Before relaunching a rival studio’s slate of comic book heroes, James Gunn delivers an exciting, emotionally wrenching, and entirely awesome conclusion to his own Marvel franchise with Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3. Now if you love the film in 3D, you have to fly off to (or import it) from Japan with a bit of a hefty price tag. The 3D is terrific with a splendid DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix to match and it comes packed with the 2D 4K UHD and 1080p Blu-ray as well! It’s pricy but if you love Blu-ray 3D, it might well be worth it for fellow three-dimensional addicts. Highly Recommended
I honestly have nothing much to add to Bryan’s review. I loved this movie. It’s the kind of show I’ve wanted to see from Marvel’s recent output but was only served up pale imitations. Outside of Shang-Chi, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and maybe a couple of the Disney+ shows, Marvel’s Phase Four was pretty mediocre with Phase Five off to a rough start with Ant-Man and Wasp in Quantumania. This movie gives a fitting conclusion to a number of the characters whose respective performers won’t be returning (or at least any time soon) while giving the franchise an emotional gut punch that left me weepy more than once. After three theatrical viewings and two more times at home, this film still hits and I love it.
Enough of my blithering, go read Bryan’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray 3D
Importing all the way from Japan, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 rescues 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and most importantly Blu-ray 3D with a three-disc 4K UHD, 2D Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D release. No digital option is included. The 4K disc is identical to the domestic release pressed on a Region Free BD-66. The 1080p 2D disc is a Region Free BD-50 but the menu structure is specifically set for Japan - so that means all of the bonus feature titles, and audio/subtitle setup menus and so forth are in Japanese - but still with English audio default so not that huge of an inconvenience. Likewise, the Blu-ray 3D disc is also a Region Free BD-50 disc that loads to Japanese menus in 3D, but again not difficult to navigate and figure out setup functions. English DTS-HD MA 7.1 is the default audio but Japanese subtitles are also default so you imperialist English speakers will need to turn those off in the main menu or on your remote during playback.
After the bitter early days of Thor and the rough but decent Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel movies have been highlights for post-conversion 3D transfers. Of the litany of great examples, James Gunn’s first two Guardians films stood out as the best of the best because of his clever use of the shifting IMAX to standard 2.39:1 aspect ratios. For the big vistas and action sequences, the screen blows up big allowing you to soak in the vast dimensional details but then tightens for the intimate personal moments - but then also has fun for that tighter aspect ratio. Throughout each 3-D release of the Guardians films Gunn would have an object float out of or breach the 2.39:1 black ratio bars giving the 3-D presentation a fun extra-dimensional punch that even the full IMAX ratio experience didn’t match. And that’s what we have here for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. Compared to the previous two films, this shifting aspect ratio 3-D experience is a bit more reserved but still finds fun ways to deliver some exciting visuals.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Much of the Blu-ray 3-D experience is the standard conversion “Window Into A World” sort with deep Z-axis depth with the screen being that window-like barrier. However, with those previously mentioned aspect ratio breaches, there are still some fun albeit subtle protrusion effects. As an example, the climactic “single-take” hallway fight scene. At IMAX 3-D that was seen in full ratio but like the 2D 4K and 2D 1080p, it’s tightened down to 2.39:1 - only in 3-D for various knives and organic bloody juices will breach the black bars for a fun protruding 3-D effect. The earlier films were a little more obvious with these instances, but even subtle they’re still a fun highlight and pop up in entertaining and unexpected ways.
4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Details for this edition are terrific throughout and colors are bright bold and vivid giving primaries plenty of attention. Likely to compensate for the glasses, this release is a tad brighter than what I saw with the included 4K (again identical to the domestic release) and the included 2D 1080p disc, but thankfully it’s not so bright to adversely affect blacks and shadows. Those scenes with Rocket and his batch of animal friends are still ominous and dark. In terms of best of the best overall, I’d still probably tip my hat to the 4K HDR10 transfer as the best experience, but I am an unashamed 3-D junky, and when and where possible I’m far more likely to pull the Blu-ray 3D disc out - so that alone was worth the import value in my opinion.
On the audio front, what we have here is the same DTS-HD MA 7.1 track from the 2D 1080p disc and it’s pretty damn good. For a title that got one of the best Disney Atmos tracks, this 7.1 mix is no slouch. It doesn’t quite have the same level of oomph as the Atmos but that’s a pretty mild complaint really. Rolling my receiver’s DTS Neural:X function gives this mix a little more heft and excitement where it counts. Dialog is clean and clear without issue. Between the excellent John Murphy score and Gunn’s precision usage of popular music and the active soundscape, there’s never a dull moment in this mix. After this disc and the Avatar releases, it finally feels like Disney is paying a little more attention to their sound quality and not completely gutting their Atmos or DTS tracks. Fingers crossed this trend continues.
All of the bonus features are on the included 2D 1080p disc and they’re all identical to what we got here stateside. The only difference of course is the menus are in Japanese but the audio is English so it all works out in the wash.
Thanks to the Japanese home video market, Disney films on Blu-ray 3D haven’t completely disappeared. It may be a pain in the backside and expensive to import, but for 3-D enthusiasts, it’s comforting to know you still have options for picking up your favorite films in the format you want to enjoy them. This is the case for James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy vol 3. I loved the film and saw it three times in theaters in 3-D so I had to have it that way on disc. It was an expensive addition to the collection, but I’m glad I put a bunch of gift cards to good use. The 3-D experience may be a bit on the subtle side but when and where it counts it really pops and comes to life complete with some fun ratio-breaking protrusion effects. With DTS 7.1 audio, the mix isn’t quite as dynamic as the 4K’s Atmost track, but it’s a beast all its own. With the 4K, 2D 1080p, and Blu-ray 3D disc all in one bunch, I’m glad I held out for this set. Highly Recommended for 3-D Junkies