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The Expendables (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 first film in the series that landed upon us back in 2010.

Film 

The Expendables features an all-star action-packed legend cast including Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lungren and Terry Crews. Together, the elite team embarks on a mission to overthrow a Latin American dictator, but they soon discover a more formidable threat.

Sylvester Stallone’s team up was something of that playground urban legend we’d all talked about growing up in the 90s.  That he was working on a film that was going to bring himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis to the big screen in one movie together. You know, the big three, the Planet Hollywood trio. However, when the film actually came to fruition, schedules and such weren’t working out, other players were passing or not asked and it seemed Sly had to go on it now or risk never doing it. While Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren and Jet Li certainly fit the bill, other names in the cast were a little bit of head scratcher and while the premise brought excitement, it felt like the cast was going to be a not quite there half-baked effort. However, I’m an old codger, and Stallone was actually smart in reaching out to the MMA crowd, the WWE crowd and picking up Terry Crews (Even though he was more of a comedy figurehead at the time if you research). So, we’ll set the precedent here and maybe next time we’ll get what we wanted.

While the film contains some absolutely dreadful performances from its ensember (Couture, Li), that’s not what we’re here for. But, it does give some rather terrific chemistry between Jason Statham and Sylvester Stallone. In terms of meat and potatoes, old school pure action, the film delivers enough while not being incredibly innovative. Its a bit disappointing in some areas (The car chase), but in the one on one hand to hand combat as well as the overall explosive finale, the film really delivers. Its an action hero finale on steroids (Probably in more ways than we realize) with multiple heroes, multiple end battles and just a ton of stuff being shot and blowing up. Stallone reaches in his back pocket for a lot of his Rambo (the fourth movie) gore skills with The Expendables as well.

When I first saw the film back in 2010, I think part of my issue is that this wasn’t the film I wanted and was having a hard time judging what I was actually given. And honestly, the film is a little looser and is having more fun than I noticed it having before. The movie still reeks of being on its way to the ultimate action team up, but stops short of achieving that. However, as just a plain jane modern big pure action movie, its not the best, but its one of the better ones on a level of just delivering “the goods”.

Like I said, The Expendables is fine, it just leaves much to be desired because its “almost there” in terms of what you’d want from the expectations. Sucks for the film that its okay and can’t help shake that notion, but it is what it is. However, in terms of core action values, it delivers enough and really has the perfect run time, not getting caught up in just being long for length’s sake. The film works, but its just wetting the appetite for some bigger names to land and other bigger names to play a bigger role.

Video 

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail:  This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray upgrade for The Expendables is a solid uptick in terms of crafting more depth, sharpness and opening up a bit more detail.  However, it creates a little darker look and this film is very dark to begin with. CGI in the film becomes a bit more obvious with this as well, having this join the ranks of 4K films with very fake looking fire. While noticeable, its not entirely distracting.

Depth:  Depth work is a little bit more separated in terms of background/foreground relations. Skies have a nice pushed back feel with certain camera pans. In cockpit and driver’s seat rear blue-screen feels plenty separated and looks more obvious. Movements are smooth, cinematic and contain no jitter or blurring effect.

Black Levels:  Damn, this is a dark film, and a lot of the action takes place at night. This transfer does well by saturating it, but it still loses much detail just because of the nature of this beast. No crushing present in this viewing for the review.

Color Reproduction:  Aside from Mickey Rourke’s tattoo parlor or a neon sign on the outside of a building, the film doesn’t offer much to show of its HDR capabilities. Fire roars with some blasting orange and some reds and the like look bold on clothing, but nothing really lifts off the screen to make you wow’d by it.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural with a hint of warmth during that Latin America sequences, keeping solid throughout the film. Facial details have improved from the Blu-ray, more refined with the stubble, wrinkles, bruises and cuts and much more visible in further away shots than they were before.

Noise/Artifacts: Some film grain present that appears looking slightly like noise, but it isn’t. Primarily present in the rear projection/blue screen driving/flying sequences or just plan blue sky.

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:  And here we have the least expendable feature of this release, this rocking out Atmos track. This thing is LOUD! Whatever your normal volume setting it, this is going to roast it. Its a deep, bass-heavy track that puts you right in the action and has a very “ride-like” feel to the movie. Things pummel, explode or just plain drive around on a hog loudly. You’re sure to really be blown back and bouncing while watching this movie.

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 sub is gonna be worn out after this. Explosions, gun shots, mega big friggin gun blasts, planes, roaring engines, punches, kicks, crashes…and all of it done to the max.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Bullets, military men yelling, other fights going on, crumbling, and more span around the entire room and well thought out. Sound traveling is accurate to screen as well as the placement of character vocals and action in terms of distance.

Dialogue Reproduction: With how deep this track is and booming, sometimes when the dialogue comes back in it feels a little muffled behind it all, but its actually pretty normal and fine here with its clarity and performance overall.

Extras 

The Expendables 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 Sylvester Stallone

BONUSVIEW: The Expendables Ultimate Recon Mode

Comic-Con 2010 Panel (HD, 45:29) 

Inferno: The Making of The Expendables (HD, 1:31:42) 

From the Ashes: Post Production Documentary (HD, 26:36) 

Gag Reel (HD, 5:03) 

Deleted Scene (SD, :45) 

Marketing Archive 

  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:12) 
  • TV Spots (HD, :49) 
  • Poster Gallery

Summary 

In terms of just pure popcorn and explosions, The Expendables will get you there, but really makes you wish for better players or more iconic ones. That will come.  This 4K Ultra HD release is quite dark, never really having anything to show off in HDR, but tightening up the crispness, detail and depth. Audio-wise, holy shit, this one puts you right in the field of battle. Loud and proud. You also get to keep all the extras as the original Blu-ray is combo’d in here. If you’re a huge fan and needing a big upgrade of the audio, pick it up, but you can probably be just as fine with your Blu-ray.

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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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