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The Expendables 2 (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Sylvester Stallone’s all action heroes all the time series The Expendables will be complete now on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with Lionsgate’s releasing of the first two films come May 2nd.  Both are seeing just a picture and audio update on the films themselves as no new bonus features are being added to these new editions. As a matter of fact, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc contains no supplemental features. But, each release comes with the standard Blu-ray release of the theatrical version of the film and with that comes all of its bonus material (Including a full Comic Con panel and feature length documentary on making the film).  Be sure to pre-order yourself a copy today to ensure you have both of these muscle-heavy films on May 2nd. This review will be covering the 2012 sequel that brought in Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris to the world of Barney Ross.

Film 

The crew returns with a vengeance in the film’s sequel, The Expendables 2. Action icons Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger join the franchise. In this second chapter, the team accepts a seemingly simple mission, but it soon evolves into a quest for revenge against a rival mercenary who threatens the world with a deadly weapon.

Now THIS is what I wanted the previous time out. Simon West delivers a much more fun, not as serious affair that still brings intense and brutal action to the forefront.  Stallone also manages to nab better icons in his film to join in on the fun, while getting more out of the other two of the big three than before. The Expendables 2 delivers a better love letter to these movies as well as bringing out some surprises, better stakes and a more involving story for the viewer than last time.

While Arnold Schwarezenegger and Bruce Willis return with a little bit bigger roles and get involved in the action proceedings this time, they aren’t the significant additions.  Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris absolutely steal this show. Van Damme is quite the menace as the villain and really chews up every scene he has and shows he’s still got it in terms of his martial arts ability.  Chuck Norris has just a couple scenes, but he brings in a lot of the humor in good spots for the film.  Also, newcomer Nan Yu holds her own in the film as well.

What I enjoy about this film is that it adds a bit of “dumb” to the film that the first film felt afraid to do or came off as taking itself too seriously without.  Some of the more poor performances translate much better with the silliness and conry one-liners that really don’t land or make you want to roll your eyes.  Plus, everyone looks like they are having fun when they are blasting away nameless bad guys like it was the old days. Its the kind of stuff we all wanted with the first one, and thankfully we made it to the second one to get it.

The Expendables 2 IS indeed the closest thing to the film I (And I’m sure many others) wanted the first time out. Its much more loose, fun and carries more true iconic pure action stars of the 80s and 90s hey dey. The film doesn’t take itself as seriously as the first one, making it a bit sillier, but that’s very welcome. Also the action tops the previous as well, and delivers in a modern sense. While its not the best, I’d definitely put it in the upper tier in terms of action film of this decade.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  Helping the second Expendables movie in its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray debut more than the first film is that this one mostly takes place during the day time. Also, they have real explosions in this. This features a much more detailed (You can see plenty of dirt and a film on the windshield of the plane), full look than its predecessor, though still dark and murky at times, its a much more pleasant looking image that feels more well round, crisper and sharper. It also has the appearance of grain in the image as well, more noticeably on the sky or where you can see the sky through the windows.

Depth:  The film feels much more spaced and separated confidently in character and background relations. Characters move smoothly with no blur or jittery no matter how crazy the action gets. Some of the forest and other exterior sequences come on with more three dimensional zest. No, it doesn’t look wow’ing like some others, but its a nice improvement over its home video predecessor.

Black Levels:  Blacks are plenty abundant in this picture and they are pretty well saturated in their deep look. Some detail still gets hidden, though with how dark some sequences can get, it might’ve never been an option. No crushing witnessed during this review.

Color Reproduction:  The biggest improvement to this image is right here in color…just in the fact that there is some! Little lights on gun lasers, suped up binoculars, cigarette cherries and car lights at a distance all have a neat glow. The film features a rich take on blues with all variations coming on strong. The red paint on the plane is a pretty good standout.  Also, earthy looking tones on the ground come on really rich. Oh, and the all star is the roaring orange fire that you can almost feel the heat from (also coming from the gunfire).

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent through out. They are much more flush and bold in this film than the first one. Facial details can easily be made out at most of the reasonable distances.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English 2.0 Optimized for Late Night Viewing, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  The Expendables 2 continues the rocking, pulsating, explosive Atmos presentation the first film had.  Once again its very heavy on the bass in a welcomed fashion, pumping your room full of complete muscle and adrenaline. If you’re wanting to crank up and show off ridiculous action scenes to test your home theater or show off to your friends, pick an action sequence and run with it.

Height: The film has been remastered to include some bullets whizzing, explosions, debris and other things flying by overhead while also adding to the ambiance of environments.

Low Frequency Extension:  Your subwoofer is everything to this movie. Tanks, big trucks and plane engines roar through. Of course, guns cannon their way to go with all the explosions and crashing debris. Van Damme kicks like a motherf***er and when he kicks a knife into a character’s chest in pounds.

Surround Sound Presentation:  You want in the middle of the action? You got it. This track full realizes all channels and gives you a crazy engaging 360 degree experience. Bullets go everywhere, debris falls to your side, behind, whereever it actually would be in relation to the previous shot or scene. Movement and volume placement winds up very accurate as well.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is really crisp with all points of diction and mouth sounds coming on quite clear.

Extras 

The Expendables 2 comes with the Blu-ray edition and an UltraViolet digital copy.  All bonus materials are featured on the standard Blu-ray disc.  No new bonus features have been added as the Blu-ray disc is the same as the previous release for the theatrical edition.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Simon West

Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Anti-Heroes (HD; 21:19)

Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980’s and the Rise of the Action Film (HD 24:59)

On the Assault: The Real Life Weaponry of The Expendables 2 (HD; 13:36)

Guns for Hire: the Real Life Expendables (HD; 24:19)

Deleted Scenes (HD; 4:39)

Gag Reel (HD; 5:09)

Summary 

While The Expendables franchise gets out-Expendable’d by the Fast & Furious franchise, this second film holds its own pretty well and is very enjoyable and closest to what you’d want out of the idea. Its 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation carries that same kick ass audio the first had, but definitely has a prettier much more HDR friendly picture this time around. Extras, like before, are the same as the standard Blu-ray release. If you’re going to own one Expendables movie in 4K Ultra HD, make it this one!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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