Plot: What’s it about?
You know, as I get older I realize one thing – time is relative. Yes, I know that’s not revolutionary, but it’s also true. Remembering things from 5, 6 or 7 years ago might as well be yesterday. And as I look back to the 80’s – well it doesn’t seem that long ago either. There were a lot of things that decade was known for an overindulgence was at the top of the list. If you’re thinking about films from that era, and more particularly action movies, I’m willing to bet that titles like The Terminator, Rambo, Die Hard and, yes, even Rocky would be among them. As is so happens, Sylvester Stallone has assembled a crew of these actors that helped make the “me” decade so hard to forget (or remember, depending on your point of view). And now, looking back nearly 7 years later, it’s high time I actually sat down and watched this. It’s inspired two sequels of its own, has a great cast (or a used to be great cast) and has more testosterone than any film in history. Yes, I can finally scratch this off my “need to see” list. Here we go…The Expendables.
We meet a mercenary team of Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Lee (Jason Statham) and Hale (Terry Crews) as they rescue some hostages from Somali pirates. They’re hired to go to a small South American country where a rogue CIA agent, James Munroe (Eric Roberts) has taken over a major drug cartel. Barney assembles his team and he and his merry group of men set out to accomplish their mission. Of course while there Barney has an epiphany in that he needs to “stand for something” and thus tries to help Sandra (Giselle Itie, one of the few females in the film), a local freedom fighter with ties to the dictator. Don’t feel too sorry for her, though, she’s got her own guns in the form of Paine (“Stone Cold” Steve Austin). And, well, yeah…that’s it. Lots of guns, killing and blood ensue. The end.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this movie. I figured that it would be a guilty pleasure and, truthfully, it was. But for all the wrong reasons. I assumed that since there were two more sequels that the first one really had something to it. In a way I was correct, but in a much different way I wasn’t. Yes, if you want to see what some of your favorite action heroes who aren’t Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone are up to – this is the perfect venue to do so. If you’re looking to be challenged intellectually, this is the wrong film. The actors here are better than the sum of their parts and while The Expendables has some memorable scenes, I can say that I was pretty let down. I’d wanted to think of it as Ocean’s Eleven with killing and guns, but that was reaching just a bit too high.
Video: How’s it look?
Having never seen the film before, admittedly my attention was drawn to the the Ultra HD/4K version of the film while the Blu-ray was left sitting in its case. But, for review purposes, I did watch some selected scenes so I could compare the two and see what, if any differences, existed. The overall picture, pardon the obvious pun, is that the film looks great on either format. There’s a bit of an uptick in picture quality with the 4K version and the HDR does give it a bit more range than its Blu-ray counterpart. Time has been good to some of these guys and not so good to others and it shows. Detail looks good and sharp, which might not be the best thing when looking at the faces of some of these guys. The movie is a bit darker than I’d have expected, but contrast is strong, black levels were smooth and consistent. It’s a nice-looking film, but if you’ve purchased this version, the 4K disc is the way to go.
Audio: How’s it sound?
While the included Blu-ray features a very robust DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, the next generation Dolby Atmos mix on the Ultra HD version is certainly the way to go. Like the video quality, there’s not a night and day difference between the two, but a few scenes do have a bit more “oomph” to them than the DTS track. As expected, there are plenty of opportunities for this sound mix to flex its muscle (take that literally) and all of your speakers will earn their keep with this one. Bullets whiz by, things blow up, people die and spread body parts everywhere – it’s really a thing of beauty listening to some of these effects. If ever there was a movie destined for Dolby Atmos, this one is (and should be) at the top of the list.
Supplements: What are the extras?
All of the supplemental features are included on the Blu-ray disc only, the 4K disc contains only the movie.
- Audio Commentary – Stallone, in my opinion, hasn’t ever been the most competent director, but this is his movie – make no doubt about it. It’s no wonder that his character is in nearly every scene and his that gets the most development. That said, the included audio commentary features a frightfully self-aware Stallone who’s actually pretty humorous throughout. He seems to embrace the film as it is and I think a little more of that would have made the movie a bit more enjoyable. It’s a nice inclusion.
- Ultimate Recon Mode – Similar to Warner’s “Maximum Movie Mode” this features bits of Stallone’s commentary played in picture-in-picture style with some features played.
- Comic Con 2010 Panel – The main players are on board at Comic Con to answer some questions about the film.
- Inferno: The Making of The Expendables – We get a pretty broad look at the history of the film as well as some candid comments by Stallone himself about the project, bringing the other actors on board and so forth.
- From the Ashes: Post Production – Mainly an editing featurette that shows a few key sequences and how they appear in the film.
- Gag Reel
- Deleted Scene – Dolph Lundgren in the opening sequence, which was cut from the final version. I find it odd that Dolph Lundgren has an IQ of 160. Yes, he really does.
- Marketing Archive – Theatrical Trailers, television spots and movie posters are seen here.
The Bottom Line
If guilty pleasures are your thing, then you should feel right at home. Yes, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, but there are plenty of others that don’t do that either and end up being entertaining. While The Expendables has some of those moments, they are few and far between. It’s nice to see that this has gotten the 4K treatment and it looks and sounds amazing. However that doesn’t mean a lot of you don’t enjoy what’s happening while watching. Die hard fans (again, pun fully intended) might want to upgrade, but with no new supplements it’s a stretch.