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The Expendables 2 – Blu-ray Review

November 24, 2012 – 7:24 PM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

4 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 7.1 on IMDb
4 out of 5 starsVideo Quality 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
5 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
DTS-HD 7.1 MA / DTS Neo:X 11.1
3.5 out of 5 starsBonus Materials over 90 minutes long with digital copies
Rated:R (Restricted)
Year: – 2012
Length: – 102 minutes
Studio:Lionsgate
Region:Region 1 (A)
This uses 45.2GB total.


Overall VerdictKicks SOME Ass As Expected

Buy it for $19.99 @ Amazon.com
Buy it on Blu-ray for $19.99 @ Amazon.com


— Review written by: Justin Sluss

Trailer:


The Movie Itself is the obvious sequel to “The Expendables” from 2010. This time around the film was directed by Simon West whose previous credits include the films “Con Air” (1997), “The General’s Daughter” (1999), “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001), “The Mechanic” (2011) and “Stolen” (2012). This is based on the characters created by David Callaham, the story by Ken Kaufman, David Agosto & Richard Wenk and the screenplay co-wrote by Sylvester Stallone.

Barney Ross” (played by Sylvester Stallone) and his group of mercenaries are back for more action. The group this time around includes “Lee Christmas” (played by Jason Statham), “Gunnar Jensen” (played by Dolph Lundgren), “Hale Caesar” (played by Terry Crews), “Toll Road” (played by Randy Couture), “Yin Yang” (played by Jet Li) and the new addition of “Bill The Kid” (played by Liam Hemsworth). Along the way they’ll get a bit of help from some other folks as well as reunite with a few familiar faces. They’re sent on a mission yet again by Mr. “Church” (played by Bruce Willis) to the former Soviet Union to retrieve something from a plane that crashed. Church sends along an Asian female bad-ass by the name of “Maggie” (played by Nan Yu) to assure things go smoothly. Barney and his group make it to the crashed plane but they encounter another group led by a man named “Vilian” (played by Jean-Claude Van Damme). This other group, terrorists not mercenaries, ends up making things quite personal and it leaves Barney seeking some serious revenge. They’ll end up tracking down this group and discover that they’re in possession of five tons of weapons-grade plutonium which they have plans to use to threaten the world. It’s up to Barney and his group of expendables to make sure this doesn’t happen. It’s as simple as that.

The Expendables 2 on Blu-ray screenshot

The Expendables 2” proves to be just as enjoyable as the first film and doesn’t short the audience in any way on action. The new additions of some faces like action film legends Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme are very cool. My only real complaint about this film is that Jet Li ends up bailing out not even halfway through the film and that’s honestly not even a “spoiler” to tell you. He is replaced by another Asian bad-ass, this time female, in the form of Nan Yu. There’s some pretty damn funny “one-liners” here delivered from the likes of Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis in reference to their previous films they’ve become famous for over the years. Some might find those lines a bit campy but I found them to be at least worth a laugh.

The film was received pretty well by critics if you go by the 66% (out of 100%) “tomatometer” rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences seemed to like it a tad bit more though as it holds a 73% (out of 100%) rating over on Rotten Tomatoes from the audience and a 7.1 (out of 10) rating over at IMDb. The film didn’t do quite as well as I’m sure the studio had hoped for it to at the box office, as it only ended up grossing 85 million in domestic ticket sales and 215 million in foreign ticket sales. The film was said to have a budget around 100 million. All of this according to Box Office Mojo. Lastly, it’s worth noting that they seem to already have plans for a sequel in the works (“The Expendables 3“) with no release date yet announced.

The Expendables 2 on Blu-ray screenshot

Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications this was shot on Super 35MM film using the Panavision Panaflex Millennium XL2 camera. First thing I have to mention is that honestly the first film (“The Expendables“) not only looked much better than this film does, it looked cleaner. This seems to have way too much of a gritty and grainy feel to it in comparison. That could be because the first film was shot a tad bit digitally and this was shot it seems entirely on film. There’s a large amount of visible film grain here in almost every scene, especially the dim lit ones. There is a nice amount of detail here for the most part but the gritty nature of its appearance makes it not seem not at all too pristine. It’s fitting I suppose for the gritty style of the film itself. By no means does this look bad, it has its share of somewhat impressive moments but I would certainly not pick this as one of the best looking examples of Hi-Def. Some scenes seem a bit sharper and a tad cleaner than others while some of those with heavy amounts of film grain almost appear “soft” at times.

On a technical note I’ll mention that this seemed to hit some very high bitrates throughout, up to 43Mbps at times. The black level here is solid, fleshtones are accurate and the color palette can be at times vibrant although it is subdued for the most part to fit the visual style of the film. All and all this delivers a solid presentation but nothing that I’d consider worth giving anything higher than a “4 Star Rating” for video quality. The audio quality as you’ll hear me discuss below definitely is the real highlight of this disc.

The Expendables 2 on Blu-ray screenshot

Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio which is optimized for DTS Neo:X 11.1 as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @224kbps optimized for late-night listening. This is the first release to include an 11.1 mix in the form of being optimized from a 7.1 mix. To experience this in 11.1 this will require you to be on a AV receiver capable of decoding the signal into DTS Neo:X as well as having the twelve speakers needed. Now on to discussing the sound quality here.

The mix starts out with a ton of rear channel presence and LFE as a tank and other vehicles roll by during the opening scene. Things are very intense from the very beginning. Roughly at the 1 minute 30 seconds mark you’ll hear that the sound of punches being delivered come across quite intense. This serves as a nice taste of that to come in terms of sound effects. 2 minutes and 10 seconds in when “The Expendables” come riding in is when things start to get downright intense in terms of sounds. The original music here by Brian Tyler gets delivered through primarily the front left & right channel speakers with one hell of an amount of rear channel presence and definitely insane intense amount of LFE. Gunfire here sounds amazing. At just 3 minutes in I was already sure that this was going to earn itself a perfect rating for audio quality and let’s just say it damn sure didn’t disappoint me. The dialogue here is distinctly delivered through primarily the center channel and never once becomes overpowered by any of the intense action the film offers up. That being said, you’ll find no need for volume adjustments here; aside from just possibly wanting to crank it up louder. Sound effects — as mentioned — come across downright awesome, especially the explosions. Around 7 minutes in you’ll be thinking, just as I was, that this is possibly one of the most extreme lossless mixes I’ve heard in some time. In fact, the first 15 minutes of this film prove to be insanely extreme and serve as some nice “demo material” but things do slow down for a tad bit afterward. Fear not though, as things will get back to the level of intensity you’d expect in due time.

Around the 25 minutes mark you’ll notice that the music on the film’s Soundtrack gets delivered, just as with the original music, primarily through the front left & right channel speakers with a very nice amount of rear channel presence and LFE. At the 31 minutes mark you’ll start to notice that Brian Tyler’s original music starts to get a bit more loud; fitting the mood of the film perfectly. Subtle as it may be at times, the original music finally starts to build in its intensity to fit the suspense of the film. Up until the roughly 1 hour mark the mix has had its definite share of ups and downs but it’ll get back to being insanely extreme soon; don’t you worry. The real highlights to the mix come in the first 15 minutes and then at the latter point of the film when sound effects and the original music both come across epic. Just in 7.1 or 5.1 lossless you’ll certainly be “blown away” by this mix and I can only imagine how much ass it could kick in 11.1 via the DTS Neo:X optimization on a capable audio setup. This earns itself a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality.

The Expendables 2 on Blu-ray screenshot

Bonus Materials on this release are ALL presented in full 1080p Hi-Def video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @192kbps sound.

  • Audio Commentary with Director Simon West
  • Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Anti-Heroes” (21:19 – HD) offers up lots of behind-the-scenes footage on the set as well as interviews with Sylvester Stallone (Screenwriter/”Barney Ross“), Les Weldon (Producer), Randy Couture (“Toll Road“), Terry Crews (“Hale Caesar“), Kevin King-Templeton (Producer), Dolph Lundgren (“Gunner“), Simon West (Director), Avi Lerner (Producer) and Jean-Claude Van Damme (“Vilian“). Lastly there’s mention of the possibility of yet another sequel.
  • Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980′s and the Rise of the Action Film” (24:59 – HD) takes a look back over the ’80s action films and what was going on in the world at the time such as Ronald Reagan being president and his stance against Russia. This includes interviews with John Meroney (Writer at The Atlantic), Leo Braudy (Cultural Historian), Susan Jeffords (Author of “Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity In The Reagan Era“), Chris Carle (Entertainment Editorial Director at IGN.com), Ted Kotcheff (Director of “First Blood“), Sylvester Stallone, Steven E. de Sauza (Writer of “48 Hours“, “Commando” & “Die Hard“), Jeph Loeb (Writer of “Commando“), Randy Couture, Ron Reagan (Author of “My Father at 100“) and Simon West (Director of “The Expendables 2“).
  • On the Assault: The Real-Life Weaponry of The Expendables” (13:36 – HD) is a tad bit self-explanitory by just the subtitle but it consists of your host, Expendable, Randy Couture (“Toll Road“) firing off some of the guns featured in the film at The Gun Store in Las Vegas. Along the way he’ll be instructed and given info regarding each gun by Tony Dee (Chief Gunsmith at The Gun Store). When Randy fires the guns you’ll get to see them in slow motion which proves to be pretty cool. Tony Dee will make sure this proves to also be informative.
  • Guns for Hire: The Real Expendables” (24:19 – HD) takes a look at real-life hired mercenaries (of sorts), or security as they would prefer to be called. You’ll get to see some of their training exercises and such as well as get interviews from folks like Stephen Mastalerz (CEO of Trojan Securities International), Wayne S. Cole (Owner/Operator of Ronin Worldwide Executive Protection), Greg Suhajda (President and CEO of Ag Advisors), Dan Valdivia (Private Security Contractor), Patrick Potochick (Tactical Instructor) and countless other Private Security Contractors.
  • Deleted Scenes (4:39 – HD) are short but cool.
  • Gag Reel” (5:09 – HD) proves to be slightly amusing.
  • DTS-HD Master Audio Sound Check lets you test out either your 11.1 DTS Neo:X setup, 7.1 or 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio setups as well as gives you “What is DTS Neo:X?” — a brief explanation of the speaker setup and how it works. Below you’ll find a screenshot of what the sound check for DTS Neo:X 11.1 looks like.

DTS Sound Check for Neo:X 11.1 systems

  • A Digital Copy of the film is included on a paper insert with a URL and redemption code which is compatible with both Mac, PC and iTunes compatible portable media devices.
  • An UltraViolet digital copy of the film is included on a paper insert with a URL and redemption code.

Overall the bonus materials here prove to be worthwhile and somewhat lengthy at roughly an hour and a half in total runtime. I really enjoyed the featurette about ’80s action films as well as the “making of” featurette. The deleted scenes and gag reel are both worth the watch as well. Plus you’ve got an audio commentary from the director and the digital supplemental materials like the standard Digital Copy compatible with iTunes and the UltraViolet digital copy. Fans of the film will like what they get here in terms of bonus.


Blu-ray Disc packaging:


Screenshots:

NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.

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