Bad Dog

Post Infinity War (and even considering Marvel films before that), Guardians of the Galaxy 3 is the best thing to come from this studio. Toss in DC’s efforts, and the answer is the same.

While overloaded with visual effects scenes, gobs of action, and other standard – nay, expected – material, Guardians 3 understands the core of any superhero saga are the characters. Guardians 3 has the benefit of existing on its own terms. Yes, it’s part of a wide-reaching, decades long narrative, but that’s the least important thing to this script. Taken on its own, this works. Those closely guarded storytelling connective tissues are loosened, allowing Guardians 3 to breathe in its own air, unpolluted by Thor or Ant-Man as those sub-franchises lose their way.

Guardians 3 is hysterically funny, lighthearted, and charming

It’s also not any one singular character, even if Guardians 3 remains close to Rocket Raccoon. The team aspect is inherent to this property, and the clashing personalities, cultural differences, and sheer otherworldly zaniness balance with the dramatic tonal shifts; that’s flawlessly done.

Guardians 3 is hysterically funny, lighthearted, and charming. It’s also serious and thematically impressive, setting the conflict against a pseudo-god called the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji, in a performance varying in such intensity as to be award worthy) who seeks to create a perfect world. Devoid of empathy, his cruelty in search of what’s already in front of him has no boundaries. That’s the pinnacle of evil for this Marvel squad, who exist and succeed purely because of their imperfections. The High Evolutionary seeks what the Guardians already have.

A villain is essential to this story. While most Marvel outings toss out a baddie seeking to end or control the world, High Evolutionary wants to completely start over. In doing so, he’s unable to see the joy the Guardians have, and that’s partly understandable – they bicker and argue ceaselessly. And yet, they’d do anything to help one another, which is infinitely more valuable than supposed “perfection” as seen through one man’s eyes.

In a few years, ask yourself to recall a single major effects sequence in Guardians 3. Almost certainly, the mind will be blank, because in that time, the brain will have processed hundreds more. But, then try to recall a character-defining moment or quote. Those will last. Those hold the impact. And importantly, those define Guardians 3 and make it great.


Pushing the HDR early, Guardians 3 makes an obvious impact. Neon lights and other such elements carry a spectacular, bright glow. The intensity ranks among Disney’s best, pumping up contrast and therefore depth. Black levels help keep this propped up, consistently rich and dense. From this pops generous color, veering from the usually flat Marvel palettes to a certain degree. It’s still not the color-rich spectacle it can be, but the space-born sights all show appealing saturation.

The 4K finish brings with it detail in droves, whether that’s the texture on perfect make-up in close or the galaxies as the team travels. The mild digital grain filter poses no challenge to the disc. Therefore, definition flows freely. Even the digital effects seamlessly integrate as if rendered at full 4K as well; there’s no visible downgrade despite the majority of Guardians 3 being effects-led. Note the switching aspect ratio as well, which is often seamless.


For one of the few times since Disney supported this disc format, Guardians 3 features a full, deep, and potent Dolby Atmos track. Bass begins immediately, rumbling the room and delivering a grandly scaled audio mix. Ship engines, guns, and punches never fail. Each delivers a satisfying burst, and the range remains exceptional throughout.

Equally impressive, Atmos effects factor in prominently, whether that’s a ship passing overhead or something as subtle as gravity boots tracking someone walking overhead. Action scenes flawlessly leap between channels, tossing any necessary motion in every direction. Surrounds activate at a consistent pace, and the killer soundtrack fills the soundstage whenever utilized. It’s about time the Marvel series got one right.


James Gunn provides a solo commentary for his film. Other bonuses include a wildly fun gag reel. Featurettes begin with basic bonus materials, the first that focuses on the characters over their three films. Rocket Racoon is then given his own piece that runs nine-minutes. Then, deleted scenes run eight minutes.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


It took a while, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 is the first Marvel effort since Infinity War to overcome the superhero humdrums.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 51 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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