Plot: What’s it about?
As the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to grow, so too are the ways in which to see it. A couple of years ago Disney’s streaming service (Disney+) gave us WandaVision, focusing on the lives of Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). As it turns out, it was modest hit and paved the way for other Disney+/Marvel series like She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Hawkeye and Loki just to name a few. The real allure to these series is that they don’t stand alone. They have bearing and impact on the feature-length MCU films. So while these aren’t “required viewing”, any true MCU fan would be remiss if they didn’t soak it all in. And Disney would love a chance to get some more of your money. And, so, now we’ve got The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. This was filmed at the same time as Guardians of the Galaxy III and they clearly had some fun with it.
Plot wise, there’s not a lot to discuss as this only runs 41 minutes. We meet the Guardians as they hear from Kraglin (Sean Gunn) about a time in Peter’s (Chris Pratt) youth. Yondu (Michael Rooker, but in animated form) destroyed the spirit of Christmas for our titular hero. The team feels for him. Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) take it upon themselves to do something about that. Their goal: to give Peter the gift he’s wanted for some time – Kevin Bacon as a present. The duo travel to Earth, manage to find and infiltrate Bacon’s residence and abduct him (with Mantis using her powers…that I had no idea she had). Bacon is delivered to Peter where he demands he be sent back to Earth, but after he (Bacon) hears of why he was kidnapped and the holiday spirit becomes strong with this one. We end with a song, sung by Kevin Bacon, and all is well.
As with most MCU movies and series, there is a fairly significant revelation, which I won’t mention here. It may or may not have ramifications in the MCU as a whole. I doubt it, but you never know. Look, this whole thing is pointless fun. It takes place between the events of Thor: Love and Thunder and Guardians of the Galaxy III if you need that as a point of reference. To me, the whole thing didn’t make much sense. I feel that they took a day or two off of shooting the movie and made this instead. And yes, all the characters are there though the only two characters who are really featured are Drax and Mantis (and Kevin Bacon if you want to go there). Take it with a grain of salt and you’ll have a good time. And if you don’t, it’s only 41 minutes out of your day. Bah Humbug.
Video: How’s it look?
If you’ve seen any of the Marvel series on Disney+ then you’ll know what to expect. Being a “holiday special”, we get plenty of twinkling lights, red and green colors abound (Drax’s “ugly” sweater, etc.) and detail is razor sharp. I’ll be the first to admit that Kevin Bacon has aged pretty well, though the crystal clear image gives us a look at his wrinkled skin and the like. Hey, it’ll happen to us all. The 1.78:1 image has great, solid contrast and all the usual caveats apply. Simply put, it looks pretty stellar. I was impressed and you will be as well.
Audio: How’s it sound?
My receiver listed this as a Dolby Atmos mix, so we’re going with that. Truthfully, though, this one really isn’t about the audio unless you count Kevin Bacon crooning to the ending credits. And if that’s the case, knock yourself out. Vocals are sharp, Dave Bautista’s Drax gets plenty of time to belt out his lines upon lines of dialogue (reminding me that with his character – less is more). There are a few ambient surround effects, but this isn’t really the point of the mix. It gets the job done, though there are Atmos tracks that blow this out of the water.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
This is a gift. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it’s one of those “Hey, this is nice.” things to have. While the gang is all here, this mainly focuses on two of the lesser-known Guardians, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its moments. Go in with an open mind and surely you’ll be entertained.