Distributor: Disney / Buena Vista
Release Date:Dec. 9, 2014
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: 7.1 DTS-HDMA
The Movie: Marvel took a huge risk bringing a relatively unknown comic book property like Guardians of the Galaxy to the silver screen. It might not seem like it now, especially considering it being the highest grossing movie domestically (so far) this year, but it was doubtful to crack $60 million opening weekend. It not only passed that, but made a lot more, grossing more than $94 million in its opening weekend alone, proving that Marvel could release just about anything and people would go see it.
At first glance, this may look like a comic book movie, but at its core, it’s truly a space opera, a genre that’s been sorely missed around Hollywood. Guardians follows a true band of misfits, formed at a galactic prison after(surprise!) initially fighting. The team consists of Peter Quill(AKA Star Lord), Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot, a walking and talking tree. Sounds kind of odd, right? That’s what makes this film so utterly likable. No, they’re not your typical superheroes. Yes, they’re kind of forced into it. But each character is so likable on their own that it makes this movie one of the standout blockbusters of this year.
If you look at only the plot of this movie, it fails. It has a one-tone villain, cheesy cliches, and not a great flow. That’s why it’s so important that the main characters are likable, and they are. Peter Quill seems to be stuck in 80’s, mostly because that’s all he remembers of Earth. Gamora is a trained assassin who rebels against her adopted father, the big baddie Thanos. Drax the Destroyer is basically a psychopath on the hunt for revenge. Rocket and Groot are basically Han and Chewie, just a tad different. If these characters hadn’t been as interesting and funny as they were, then this movie would have been substantially worse.
For a comic book movie, Guardians sure has a lot of laugh-out-loud comedic moments. Now it’s not like the usual ones we see in superhero movies, where it’s based around over-the-top cheesy and campy characters. Instead, it’s more references to the 90’s or to one of the character’s little quirks. All of these moments in the film make it so memorable, so much so that you’re immediately tempted to watch it a second time.
Without director James Gunn, this would have been a completely different movie. The same can be said about any movie really, but this one especially. His style effectively blends the large space-set action scenes with the small character moments. The biggest weak aspect is the villain of the film, Ronan the Accuser. Like many of Marvel’s recent villains, his character is flat and not captivating at all, although Lee Pace certainly did the best he could with him. Villains have never really been Marvel’s strongest suit, nor should it be. Instead, this movie chose to focus on its eclectic group of characters, and it more than succeeded at that.
Picture and Audio Quality: Guardians arrives onto Blu-ray with mostly stunning picture quality. The film is often full of richly contrasted settings, which it actually benefits from a lot. The inky blacks and bright hues on all of the planets they visit blend seamlessly, creating a truly realistic experience. The transfer does have a bit of banding here and there, notably in the opening scene with the abduction of Peter, but otherwise is spectacular. The transfer really shines in the audio department though, like so many other Marvel movies. The sound design does a great job of transporting you to places like Knowhere or Xandar. At times it seems effortless, and really brings the whole film together.
Extras: While the Blu-ray release of Guardians does not receive a whole lot of extras, the ones that are included actually serve as a worthy companion to the film. Those worth noting include:
Exclusive Look at Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron: Worth the price of the Blu-ray alone, this new featurette offers an extensive look at Age of Ultron, teasing some new locations the film will be taking us as well a sneak peak at a very epic battle.
Gag Reel: Surprisingly very funny and entertaining, the gag reel from the movie shows us that they had just as much fun making the film as we did watching it. The only gripe I have with it is the inclusion of Groot and Rocket in several of the scenes, which kind of detracts from the otherwise great effort that went into creating this, making it feel like they are going out of their way to appease a younger audience when they really don’t have to.
Guide to the Galaxy with James Gunn: A terrific but sometimes jumbled short documentary where director James Gunn goes over almost every little detail and fact about the production that you probably wouldn’t have noticed while watching the film.
Overall Recommendation: Guardians offered one of the freshest and most exhilarating experiences in cinemas earlier this year, and it does quite the same on Blu-ray. Not only that, but the release also includes great special features and transfer quality, making it one of the must-own Blu-rays of the whole year.