Escape Plan II Blu-ray Review
The only question is can you escape watching it?
Escape Plan II Review
The sequel that no one asked for turns out to be a straight-to-video quality dud barely paid lip service by supposed star Stallone.Escape Plan hardly set the world alight. What audiences had been waiting for since the 80s was a decent team-up between action icons Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, with their brief Expendables barely satisfying this itch, so Escape Plan at least afforded a slightly more substantial project for the two to explode onto the screen together doing. Although eminently watchable, it was still a lightweight b-movie at best, affording us the fun of seeing these two now-ageing icons do their thing, but unfortunately not delivering anything particularly memorable in doing so.
The last thing anybody was asking for, or expecting, was a sequel. However, there was just enough good favour surrounding the first to leave another prison break enterprise with Stallone at the helm a not wholly unjustified idea. Of course, it's unsurprising that Schwarzenegger would not be back; it would have been contrived to have his character back in the mix, but Stallone's escape expert would have been able to carry it, if only the movie had been about him...
Only glorified cameos from cover stars Stallone and Dave Bautista.
Escape Plan II is all about the next generation. As if Stallone learnt nothing from all that was wrong with Expendables III (namely, the younger cast of 'new' expendables), he posits a story which involves his younger team players getting themselves in trouble in a high tech facility whilst, through a smattering of unsatisfying interstitial scenes and voiceovers, Stallone's 'manager' runs around trying to find out where the prison is so he can break them out.
It's questionable whether the project was ever intended to be this way - Stallone signed on to star, after all, but given the almost immediate announcement of a third movie around the time when production on the second had barely begun, and the subsequent revelation that they were shot back-to-back, it would not be unreasonable to assume that the original plan for a sequel was split into two: a first sequel that set up and established more of his team, and featured only glorified cameos from cover stars Stallone and Dave Bautista (who at least gave his full attention for the entire runtime of Final Score), and a second sequel where they return to take centre stage.
This is the only reasonable explanation for what is a disappointment in any fan's book, and a case of really misleading marketing, with a bunch of no-name actors carrying the action for the majority of the runtime, some really bad CG explosions and even worse effects during the supposedly high tech prison sequences (note for the producers - don't make a movie set in a high-tech computer-run prison if you can't afford to show the tech), and a nonsense story that is initially hard to comprehend before you realise that you're better off not bothering.
Escape Plan II Blu-ray PictureSignature Entertainment's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release is a basic, bare-bones affair which at least matches up to the US release in terms of video and audio presentation, affording the limited budget sequel a frequently slick and shiny albeit admittedly far from reference 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video rendition in the movie's original limited theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
Frequently slick and shiny albeit far from reference.
In some attempt to give the piece a semblance of style, the film is shot through with blue-green/teal tones which inform almost every sequence even beyond the prison sequences. This isn't really a style, per se, more like a iPhone filter than anything distinctive, and certainly something which is pretty familiar for anybody who has watched a low budget action movie in the last decade or more. The result is quite high contrast, and a little gritty - at least in style even if not content - affording the presentation some striking colours and a few standout moments, but also leaving it open to criticism when the spotlight is on shoddy effects.
Detail is occasionally impressive, giving focus to the dirty, bloodied and unshaven visages, frequently slick with sweat, and given fine clarity up close. Black levels are strong, and deep enough to give it a decent backdrop without any overtly distracting crush and overall it's a very good presentation.
Escape Plan II Blu-ray SoundA strong audio offering.
The accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also a decently engaging offering, providing a heady backdrop to the proceedings, and infused with a nice 80s electronic vibes that distinguishes the score slightly above what you would normally expect for something otherwise so straight to video in quality, and maybe even border on reminding of the seminal Daft Punk score to Tron: Legacy.
Dialogue is a little muffled - Stallone is hardly the ideal choice for a mumbling voiceover - but it's not a striking issue if you keep the film thrumming at a high enough volume, with plenty of suitably tech-y effects noises, including advanced tazer-style weapons, conventional gunshots and shotgun blasts, and even a few explosions. It's a strong audio offering, hardly reference but nonetheless afforded plenty of action to keep it engaging.
Escape Plan II Blu-ray ExtrasDropping the hour of behind the scenes material, the UK release is basically bare bones.
Escape Plan II Blu-ray VerdictA cheap knock-off of a sequel which isn't worth your time.
Escape Plan II is a shocking straight-to-video quality sequel for Stallone to have agreed to participate in at this stage in his career when he appears to take some kind of pride in his projects, whatever their faults. To promote Stallone and Bautista as the stars of the show is also unforgivably misleading from a marketing point of view, with the two barely making a dent until the final act, by which point it's too late and most viewers will have long since given up.
The UK release provides very good video and audio, so fans should consider it a decent purchase, but don't be fooled by any affection for the first film; this is a cheap knock-off of a sequel which isn't worth your time.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £9.99
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