Now before I start this review, it’s not a secret that I am a MASSIVE fan of the first movie, I am a huge 80’s Action movie fan, I saw this movie twice at the cinema, and didn’t get the chance to go a third time so when I received the Blu-Ray to review, to say I was excited would be a big understatement. I will say now that I will find it hard to be critical about the film itself and my opinion will differ to those of the typical ‘movie critic’.
Sly is back and heads up one of the greatest ever action cast, including Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture and with Liam Hemsworth, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins and Chuck Norris.
Barney’s team of mercenaries are back for war. When what should have been an easy paycheck results in one of their own being killed, they are hell bent on avenging their fallen brother. Their personal mission brings them face to face with a lethal adversary who could topple the balance of world power.
Presented in a AVC encoded 1080p transfer, overall the transfer is great. The film does have a very dark look and feel to it, unlike the first movie which seems to have used a more brighter palette. For the main part, the picture is very crisp showing off great details however, there is a lot of grain which may put off some people out there. For me personally, I love it and feel it suits the film perfectly and gives it that gritty look that in my opinion was missing from the first. The grain for me gave it the great 80’s look and feel.
Colours pop off the screen, especially during the forest scene nearer the beginning of the movie. Scenery is lush and rich, and the blacks on the movie are brilliant. Depths and shadows really do stand out and looks fantastic on this disc.
The only negative I could say is that every now and again some shots do look out of focus and do become very blurry, but this is something I remember from the theatrical showings.
Overall the presentation is superb. The picture is spot on and should please all fans of the movie.
Lionsgate have done a fantastic job with the audio on this Blu-Ray. We have a couple of tracks to choose from. First up there is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track that has been optimised for late night viewing. The main track is a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track that is optimised for 11.1 Neo:X playback, now this I could only wish for, but I have to settle for good old DTS-HD MA 5.1. It’s also worth noting that this is the first Blu-Ray to feature the Neo:X option! I would love to be able to experience this as if the DTS-HD 5.1 track is anything to go by, it’s bound to be nothing short of spectacular.
The mix on this track is jaw dropping! The bass will literally shake your walls!! The surround mix could be one of the best I have ever heard, certainly the best that I have had the pleasure of reviewing thus far. Bullets fly from all around you, it really brings you into the film. Brian Tyler’s score is epic as always, and suits the film down to the ground.
There is a great balance between the soundtrack and dialogue. SFX don’t overpower the dialogue, not once did I have to reach for the remote to turn up the AV receiver, evening with Sly’s deepening voice and Van Damme’s awesomely bad accent! Overall the mix is just one big powerhouse, just like the movie. You will not be disappointed.
(All extras are presented in 1080p unless stated)
On the disc we have –
* Audio commentary with director Simon West
* Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Anti-Heroes (21 minutes) – A nice little behind the scenes featurette with the director and some of the cast from the film
* On the Assault: The Real-Life Weaponary of The Expendables (13 minutes) – Randy Couture acts as a tour guide and takes us round the Las Vegas gun store explaining and showing us some of the weapons used in the film
* Deleted Scenes (5 minutes)
* Gag Reel (5 minutes)
I will say that this is the most disappointing part of the disc. For some reason Lionsgate have decided to not include 2 featurettes from the US Blu-ray (Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980’s and the Rise of the Action Film and Guns for Hire: the Real Life Expendables), almost and hour of extra material! Very very disappointing for me as I would’ve loved to have seen these. I would’ve also liked to have seen more interviews with the cast, especially the likes of Arnie, Bruce Willis, Van Damme and Chuck Norris as there is none! It would’ve also have been interesting to hear from Liam Hemsworth and hear his experience on working on the film with the cast.
Is The Expendables 2 a good, well made movie…..? Simply put, no of course not. It’s badly acted, crappy dialogue, over the top action and some of the biggest egos ever to grace the screen all in one go. What it is, is a awesome powerhouse of a movie that will not only please the 80’s action movie fan boys such as myself, it also shows the younger crowd of today that the awesome cheesey action movies of the past can still be made and can still crap on from a great height most of the poor attempts that are made today.
The first movie for me was superb, so naturally I was extremely excited when I heard that the sequel would be going ahead. All the guys are back this time around, with the addition of some new (and old) faces. Expendables 2 features more Arnie, more Bruce Willis and adding to the awesome mix of 80s action stars is the on-screen cameo of Chuck Norris! Playing the lead role of the bad guy this time round is none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme! We also have the fantastic Scott Adkins playing Van Damme’s main henchman for the movie (he’s certainly one to look out for in the future for action movies and is one I hope gets more and more starring roles). Also introduced are Liam Hemsworth and Nan Yu as Maggie. For you guys that are expecting a lot more of Jet Li, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. His appearance is nothing more than a 5 minute cameo, but he does get in one superb fight scene.
The film is riddled with some fantastic one-liners that will keep you chuckling throughout the whole movie, with a lot of the time Dolph stealing the show. Van Damme plays your typical bad guy, and does it perfectly, he was the perfect choice to play the lead villain here, the role was made for him. So over-the-top with his dialogue and actions, it was fantastic to see him in a big budget movie once again. It’s also worth mentioning that the final fight between Sly and Van Damme will be a fan-boys dream come true, it’s one of those fights I thought I would never get the chance to see on-screen. It feels very real and gritty, not over the top as you would come to expect from a film like this. Sly brought back ‘Rocky’ for this fight, and watching him go to work on Van Damme really gets you rooting for him, but of course we are also treated to the good ol’ Van Damme jumping roundhouse kick, which made me almost jump for joy.
The on-screen chemistry with everyone is fantastic, you know they all had a great time making the film, probably even more-so than the first one. Perhaps the guys knew this would be the last time all of these stars of action movies past would grace the screen in one big movie…. we forget how old some of the guys are, but no doubt they still have a few more movies up their sleeves.
It’s films like these that I know and love, and also miss from todays offerings. It was refreshing to watch an over-the-top action movie instead of come crappy remake, or made-for-teen-watered-down crap fest that seems to be churned out from Hollywood now. The action was hardcore and plentiful, with some nice gore thrown in and luckily the CGI blood does work this time round unlike the first movie, although it would’ve been great to have seen them use the good old squibs. If this doesn’t leave you with a huge grin on your face once the credits roll then I would suggest watching it again.
As for the disc itself, Lionsgate have produced a fine release in terms of AV quality, it’s just a shame they didn’t bring over all of the extras from the US release. Needless to say it’s a film I will be watching again and again.