Great characters, great laughs and just a great deal of fun
What is it all about?
Avengers meets Star Wars for some Indy-flavoured full-throttle sci-fi-western-fantasy hi-jinks in the vein of Whedon’s Serenity.Kick-starting with a wonderful nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Guardians establishes its credentials early, and shows you exactly what they’re aiming for. There may well be some nice action sequences, and galaxy-far-far-away effects, but it’s the humour that drives the piece. Certainly if Whedon didn’t have a hand in the script for this, then Gunn should consider a side-career of ghost-writing for the Buffy creator; his trademark humour is stamped all over this piece, which could have easily been reworked as either a Serenity sequel or even a Hans Solo prequel – in some ways – both of which should be regarded as big complements.Introducing the world to all of the bigger players in the Marvel Universe must have looked like a walk in the park in comparison to what they had to do here, too, with a quintet of arguably the least well-known sub-characters in the comic universe all needing to be brought up to scratch and integrated within a 2-hour runtime. Yet Guardians absolutely nails it, not least thanks to the perfectly chosen cast, equal parts funny, goofy, heroic, dumb and sexy. And that’s just Groot. Pratt, Bautista, Saldana, Cooper – they’re all superb – and, even though the film is chock full of the now-obligatory giant-CG-space-battle-alien-invasion-war-end-of-the-level-thingy. Guardians does a standout job for an origins movie, and I can’t wait to see more from this motley crew of misfits.
Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray Picture QualityGuardians hits UK shores with a Region Free UK Blu-ray that promotes the movie with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
Detail is outstanding, with impressive facial observations highlighting fine object detail; skin textures and clothing designs popping with precise accentuation. The backgrounds come to life – whether real or CG-rendered – and are given the utmost clarity. There are no signs of any troubling digital anomalies, no artefacts, no overt banding and no blocking.
As you would only expect given the standards achieved by the past Avengers Phase 2 entries, this is a stunning, inherently demo-worthy presentation.
The colour scheme is broad and vibrant, bringing the very much comic universe to life with vivid futuristic aplomb; from the skin tones of key characters to the bright yellow of their prison garb; with plenty of primary action along the way. This is a proudly colourful feature, with strong black levels at the far end which allow for thoroughly impressive darker sequences which showcase strong shadow detail and no distracting signs of crush. Overall, it’s hard to fault this excellent presentation.
It should be noted that there is also a 2D/3D 2-disc version available which is worth noting not just because it offers the 3D version of the movie but also because the 3D version reportedly utilises the expanded IMAX footage in its variable aspect ratio presentation, whereas the 2D version does not use any IMAX expansion.
Blu-ray Sound Quality
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track does a spectacular job too, which is great news since the soundtrack to Guardians is perhaps one of the most important elements of the film.
Dialogue rises above the rest of the proceedings – despite the inherent chaos, explosions, gunfights and excellent score in the background – remaining clear and coherent throughout and dominating the fronts and centre channels where appropriate through the proceedings.
Effects are myriad, bringing us futuristic weapon blasts, starship engines, force fields and myriad other tech noises which create an authentic, immersive environment for the feature. Surrounds are used impressively, particularly during the more energetic confrontations, and the track boasts dynamic potential and insistent LFE usage throughout.
The score is easily one of the most important aspects, right from the get-go this is established, with plenty of diegetically-implemented song tracks during the course of the piece. Indeed I’d be surprised if fans of the film hadn’t at least considered picking up the various audio releases available because they work just as well outside of the movie – something which is still a relative rarity amongst film scores. Hard to fault, and so I’m not even going to bother trying, this is one of the best soundtracks of the year, and one of the best demo-worthy, reference-standard tracks we’ve had thus far too.
Blu-ray ExtrasThe single-disc edition of the movie doesn't sport any less extras than the 2-disc 3D version, but it also doesn't incorporate the IMAX-scale footage either into the 2D print. In terms of extras, we get a nice selection which covers all the bases - Commentary, Featurettes, extra footage, and a few Previews. The Director's Audio Commentary has James Gunn talking about his work on bringing this left-field comic series to life, and the task of both grounding it within the same universe as the other Marvel characters whilst also expanding it to another galaxy; there's a Guide to the Galaxy Making-of Featurette hosted by Gunn, and an effects Featurette called The Intergalactic Visual Effects of Guardians of the Galaxy; there's also a selection of 5 Deleted and Extended Scenes which are worth a watch; a funny little Gag Reel; and an Exclusive Look at Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Blu-ray VerdictIntroducing the world to all of the bigger players in the Marvel Universe must have looked like a walk in the park in comparison to what they had to do here, too, with a quintet of arguably the least well-known sub-characters in the comic universe all needing to be brought up to scratch and integrated within a 2-hour runtime. Yet Guardians absolutely nails it, and I can't wait for the sequel.
The most fun - and probably funniest - outing in Marvel's canon, Guardians, whilst apart from the rest, establishes itself as a worthy addition.
With impressive demo video presentation and outstanding reference audio, as well as a nice set of extras which are both engagingly humorous and informative, and which cover all the bases, this is a highly recommended release and a must-have entry in the Marvel canon.
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