For his second Guardians of the Galaxy outing, writer/director James Gunn dials down the plot and ratchets up the banter and visual pyrotechnics. While the results are hardly the sci-fi/superhero equivalent of Raging Bull, they do add up to a mountain of stupid fun, with the returning cast (Chris Pratt, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel) – plus newcomers Kurt Russell, Pom Klementieff and Elizabeth Debicki – wise-cracking their way through a plotline encompassing family strife, living planets, deadly drones and vindictive space pirates.
Picture: Disney's 4K Blu-ray debut is a masterclass in how effective HDR and wide colour can be. Set-pieces such as the insane opening scene and firework-laden finale explode off the screen, delivering the widest range of colours and extreme dynamics you'll see on any home release.
This doesn't mean, though, that this HEVC 2.40:1 encode can't do subtle. Rich tones contain enough finesse to appear authentic rather than cartoonish, while natural landscapes and skin tones (even green ones) always look impeccably natural. Deep black levels underpin the experience.
Detail and sharpness impress, but perhaps to a lesser extent. It's still beautifully clean and crisp, though, and delivers a clear improvement over the accompanying HD Blu-ray. In fact, the 1080p encode feels almost depressingly dull and lifeless by comparison.
In an ideal world the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 4K release would support Dolby Vision as well as the HDR 10 standard, as it did in cinemas. But it's impossible to feel shortchanged by an Ultra HD picture that's destined to be considered AV demo fodder for years to come.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: The Dolby Atmos audio mix found exclusively on the 4K disc (TrueHD 7.1 for non-Atmos systems) is as much of a riot as its pictures. All channels are persistently and aggressively used for both general ambience and specific effects/transitions; bass levels are potent and deep without being intrusive; and the film's roster of pop classics has never sounded better.
As with previous Disney/Marvel titles, the 1080p platter sports a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: While most people will buy Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on 4K Blu-ray for the film and its peerless AV talents, it also comes with a decent suite of extras (even if they are all relegated to the accompanying Full HD Blu-ray).
James Gunn provides a chatty, self-effacing commentary track, and there's also fun to be had from a gag reel, four deleted/extended scenes, a four-part 40-minute Making of... documentary and a whacked-out music video featuring David Hasselhoff.
Extras rating: 3.5/5
We say: Spell-binding picture and sound make this a reference-grade release for a fun flick.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Walt Disney, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £35
HCC VERDICT: 4.5/5
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