: More with writer/director James Gunn (you would think he was Ego) as he covers the minutiae of the movie in greater detail.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was a blast in theaters and it is an even bigger blast revisiting the box office smash on home video. Great characters, crunchy tunes, and an incredible A/V presentation to say the least, Disney’s UHD debut is easily one of the top releases of the format this year. If you are a 4K adopter, go and pick this up!

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