DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Expendables 2, Blu-ray+Digital Copy (2012)

A violent shoot-'em-up for fans of classic action, with some of their old time action stars.

Published on November 28, 2012

The Expendables 2, Blu-ray+Digital Copy (2012)

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Liam Hemsworth, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger  
Director: Simon West
Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment 
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Neo X 11.1 Surround; English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 Surround; Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1; English DD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish 
Extras: Audio commentary with Director Simon West; Four featurettes (“Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Anti-Heroes”, “Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980’s and the Rise of the Action Film”, “On the Assault: The Real Life Weaponry of The Expendables 2” and “Guns for Hire: The Real Expendables”); Five deleted scenes; Gag reel; Ultraviolet digital copy 
Length: 102 minutes 
Movie Rating: ****   Video Rating: ****
Audio Rating: *****    D-BOX Motion Rating: ****1/2

In The Expendables 2, Barney Ross’ (Sylvester Stallone) Expendables crew is reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) of the CIA enlists them for another job.  They are to retrieve a top-secret package from a plane that crashed in Eastern Europe.  However, the job goes awry when a terrorist for hire named Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme) intercepts the package and kills one of Ross’ team.  The Expendables receive some timely assistance from old friends Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Booker (Chuck Norris) as they seek to complete a mission that has now become very personal to them.  The Expendables 2 is every bit as fun, if not more so, as the original film.  There are bigger guns, more fights and larger explosions, but the occasional infusion of humor has not been lost.  The actors had a blast making this movie and their chemistry is clearly evident on-screen.  Having plenty of replay value, The Expendables 2 is an easy recommendation.

The overall high definition video quality of this Blu-ray disc is very good.  Images are clean and demonstrate fine detail.  Black levels are consistently dark throughout the film.  Color varies during the movie, sometimes being warm and robust with nicely-saturated hues, while at other times being more stylized and having a grayish cast.  There are a couple of scenes with fairly heavy grain, but picture defect mastering is otherwise commendable with no major flaws or compression artifacts.  The overall audio quality is excellent with the English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track serving as the basis for this review (there is also a state-of-the-art DTS-HD Neo:X 11.1 track available for those with the appropriate decoding equipment for the additional channels and additional speakers).  The soundtrack is very dynamic and actively incorporates all of the discrete channels into its mix.  Dialogue is crisp and remains intelligible amidst all of the on-screen action.  The surround channels are aggressively utilized for the sound effects, plus include many split rear effects and side-to-side pans.  The low frequency effects channel is explosive and actively engaged throughout the movie.

The Expendables 2 is compatible with the D-BOX Motion Code™ System, meaning that if you have the necessary D-BOX equipment, your movie viewing experience will be enhanced by adding both motion and vibration to your chosen seating.  Motion effects and vibration are present throughout the majority of the movie.  Up-and-down and side-to-side movements, plus powerful vibration, are used to simulate multiple types of gunfire, hand-to-hand combat, several explosions as well as travel aboard a plane and large truck.  My favorite D-BOX highlights were the opening rescue sequence, and the climatic battle sequence with Vilain at the end of the movie (the impacts from the punches landed by Ross and Vilain are great).  Overall, this is a must-have D-BOX title for your collection.

—Calvin Harding Jr.

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