IAR Blu-ray Preview: 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

Monday, 08 December 2014 14:11 Written by  iamrogue
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IAR Blu-ray Preview: 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

Slap on your headphones and strap in, because you're about to trip the light galactic.

Guardians of the Galaxy hits Blu-ray this week, so it's time to ride shotgun on the Milano with the legendary Star-Lord at the wheel.

There's an episode of 30 Rock in which Tracy Jordan declares that he's going to make Jack Donaghy a mixtape.  "You like Phil Collins?" Jordan asks Jack.  "I've got two ears and a heart, don't I?" Jack replies.

Guardians of the Galaxy is like Phil Collins in movie form.  If you've got two eyes, two ears, and a sense of humor, you probably saw and already love Marvel's latest blockbuster. 

It was one of IAR's Potential Gems of 2014 almost a year ago, yet still managed to exceed our expectations.  It's basically the movie of the year, earning a kajillion dollars (currently the biggest domestic release of 2014) and capturing the zeitgeist with its rollicking mixture of derring-do, smartass quippiness, a killer soundtrack, imaginative scifi visuals, straight-up weirdness, genuine heart, and roundly spirited performances.

As Peter Quill, Chris Pratt goes from Parks and Recreation MVP to for-realsies movie star, while Zoe Saldana establishes beyond the shadow of a doubt that she's the best ass-kicking alien around as Gamora, and Dave Bautista is nothing short of revelatory as the deadpan Drax the Destroyer.  Bradley Cooper gives Rocket Raccoon just the right blend of cartoonish, calloused, and cute.  And don't forget Vin Diesel, who gets an astonishing amount of emotional range out of the same three words.

This Tuesday, December 9th, you can ring the whole gang home in a shrink-wrapped plastic package.

Guardians of the Galaxy has been available to purchase or rent online for a while now, but Blu-ray is truly the best way to experience the strange cinematic brew director James Gunn has concocted here.

Obviously, there's the visual presentation.  Why would you want to watch Guardians without the sharpest textures, the lushest colors, and the most abundant details?  Environs like Knowhere (the head of a dead celestial titan whose grey matter is mined as it floats through space), the Kyln (a space-prison), and Xandar (sunny home of the Nova Corps) deserve to be seen in a gorgeous 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer. 

What's more, the 3D Blu-ray takes advantage of sequences designed for IMAX, cleverly shifting the 2.40:1 aspect ratio for certain shots in order to create 3D effects beyond the frame itself.

Then there's the sound.  This is a movie with a whole library of clever and evocative sound design fleshing out the onscreen world-building, from the roar of the Milano's engines to the click-clacking of Rocket's heavy duty-weaponry to the raw power of the orb that's the big MacGuffin.  And there's a score from Tyler Bates that hits all the right beats.  But the most noticeable is simply the soundtrack, that awesome collection of oldies Quill listens to on his old Walkman.  Combining familiar pop standbys with unearthly space opera spectacle makes both feel fresh and new in Guardians of the Galaxy

Blu-ray presents the soundtrack with a showcase-quality 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track that balances bombast and sweet, sweet melodies.

On 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and Digital HD combo pack, Guardians of the Galaxy comes fully kitted out with more special features than you could shake a space-stick at.

Deleted scenes aplenty, for example.  Take this one, which adds some detail and a drop of depth to the relationship between adopted siblings Gamora and Nebula (Karen Gillan):

"The truth is we had tons of stuff in the first act on the Dark Aster for too long," Gunn explained at a Disney event promoting the Blu-ray. "It does provide information, but it made the movie move slower so we ended up cutting it."

If you appreciate those kinds of insights from a loquacious, unfailingly entertaining filmmaker, then Gunn's feature commentary is worth the price of purchase all on its own.

And if you're not into the filmmaking nitty-gritty, then there's still plenty to enjoy.  An absolutely outstanding gag reel that showcases the humor and warmth of the cast while also underlining just how complex and surreal these Marvel mega-productions are.  How about a taste of the outtakes on offer, a clip that depicts what would've happened if Ronan (Lee Pace) and Gamora were down to participate in Star-Lord's climactic dance-off:

There's also an eight-minute behind the scenes featurette on the film's visual effects, with particular attention paid to creating Rocket and Groot.

In many ways, the centerpiece feature is a twenty-minute look at the making of Guardians of the Galaxy replete with delightful 8-bit animations and a plethora of insights into the execution of Gunn and Marvel's one-of-a-kind space adventure.

And for all the Marvel maniacs out there, Guardians of the Galaxy on Blu-ray also offers up a sneak peek at Avengers: Age of Ultron via a video tease that shows off some of the new locations and cast in the sequel.

So do yourself a favor: hang out with the Guardians of the Galaxy on Blu this week.  You're welcome.

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