Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

In a world of seemingly infinite crappy sequels, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is worthy of special praise for getting so much right. While delivering another dose of the irreverent humor and hybrid-fantasy action that made the first film so popular, it also cultivates the themes and plot lines so that the two volumes fit seamlessly, telling an epic story.

Not long after Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) revealed himself to be a meta-human thief turned savior of the galaxy, the mysterious Ego (Kurt Russell) appears to lend a helping hand to the freewheeling Guardians, who always seem to need it. He also drops some game-changing news on Peter, and a search for even more answers splits the team apart, even as self-righteous super-beings and vile pirates are closing in. It’s an adventure on a stupendous scale, but one held together by genuinely likable characters and a remarkably touching lesson about family. 2 is Disney’s first 4K disc, and it is an unqualified success. Director Peter Gunn’s visuals are incredibly ambitious, demanding a quality of special effects that wasn’t even possible a few years ago. This universe is so big, there’s so much to see, and it’s simply eye-popping in its clarity, with no issues such as noise or banding. The wide color gamut is in evidence, from stunning rainbow hues to a refined richness in the skintones. Lots of brilliant blue and white flashes of magical power exploit the high dynamic range, as does Yondu’s fiery red death dart zipping through the shadowy decks of his ship, dispatching all who oppose him. (The streaming version of this title, not included, is presented in Dolby Vision.)

This is also Disney’s first-ever title with Dolby Atmos audio, and while I was not able to audition the overhead surrounds, I can attest that the Dolby TrueHD multichannel mix at its core is one of the best tracks in years. Sprawling space battles display zip and zap, guns-blazing firefights are a hoot, explo- sions of every size jolt the home theater, and when an entire planet begins to crum- ble, we are right in the middle of it. The movie’s signature complement of pop songs is also cleverly woven into the sonic tapestry. (The included Blu-ray features DTS-HD Master Audio.)

There are no extras on the 4K platter, but the Blu-ray serves up extended scenes, a gag reel, an above-average making-of, a director commentary, and a trippily fun music video. The bundled Digital Copy code also unlocks accompanying bonus features.

Studio: Disney, 2017
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio Format: 7.1 TrueHD with Atmos
Length: 136 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista