The Expendables appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. While not a stellar presentation, the image usually looked fine.
Sharpness varied. Much of the movie showed good delineation and clarity, but occasional exceptions occurred and gave us slightly soft shots. Those weren’t a big concern, though, and the majority of the flick exhibited nice definition.
I saw no edge haloes or shimmering, but some city shots could feel slightly ropy. Source flaws also failed to materialize.
In terms of colors, Expendables often went with a cold, stylized blue palette, though it warmed up at times, especially during exteriors on the island of Vilena. Whatever choices the film made, the hues looked well-rendered and full, and HDR added range and impact to the hues.
Blacks tended to seem deep, while shadows appeared clear and smooth, if occasionally a little dense. HDR brought power and emphasis to whites and contrast. This felt like a “B” image due to the occasional weaknesses, but it often looked very good and nearly rated a “B+”.
Happier thoughts greeted the consistently active Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Expendables. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, this delivered an assault on the ears, which was a good thing given the kind of film this was.
Music broadened to the various speakers well and a wide variety of action elements kicked in throughout the movie. We got a mix of vehicles – cars, planes, motorcycles, trucks – to zip around the room, and different weapons also provided real pop.
That meant gunfire, explosions and everything else one could imagine for a big old action flick. The effects created a killer setting for the set pieces and made this an impressive soundscape.
Audio quality held up its end of the bargain as well. Music was vivid and bold, while effects sounded dynamic and full. Those elements showed clear highs and tight lows.
Speech felt natural and concise. The mix’s strengths were more than enough to make this an “A“ track.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? The Atmos audio felt a bit more expansive than the already excellent DTS-HD MA 5.1 track on the Blu-ray.
As for visuals, the 4K came across as better defined and more vivid. Though the 4K didn’t dazzle in terms of picture, it offered an upgrade over the spotty Blu-ray.
No extras appear on the 4K disc itself, but we get a bunch on the included Blu-ray disc, where we begin with an audio commentary from writer/director/actor Sylvester Stallone. He presents a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, and related domains.
When he speaks, Stallone offers a pretty good look at the movie. However, the commentary comes with more than a few empty spaces. Those slow it down and make it a pretty mediocre discussion.
Called “Ultimate Recon Mode”, Bonusview provides a picture-in-picture accompaniment alongside the movie. Essentially this provides Stallone’s commentary accompanied by sporadic video components that show behind the scenes footage from the production.
The latter add little, partly because they often come without audio. We hear Stallone most of the whole time, so the shots from the set we see lose a lot of value.
Stallone offers occasional snippets outside of the standard commentary, as he occasionally stops the movie to make additional remarks about specific scenes. We also get a few clips with producers Kevin King-Templeton and John Thompson and actors Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews and Randy Couture as well.
Because of this, the 103-minute movie spans 121 minutes in “BonusView”.
As such, “Bonusview” seems like the way to go if you want to screen the commentary, as it gives us that track along with additional material. However, if you already listened to the commentary, ”Bonusview” doesn’t add enough to merit a viewing, as it mostly just repeats Stallone’s audio track.
A four-part documentary, Inferno: The Making of The Expendables runs one hour, 31 minutes, 42 seconds as it presents a form of production diary. While we get occasional soundbites from a mix of personnel, we mostly watch shots from the set and hear narration from Stallone.
“Inferno” looks at Stallone’s early love of action flicks and the goals for Expendables, cast, characters and performances, what Stallone brings to the effort, stunts and action, and other anecdotes.
I usually like programs such as this since they can give us dynamic glimpses of the production. Overall, “Inferno” offers some nice material, but it’s not as good as it could – or should – have been.
That’s because its producers make it into too much of a love letter to Stallone, so far too much of the show seems intended to glorify its main participant. There’s still enough quality footage to create a reasonably interesting program, but it’s a bit of a disappointment.
A 2010 Comic-Con Panel runs 45 minutes, 29 seconds. Along with moderator Harry Knowles, we hear from Crews, Stallone, Lundgren, Couture, and actor Steve Austin.
Across the panel, we learn about casting and aspects of the production, with Stallone as the dominant participant. A few facts emerge but mostly “Comic-Con” melds promotion and joking.
From the Ashes lasts 26 minutes, 36 seconds and offers info from Stallone, editors Paul Harb and Ken Blackwell, composer Brian Tyler, producer Avi Lerner and sound re-recording mixer Chris David.
“Ashes” covers post-production elements like editing, test screenings, music, sound design and ADR, promotion and the film’s release. This becomes a pretty good overview of these domains.
One Deleted Scene goes for 45 seconds. In it, the crazy Gunnar character tells a joke to distract Somali pirates. It seems forgettable but harmless.
A Gag Reel takes up five minutes, three seconds and provides the usual goofs and giggles. Nothing especially engaging results.
Under Marketing Gallery, we find a trailer and two TV spots. We also see a “Poster Gallery” with a whopping three images.
The Blu-ray opens with ads for The Next Three Days, Rambo, Apocalypse Now, and Highlander 2.
Note that an Extended Version of Expendables exists as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear in this package.
While The Expendables helped give some life to the careers of Sylvester Stallone and other faded action heroes, it failed to create an exciting flick. The movie features the worst aspects of the 1980s efforts it emulates but doesn’t add anything new to make it sizzle. The 4K UHD provides generally good picture as well as excellent audio and a bunch of supplements. Expendables should’ve been a fun adventure but it’s too much of a mess to succeed.
To rate this film, visit the Director's Cut review of THE EXPENDABLES