Blu-ray Review

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is now available for your viewing pleasure on your Digital HD platform of choice, Blu-ray, DVD, and, for the first time for a Marvel Studios film, in 4K Ultra HD. I saw the film in theaters this summer and loved watching it again, this time on Blu-ray Disc.

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(© Marvel Studios)

In this sequel to the original 2014 film, Peter Quill/Star-Lord (played by Christ Pratt), Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana), Drax (played by Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) have some serious issues to deal with. Rocket has ticked off a group of high-powered (and gold plated) meanies known as “The Sovereign.” Dueling sisters Gamora and Nebula (played by Karen Gillan) are at it again. Yondu (played by Michael Rooker) and his team of Ravagers are back in the mix. And Peter Quill meets his long-lost father from outer space, Ego (played by Kurt Russell), along with his assistant Mantis (Pom Klementieff), who are about to make all of the Guardians’ lives, well, rather interesting.

The film is both a sci-fi/comic book extravaganza and a surprisingly touching character study that furthers the relationships between all of the Guardians characters. The CG-special effects are terrific and continue in the tradition of outstanding visual effects work in Marvel Studios’ films. The performances are also great, particularly Michael Rooker. Hats off to writer and director James Gunn for bringing the whole thing to life and for delivering an irreverent, entertaining, and satisfying sequel.

The special features on the Blu-ray are all fun (and may vary by retailer). This music video of one of the songs used in the film’s end credits is also a hoot.

The Blu-ray includes the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and looked great. The Blu-ray’s DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio mix was also terrific (and made me jealous of those watching it at home on a 4K TV since the 4K Ultra HD disc contains a Dolby Atmos audio mix; specifications are listed at the bottom of this post).

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 definitely earns its MPAA PG-13 rating for “sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content.”

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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(© Marvel Studios)

As an added bonus, the good folks at Marvel Studios sent over some cool concept art from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Check them out (all images © Marvel Studios).

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Specifications (Movie Only)

Product Offerings

Digital – 4K UHD with HDR (HDR-10 or Dolby Vision), HD, SD

Physical – Cinematic Universe 4K UHD Combo Pack (4K UHD with HDR, Blu-ray, Digital Copy), Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy), DVD and Exclusive Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack

On Demand – Available August 22, 2017; check with your local providers

Feature Run Time

Approx. 136 minutes

Rating

PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America

Aspect Ratio

2:39.1

Audio

4K Ultra HD (with Blu-ray) – Dolby Atmos (English); Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 (English, Spanish); Dolby Digital 5.1 (French); Descriptive Audio 2.0 (English)

4K Ultra HD (Digital HD) – Dolby Atmos (English; platform dependent); Dolby Digital 5.1 (English); Descriptive Audio 2.0 (English)

Blu-ray – DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (English); Descriptive Audio 2.0 (English); Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)

DVD – Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish); Descriptive Audio 2.0 (English)

Subtitles

4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray – English SDH, French, Spanish

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Classic Cinema

Farewell to The Great Movie Ride

Another attraction is biting the dust at Disney’s Hollywood Studios park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The Great Movie Ride presented by TCM closed permanently yesterday. It’s making way for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railcar.

The Great Movie Ride made me really happy. It’s a merger of two of my favorite things–a Disney theme park attraction and classic movies. Plus, it was housed inside the Disney theme park version of the world famous Chinese Theater (which still exists today on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, and is still one of the best places in the country to see a movie; in the context of this park, the Chinese Theater served as its symbolic castle).

I was able to score a ticket to a special farewell event for the attraction sponsored by the TCM Backlot and D23 fan clubs held on Saturday, August 12, 2017, one day before the attraction’s closure. They took us into the Disney’s Hollywood Studios park early in the morning before the park’s regular opening, gave us a walking tour of the entire attraction, and then gave us one final ride.

While this attraction was a bit long in the tooth, so to speak, it was grand, it was ambitious, it was one-of-a-kind, and it was all about the love of classic Hollywood movies. Needless to say, I loved the ride and will miss it.

Here are some photos from the farewell event I attended.

Disney hasn’t wasted any time. Today (August 14, 2017), these new signs were added at the Chinese Theater. (Photos from BlogMickey.com and wdwnt.com; used without permission.)

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Studio Ghibli Fest

“Kiki’s Delivery Service”

This month’s entry in GKIDS’ Studio Ghibli Fest 2017 was Hayao Miyazaki’s delightful 1989 film Kiki’s Delivery Service. Sadly, I missed seeing it on the big screen on July 24 due to a pesky summer cold so I had to do a Studio Ghibli Fest 2017 “Home Edition” and watch the film on DVD.


The story follows a teenage witch named Kiki and her cat Jiji. In the film’s mythos, when witches turn 13 years old, they leave home for a year, pick a new place to live, and learn to get by on their own. On Kiki’s 13th birthday, she leaves her loving family as planned and ends up picking the beautiful but unfriendly port city of Koriko. Kiki is plagued with adolescent insecurities and must find her way–both in figuring out what to do for a living (shockingly, she starts a delivery service) and in determining how she really feels about herself and her place in the world.

This is another breezy, beautiful fantasy film from Studio Ghibli, not unlike My Neighbor Totoro. However, Kiki’s dilemma about what to think about herself drives home an interesting and important truth. When Kiki doubts herself and feels confused and, dare I say, depressed, she loses her witch powers (which are primarily the ability to fly on a broom and to be able to speak with Jiji the cat). Kiki also has to cope with the challenges of living in a new city and dealing with a whole set of mean teenage girls and a gentleman caller, too. It’s not until, with the help of a kind mentor, she decides to believe in herself and what she is capable of when her powers start to return to her. This can be applied to all of us–the criticality of believing in our uniqueness and in our abilities, regardless of what others think, in order for us to do what we are meant to do.

Again, the trademark Studio Ghibli animation is stunningly beautiful. The music is also provided by Miyazaki favorite Joe Hisaishi and it’s terrific. Because I watched it at home, the DVD I have is the 1998 English dub which was overseen by John Lasseter and released by Walt Disney Home Entertainment. Kirsten Dunst voices Kiki and the late Phil Hartman voices Jiji (there was an “In Memory” title card dedicated to him during the end credits, so this clearly was one of Phil Harman’s final projects before his untimely death). This dub is terrific, although I would have much rather watched the sub version on the big screen.

GKIDS recently announced that they will be releasing new versions of most of the Studio Ghibli catalog in North America beginning this fall, so I am excited to start building up my Studio Ghibli collection, particularly with the original Japanese vocal tracks.

Revisiting Kiki’s Delivery Service was just what the doctor ordered. Here’s the tweet I sent out the night I watched the film.

Make sure to check out my friend Rachel Wagner’s podcast on her YouTube channel about Kiki’s Delivery Service. I hope to be able to join in for her upcoming Studio Ghibli Fest podcast in August which will be all about Castle in the Sky, next month’s Studio Ghibli Fest 2017 screening happening August 27 and 28. See the Fathom Events website for a list of participating theaters and to buy tickets.

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Other Things

100 Years of Ford Trucks

I've wanted a Ford F-150 truck for years. It was fun to read about the celebration that took place this week at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first Ford truck.

On July 27, 1917, the very first Ford truck rolled off the assembly line–the 1917 Ford Model TT.

The Ford F-Series truck was born after World War II. Here's a 1948 Ford F-1.

The F-1 was rebranded as the F-100 in 1953. The F-100 included more interior appointments (armrests, dome lighting, etc.) and a more aerodynamic design. Here's a 1953 F-100.

In 1975, Ford replaced the F-100 with the higher-capacity F-150 with the intent to combat the C/K trucks from rival General Motors. Here's a 1975 Ford F-150.

In 1977, the Ford F-Series truck pulled ahead in the sales race vs. General Motors and has been the best selling truck in America ever since. Ford's classic advertising slogan "Built Ford Tough" was also first used in 1977 and it is still in use today.

The F-150 has gone through a lot of design iterations. Here's a classic 1993 F-150.

Here's a beautiful 2004 F-150.

In 2015, Ford began using the auto industry’s first high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body in its F-150 trucks, making the trucks lighter and more capable (regardless of what Chevy says in their ads).

And here we are with the very latest model, the 2018 F-150. Yes, please!

Congratulations to Ford on this terrific milestone. Here's to another 100 years of Ford trucks.

All images © Ford Motor Company

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Movie Posters

“Avengers: Infinity War” Triptych from San Diego Comic-Con

San Diego Comic-Con wrapped up its annual four-day run yesterday. And while I didn't win the selection lottery again this year and, therefore, didn't get a pass to attend in person, it was fun to participate via the great variety of social media channels covering the annual pop culture fest.

Marvel Studios did not disappoint again this year with their huge Hall H presentation this past Saturday. Marvel released a cool poster triptych of their upcoming Avengers: Infinity War film created by Marvel Studios visual development artist Ryan Meinerding.

Here are the three separate pieces.

And here's the composite.

Avengers: Infinity War will be in theaters May 4, 2018.

Images © Marvel Studios

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