'The Expendables' - Uncut Version crashes on to UK Region B locked Blu-ray with a handsome 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The many dark scenes in the movie come across well thanks to the deep blacks and healthy contrast range on display. The explosions that rip the screen apart are rich with yellow and orange flames. Probably the most impressive part of the transfer is its handling of shiny, sweat soaked skin tones on characters of varying ethnic origin. The colour palette has a rich vibrancy that befits an over the top action flick and there is an impressive amount of detail to behold, such as standout veins, facial scars and tattoos. Coming from a very recent source, the transfer is free from dirt and scratches as you’d like to hope it would. No doubt this will be used to demo many a system for quite a while.
While the image quality of ‘The Expendables’ is very good, it’s the DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack that really steals the show here. If you have neighbours through the wall from you, invite them round to watch the movie so you can all enjoy it without complaints. Also, remove any valuables from your shelves then wind up the wick. The use of the surrounds is hugely impressive as you’re caught in the middle of gun battles where bullets ping off your walls, automatic shotguns whump away and grenades fly from one side of the room to the other. As explosions go off, the whole building will shake right down to its foundations. The sub-woofer will be exhausted after such a tiring work out. It is constantly engaged from the very opening with deep rumbles and never lets up. As impressive as the bass is, there is also room for more discrete sounds in the mix such as clicks from magazines being clipped into place. Dialogue is also generally clear so you can catch the witty one liners with ease. I did have a bit of a problem with Mickey Rourke’s mumbling though, but that’s his style. There’s some heavy rock music like ‘Mississippi Queen’ to kick you in the chest now and again, but it’s the bullets flying past your head that will make you duck most in this seamless, immersive mix that really benefits from the extra two speakers at the back. It’s a wow!
Audio Commentary – Sly Stallone flies solo on this commentary and, strangely, he holds your interest. Despite the beefcake image, he is very intelligent and articulate as he explains how the movie was made. He tells us what motivated him in various scenes and what it was like working with the other stars. He explains his directing style gained from working on both sides of the camera which helps with the way he treats actors. We get to hear the psychology behind the motivations of his characters and how he gets the most out of them as a director. This is not a woolly headed movie star talking, it’s someone who really knows his stuff and it’s quite a revelation as we listen to a man who is passionate about what he does.
The Expendables: Ultimate Recon Mode (HD) – This picture-in-picture option gives us a behind-the-scenes view of the sets that were used in each scene and we get to see the crew working on a scene as it plays. We hear some of Sly’s commentary at certain points that helps beef up the content. Crew members appear and talk about various subjects related to the production. We also hear from the producers as they explain the work that went into shooting particular scenes.
From the Ashes: Postproduction (HD, 26 min.) – This short follows Stallone through the editing, sound mixing, and test screening stages of the film making process. We see that Stallone doesn’t greatly interfere in other people’s departments and that people are allowed to do the jobs they are being paid to do. We get to see him working with the sound mixers and doing some post-synching with Jason Statham, providing notes where necessary. I was as impressed as the people who worked with him. At the test screenings, he actually read every feedback card from the audience.
Deleted Scene (HD, 1 min.) – Just the one, which is actually more of an extension of the early pirate scene where Dolph Lundgren tells an ancient joke, but the head pirate gets the laugh. It was probably cut as it broke the tension of the sequence.
Gag Reel (HD, 5 min.) – Yep, the usual line fluffs and things not quite happening as planned. There’s a funny one where Sly falls over, the rest are pretty dull.
Promo Gallery (HD) – A theatrical trailer, a couple of TV spots and a poster gallery are hidden away in here.
MetaMenu - This allows you to download an app called Metabeam for your mobile device that gives you access to some of the extras above and more.
BD Touch - This is another app that you can download and install on your mobile device in order to take advantage of the enhanced features on the disc, such as controlling playback of the disc and allowing access to downloadable goodies. Sadly I couldn’t test either of the two apps as I don’t possess an iPhone or iPod.
The testosterone fuelled action flick ‘The Expendables’ kicks down the UK Region B locked Blu-ray door with a cracking good 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Vibrant colours, excellent contrast and realistic skin tones complement the fine detail of this pin sharp picture. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround track launches a full scale assault with tremendous bass and perfect panning effects to place you right in the centre of the bone shaking action. Director Sly Stallone provides a fascinating comm. track to back up the usual featurette, deleted scene and gag reel in the extras. The movie itself is a real action packed, knife in the neck tale of mercenaries taking on the dictator of a small South American country. Stirring stuff from Stallone, Statham, Li, Rourke, Willis & Schwarzenegger. It’s over the top, but who cares. Perfect viewing after a curry and a few beers.
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