GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 – Digital HD Review by John Strange
In this sequel to Guardians of the Galaxy, we open in Missouri on Earth in 1980 where we meet Peter Quill's (Chris Pratt) parents, Meredith Quill (Laura Haddock) and Ego (Kurt Russell). Special effects are used to make Mr. Russell look young (something I learned from the director's audio commentary available in the extras which come with the movie) making look much like he did back when he made the movie Used Cars!
Jump forward 34 years into the future to 2014 (actually only two months after the events from the first film)! The team has agreed to be heroes or at least not be Ravagers. Well, most of them have agreed to this ideal. On their mission to assist the Sovereign, Rocket does what they were warned over and over not to do. He steals some of the Anulax batteries they were hired to protect!
Before you know it the team is being pursued by their former employers giving us a wild chase that features a high-speed run through an asteroid field that doesn't save then. As they exit the field, the majority of the Sovereign ships converge on their ship and all looks hopeless until ALL of the attacking vessels are destroyed! Who is this guy riding on the outside of his egg-shaped ship that just saved them? Unwilling to stick around to find out, the team jumps for safety!
Unfortunately, the damage they took in the battle results in Star Lord and company crash landing on a distant planet. After the crash, the egg-shaped ship arrives and we meet their rescuer, none other the Peter's father, Ego! Ego convinces Peter to come home with him. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Drax (Dave Bautista) accompany him.
In the meantime, the Sovereign's leader, Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) hires Yondu's (Michael Rooker) band to capture the Guardians. Unlucky for the team, his band is tired of him being "nice" to the Guardians and a mutiny, led by (and I LOVE this name) Taserface (Chris Sullivan) results in Yondu's removal from command! This is facilitated by our blur friend, Nebula Karen Gillan) who literally shoots his control crest off his head before stunning Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper and acted prior to CGI affects being added by Sean Gunn – who also plays Kraglin, one of the Ravagers).
Thus sets up our heroes for the toughest challenges they have seen yet. Rocket and Groot (Vin Diesel) must work with Yondu to get free and go save the others. Gamora and Nebula must find a common ground in their disputes so they can truly be sisters for the first time ever. Peter and the team must figure out what is going on with Ego which sets up the biggest action scene in the entire film.
What I love about this film is the way James Gunn paired the songs from Mix Tape #2 with each major action scene throughout the film. His use of color is also phenomenal. Finally, his blend of CGI and practical effects give us a visual feel that is much more dynamic and realistic that using either one by itself.
But the real reason for buying a film in blu-ray/DVD or digital HD are the extras we receive. These extras allow the director and other key players to tell us how they made the scenes work. We see story boards and raw video and the same scenes with the effects added to give us a better idea of how they made the final product.
This film has a lot of extras that give us new ways to see some of the critical scenes and how they made them. The decision about which extra was my favorite piece turned out to be really difficult. The audio commentary by James Gunn is eye-opening (as I expected) but the 70's-era-styled music video was a riot! As you watch the video, look for the GOTG2 cast to appear in odd outfits and of course, the one and only David Hasselhoff! I had to watch it several times before I moved on to the next item on the list.
I loved watching this film on the big screen but the experience of blu-ray, DVD, and digital HD while different (even if, like me, you have a really big screen TV like I do) is also excellent. As I bring these films home, I relish learning the how-to's and even more important to me, the why's, behind many of the scenes we see. Normally I review these films from the blu-ray because I really enjoy having the physical disk. For this release I received four extras on the digital HD version that don't appear on the disks. Bonus indeed!
One additional note that I learned from watching the audio commentary. James Gunn does not mind stating right up front that he loves hiring his friends to play characters in his films. Throughout the commentary he is constantly pointing out his friends and talking about the great job these folks did! Michael Rooker is one of those friends! I also learned that Sean Gunn, who I really like as an actor, is James' brother! James even used his parents, kids, and in-laws! Take note of this, my filmmaker friends! It is OKAY to cast your family and friends! YES!
This review tells a lot of facts about this film. What I cannot give you is the shear visual wonder that is received as you watch it. How it's done is neat, what happens is cool but watching the finished product is a whole different beast. One I think you should each experience. Watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in your home on a big screen or a small screen. Either way, check it out. You'll have a great time!
Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, Sean Gunn
BONUS MATERIAL (may vary by retailer):
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.
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.
All the features listed above plus four extra exclusives:
Three Scene Breakdowns (Digital Exclusives) – We’ll reveal the anatomy of a few key scenes from the film. Discover the process in bringing these scenes to life. It starts with a doodle and the rest is film history. Audiences will be given the option to view 5-6 layers of specific scenes in the film. Scenes include “Eclector Escape,” “Gamora and Nebula,” and “Rocket and Ravagers.”
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! (Digital Exclusive) – Get an exclusive sneak peek inside the most anticipated ride at Disneyland, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout!. We’ll dig into the concepts and inspiration, and talk about what it took to bring the most epic ride at Disneyland to life.
Does not include any bonus materials.
1 (U.S. and Canada only)
Selig Rating Scale:
BRAND NEW: Should add to your DVD collection at any cost
SALE ITEM: Worth owning, but try to catch it a sale
SECOND HAND: Plan to get it, but wait to buy it used
RENTAL: Worth taking a look at, but not owning
COASTER: Pick it up at a garage sale and use it for drinks
PULL!: Makes a great Trap Shooting target