Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Ultra HD Review

Ralph Potts reviews this sequel to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which picks up with the interstellar heroes fighting to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

95

Details:

Studio and Year: Disney – 2017
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 136 minutes
Genre:

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English/Spanish Dolby Digital 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper (voice), Vin Diesel (voice), Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Elizabeth Debicki, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Chris Sullivan, Sylvester Stallone
Written & Directed by: James Gunn
Music by: Tyler Bates
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: August 22, 2017

“Anyone Can Save the Galaxy Once…”



My Take:

Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, the film’s storyline continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.

Created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, the Guardians of the Galaxy were introduced in 1969 as a team of heroes in the 31st century—each member the last of his kind. The idea of creating a cinematic project from that concept had much going for it—not only a remarkable group of characters operating within an amazing universe, but also an opportunity to explore another side of the Marvel Universe, contemporaneous with The Avengers, maintaining the scope, action and humor, as well as a sense of the high stakes at its core, which made that film such a success.

As a kid, I read Marvel Comics almost exclusively (a little DC too), but never really heard of Guardians of the Galaxy. I saw the first film and absolutely loved it. Seeing the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 made me chuckle aloud and definitely left me feeling as though the potential realized in the first film was being brought to fruition. I took it in opening weekend with my family, and the reaction across the board was a resounding thumbs up. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 like its predecessor, is a perfect blend of tongue-in-cheek humor, engaging action, well-shaped characters and inventive energy.

The script expertly balances character development with thematic touchstones, clever dialog, spot on pacing and an entertaining blend of story/period music that sets the mood. As we’ve come to expect from a Marvel Studios film, the production elements from the special effects to the costumes/make-up are top notch. The returning members of the cast, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel, have found their sweet spot with these characters. I was very pleased to see Michael Rooker’s return as Yondu, one of my favorites from the first film. I also enjoyed seeing more of Karen Gillan’s “Nebula” and Sean Gunn’s “Kraglin”. The newcomers in Kurt Russell, Chris Sullivan, and Pom Klementieff, complimented the proceedings nicely.

Just like its predecessor, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a success in that it has the right ingredients to appeal not only to genre fans, but a broader audience base that can revel in its entertaining fusion. I enjoyed it even more this second time around, and look forward to seeing what lies in store for the next installment and its place in the Marvel Film Universe.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sequences of sci-fi and violence, language, and brief suggestive content.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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Dolby Atmos Rating: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

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Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Disney featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless that has an average bitrate of 70 Mbps, and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4Mbps.

For its presentation in Ultra HD it was rendered from an 8K source and finished on a 2K DI. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a fantasy/action based film that is essentially boldly colorful throughout, and this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. With a discernible increase in detail and emboldened chromatic highlights the image appears sharper and vibrant when compared to the 1080p version. Primary colors are pleasingly rich while whites appear gradational and punchy. The spectrum of secondary colors literally pop off of the screen. The opening sequence provides a glimpse of what it to come, but it’s the arrival on Ego’s planet that offers the bonus that the presentation’s wide color gamut has to offer. The combination of rich color, sepia, and gradational gray tones look stunning.

I also enjoyed the implementation of HDR. Primarily speaking this isn’t an overtly bright film. The added dimension in blacks, and shadows during the low-level scenes, such as those that take place aboard Yondu’s ship, or in the forest during the ambush sequence is immediately noticeable. The cinematography makes use of shadows, streaming light and a mix of light/dark elements. It’s application here is used very well, drawing upon HDR’s ability to create stark contrast between the two. In the aforementioned sequences, the blend of shadow detail/depth of field offset by the presence of light at varying levels, looked very natural, and when applied, brilliant light caused me to blink/squint in reaction to it.

The film has a variety of sequences that make use of close up camera angles that show off the superb rendering of detail. At times, the level of minutia is excellent, as even the finest nuance in the physical features, costumes and interior sets is resolvable. The exterior shots, and CGI featured in the film have superb depth which adds an enriching, and eye-catching aesthetic to them. The difference between viewing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in high definition and Ultra HD isn’t night and day, but there is no question that it benefitted from the increase in resolution, emboldened color and high dynamic range treatment. I was extremely pleased with this presentation and hope to see more like it.

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the moderately aggressive variety in terms of making use of the entire platform. It rarely engages when you wouldn’t expect it to but makes up for it when the action kicks in. Its use of audio objects placed above is less than expected, consisting of discretely placed pans, fills, and ambient extension. Don’t get me wrong, while I like the utilization of the overhead channels, and get a charge out of hearing sounds raining down from above, I also appreciate a well-crafted sound mix that draws me into the onscreen elements, regardless of where the sounds are emanating from. This Atmos mix does a terrific of achieving that as audio objects at ear level are spot on. The soundstage is appreciably broad as effects swirl, shift and whiz through the listening area.

The action based sequences, create an engaging level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. During the various action encounters the use of discretely placed objects is ramped up, placing you inside the action. While this mix may not make noteworthy use of audio objects from above, I literally had to get up on a chair and put my ear next to the speakers to ensure that the sounds I was hearing weren’t in fact coming from above.

This release marks Disney’s first foray into Ultra HD Blu-ray and Dolby Atmos immersive sound. Well, you can color me impressed…

Blu-ray Video:

Audio: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: 
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Video: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.8 Mbps.

This film essentially utilizes two distinct visual styles to convey its thematic content. One makes use of darker/monochromatic color schemes, while the other features richer contrast and vibrant colors emboldened by warm accents. Each provides the look that the filmmakers strove for to drive the narrative components. Close ups reveal crisp definition and perceptible detail that reveals the presence of pores, stubble, peach fuzzy hair and the minutia visible in the costumes and make-up worn by the members of the cast. The texture on the surfaces of objects is just as defining which give them visibly apparent structure and lifelike quality. Black levels are deep and contrast is spot on which delivers bright punchy whites and appreciable dimension when mixed light/dark elements are present onscreen. The video has a noticeably clean and pristine quality that appears devoid of video related anomalies and artifacts.

I had high expectations for this soundtrack on Blu-ray and this 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio/Dolby TrueHD (Atmos core) presentation didn’t disappoint, and bested what I heard in the theater. This lossless soundtrack is reference quality and is dynamically enriched which accents the active nature of the sound design. Dialogue has excellent presence with clear, defining vocal character and noteworthy room penetration. The mix makes involving use of the surround channels as multi-layered sound effects are appropriately placed within the soundfield so that they coincide with the events transpiring onscreen.

The active sound design utilizes the subwoofer to accentuate its already extended dynamic range. The action based sequences sound terrific, and feature a particularly nice low end. Essentially throughout the presentation the quality of the bass is first rate as it is fills the room with clean, hard hitting, and deep resonating low frequency detail. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with this terrific soundtrack. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on Blu-ray is demonstrative worthy and makes for a great home theater experience.

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Blu-ray
    • The Making of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” – A four-part, behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, done in the style of classic-rock album liner notes.
    • Visionary Intro – Director James Gunn provides context on how he continues and expands the storylines of these beloved characters in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
    • Guardians Inferno Music Video – Join David Hasselhoff and special guests for a galactic retro dance party.
    • Gag Reel – Laugh out loud at all the hilarious off-script shenanigans and bloopers that took place on the set of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” featuring all your favorite Guardians.
    • Four Deleted Scenes – Check out four specific scenes that had to be cut from the film, including two extended scenes and two deleted scenes.
    • Audio Commentary – Check out a special narration of the film by director James Gunn, who guides fans through an inside look at the making of the movie.
  • Digital HD Copy

Final Thoughts:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 is a successful follow-up that makes for an entertaining installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It comes to Blu-ray in the Ultra HD Combo Pack from Disney featuring top notch Ultra HD video, engaging lossless surround sound, including a terrific Dolby Atmos immersive listening experience and a fair supplemental package that looks behind the scenes. I am a fan and can’t recommend Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 on Blu-ray, in the highest form your system will allow, enough. Enjoy!

Ralph Potts
online-shashki Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package