Expendables, The (UK - BD)
Our Marcus joins the Expendables but wants to join Arnie's team a lot more...
Sylvester Stallone leads the elite group of mercenaries, the Expendables, as they take up a job offer by the mysterious Mr Church (Bruce Willis). Heading to Latin America to take out a maniacal general, the team discover that the real man in charge is ex-CIA man Jason Munroe (Eric Roberts) and the Expendables mission goes from difficult to trouble—fast.
The Expendables felt like a breath of nostalgic air this summer with the idea of watching some of our old school action stars coming together to kick some baddies' asses and remind us how the eighties used to roll. It didn’t really feel like the story mattered, just seeing the combination of Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis and Arnie in a movie got its claws into the male population and The Expendables hit hard on the radar.
Watching the movie wasn’t exactly as feel good as I’d hoped though. I knew Arnie’s role was limited to a single scene, so the biggest disappointment was dealt with before going into the flick, but beside feeling good for Jason Statham, who gets to increase his ever growing action hero status while rubbing shoulders with some old school greats, and really feeling the awesomness of the Stallone/Lundgren reunion despite not considering myself much of a Rocky fan, all I really started to do was yearn to go back and rewatch the original eighties flicks.
I really liked the characters here. The Expendables as a crew were a blast to be around. I loved the inclusion of Mickey Rourke’s character and his relationship with Stallone and Statham really gelled fast, but everything outside of that i wasn’t that fussed with. The entire mad general/Eric Roberts stuff just felt paint by numbers and I got bored with it pretty quick. I’ve never really cared for Roberts in movies (well other than the original Best of the Best maybe) and the entire mission felt so dated and done before.
On top of that it dawned on me that this wasn’t really my collection of action stars. I was never a Stallone guy, my fondest memory of Rambo being the Rambo III game, Lundgren was all about Rocky and He-Man to me as a kid with his highlight being Universal Solider, Jet Li has never done that much for me and WWF/WWE means absolutely nothing to me, so that wipes out the wrestlers, and while I do like Terry Crews loads, it’s for Everybody Hates Chris above all else, so this isn’t exactly the role I’d want to see him in.
I just found myself wanting a real combination of the greats. Some high kicks and splits from Van Damme (who apparently turned it down), a bit of Jackie Chan, or even some Seagal. I would have loved to have seen more Bruce Willis and of course after the Arnie scene (which is one of the best feel-good moments of the year) I just couldn’t shake how much I miss Arnie on screen and how much better The Expendables (as well as all movies) would be with him back throwing the punches and dropping one liners on us out of nowhere.
All in all The Expendables kicked plenty of ass and it did well keeping it gritty and dirty like action movies used to be. Weirdly though, despite all the great moments, the movie as a whole left me wanting and I'm not sure the combination of these Expendables had enough to fill the gap.
The general look of The Expendables looks pretty great in HD. Well lit characters, murky backgrounds to make our action heroes glow, and a good level of detail to sell the many, many wrinkles on show on the cast’s faces. I wouldn’t necessarily say the image didn’t have room for improvement as odd elements felt a little lacking. There’s the odd soft shot and a handful of grainier moments but all of this adds to the grittier aspects of the old school action hero, so there’s little to complain about really.
The DTS-HD 7.1 track offers a solid experience with strong sound effects and a good balance between all the elements in the track. Outside of some of Stallone’s mumbles, the dialogue is a solid element in the track and the song choices on the soundtrack sound very strong in the track.
The bass has a hell of a presence when it needs to and sells every boom and bang with some real power and atmospheric elements, like echoes and bouncing shells all beef out the audio for the all-out action extravaganza we all hoped this would be.
Opening with the Nic Cage Grindhouse-esq Drive Angry trailer, we move onto the movie specific features with ‘Bonus View: The Expendables Ultimate Recon Mode’ which is somewhere in the middle ground between a commentary track, a picture-in-picture mode, along with a splattering of the Warner Bros. Maximum Movie Mode. The majority of it is the commentary but as the Stallone solo track is an easy and interesting listen, packed full of detail and all that combined with the added content along the way makes for a great way to re-watch the movie.
'From the Ashes: Post production Documentary' (26:36 HD) follows the same style of the Recon Mode and has Sly telling us the details intercut with on-set footage and some of his crew discussing the editing together of footage they managed to get filmed and then how the movie evolved after tests and early cuts. Once again there’s something about Stallone’s laid back presentation that made this more enjoyable than it probably should have been and with this being the only real extra on the disc (look out for more exclusive features on the Steel Book edition as well as even more on the US disc) this made for a good watch.
The Gag Reel (05:03 SD) is more goofy than funny and the single deleted scene (00:45 SD) is a Dolph joke that shows off his usual iffy acting. The Promo Gallery is made up of the theatrical trailer, the TV Spots and the Poster Gallery.
Lastly there’s BD Live (or Lionsgate Live as is the case here), a promo video for metamenus.com, options for D-Box, and BD Touch and the ability to add/view bookmarks.
With a disc that has solid A/V and an okay splattering of extras (but with lots more available elsewhere, so make sure you look around before you buy) The Expendables provides a good HD release where the wrinkles on the eighties stars' faces work well side by side with the modern action stars. The movie wasn’t quite the feel good ride I was hoping for, despite being loaded with just the right amount of booms, bangs and punches. More than anything though, The Expendables just made me want to rewatch some of the old action classics.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 13th December 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Extras: Bonus View: The Expendables Ultimate Recon Mode, Featurette, Gsg Reel, Deleted Scne, BD Live
Easter Egg: No
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Eric Roberts, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger
Length: 103 minutes
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