Expendables 2 , The (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus re-joins the team for this second outing and hopes for a better result....
While on a rescue mission The Expendables cross paths with Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and when Jean has one of The Expendables killed, Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) swears to get revenge on the arms dealer that killed one of his men.
Heading into Bulgaria, on the trail of Vilain, The Expendables uncover a plot where their target intends to retrieve some refined Russian plutonium and sell it but when you are a target for the Expendables, don’t expect your plan to run smoothly.
Ahhh The Expendables. A growing franchise that would have been huge in the mid-nineties but given that the action heroes that lead the film aren't the megastars they once were, today the super group of a cast ends up delivering films that are more about nostalgia than genuine good times.
For both of these Expendables movies I’ve wanted to like them more than I actually did. I really like the fun the cast are having, Stallone and Statham work well together as do te faces around them. I like that they all continue to think Lundgren works as comic relief for the films and even though the majority of the team have nothing to do but show off in the action sequences, this is a team I think could really shine if the stories didn't get so bogged down in real world issues, such as mistreated villagers and weapons deals.
Very little really works here beyond feeling comfortable around familiar faces. Van Damme steals the show as he genuinely seems to still have the abilities he had back in the day and he’s a solid bad guy here (despite a total lack of screen time). Chuck Norris has a couple of moments that felt like a real celebration of the action legend and even though there’s more Schwarzenegger this time around, it’s still nowhere near enough for my liking.
Really, it’s only when Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger team up in the last fifteen minutes or so that Expendables 2 becomes genuine balls out fun for me. The long winded plot to get to the end was just a little too heavy handed but when our heroes start shooting and bad guys start dropping this sequel became a blast. Sure, Arnie and Bruce are taking this much less seriously than Stallone seems to be and their sort of amusing banter is more embarrassing than funny but in my heart of hearts, this is still a big event for my movie loving soul and just having these 80s heroes side by side with big ol’ guns still makes the kid in me grin. I just hope that if there is a third movie (supposedly there is with Jackie Chan on board too), they opt for a better plot, with more sizeable action and avoid these little, low budget 80s warfare type affairs. It just kills the potential fun you could have with this extremely likeable group of mercs I feel. Of course this would probably require a bigger budget too, which may not be forthcoming. I guess we'll just have to see how Arnie's much anticipated 2013 return effects these things.
I don't know if its a personal taste thing, or studios have just given up on DVD but I found this standard definition transfer to look pretty awful. The Expendables are gritty flicks, so that warrants a large amount of grain on screen but the digital noise here is really off putting. There are flashes of well lit, brighter scenes but the overall softness kills this presentation dead. There's just no real detail to anything and with a film that's made up of a lot of greys, dark blues and dirty greens, this just adds up to a murky looking affair in the hazy, smoke filled scenes this sequels loves playing in.
The super strong and often chaotic Dolby Digital 5.1 track here is a powerhouse of awesome. This track rocks the hell out all of its scenes, with machine gun fire, explosions and general disruption making good use of everything a decent surround sound system has to offer. Bassy, wide spread and just explosive stuff is thrown at you and even the dialogue feels pretty weighty too.
Everything here works, from Jet Li's tinging saucepan hits, to the pew pew bullets flying off of rumbling armoured cars. Yeah, sure it's sometimes a mess of sound but I'm fine with that, as with a cast like we have here I'd expect chaos and this sequel certainly brings it in the audio department, with a few extra thuds for good measure.
There are a ton of trailers opening the disc. Arnie's upcoming Last Stand (can't wait for this one), Silent Hill Revelation, The Possession, Tower Block, The Keith lemon Movie, The Tarantiono XX boxset and Texas Chainsaw 3D
The commentary with Simon West is a little undercooked and it's not just because you wish the cast were with him. He's a tad technical from time to time and likes bigging up his work (of which I have never been all that bothered with). He does okay for a solo track but he has a knack of talking about something in a scenes when you wish he'd talk about something else more exciting.
'Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Anti-Heroes' (21:20) is a nice tie in to the Avengers hype of 2012 and is actually a pretty well rounded making of. Stallone is very honest about the previous film and is very much trying to improve on things here and the rest of the cast really just love being there.
'On the Assault: The Real Life Weaponry of Expendables 2' (13:03) has Randy Couture shooting guns real guns and gives us little factoids about them along the way. Last up are some deleted scenes (4:26) and a gag reel (04:56).
Expendables 2 is better than Expendables 1 but still has a way to go in terms of finding the franchise's soul. Tonally this sequel is better but it still can't decide if it has something to say about the world or if it's just out to blow stuff up. At this stage, I'd love the third one to be this vastly likeable crew in a glossier looking movie with bigger explosions and a more going on in the middle act. These movies could be much more entraining if they opted for a more mid 90s punch than late 80s grit in my opinion but maybe its because I'm the guy who wants more Arnie and less Stallone, much like I did back in the day. Anyway, the DVD release looks pretty awful in the video department, rocks major ass in the audio department and offers just enough of the good stuff in the extras.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 10th December 2012
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Audio Description Service English
Extras: Commentary, Featurettes, Gag Reel, Deleted Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Simon West
Cast: Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Liam Hemsworth, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Scott Adkins, Terry Crews
Genre: Action and Adventure
Length: 98 minutes
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