The Expendables appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. While not a bad presentation, the image seemed less consistent than I’d expect.
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 noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and I saw no edge haloes. 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.
Blacks tended to be erratic, unfortunately, as some seemed deep, but others could be a bit mushy. Shadows also were up and down, so some low-light shots appeared somewhat murky. All of this made for a “B-“ presentation.
Happier thoughts greeted the consistently active DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack of Expendables. 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 - mostly. Music was vivid and bold, while effects sounded dynamic and full. Those elements showed clear highs and tight lows.
Only speech was a bit of a weak link, as the lines became buried in the mix at times and could be tough to understand. Since this wasn’t exactly a chatty flick, that wasn’t a huge handicap, and the dialogue was usually comprehendible. The mix’s strengths were more than enough to make this an “A-“ track.
As we shift to extras, 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 disc opens with ads for The Next Three Days, Rambo, Apocalypse Now, and Highlander 2.
A second disc provides a DVD copy of Expendables. It includes the trailer and some previews but lacks all the other extras.
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 Blu-ray provides erratic but 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