The Expendables - 3 Disc Steelbook Preview
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Eric Roberts, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, David Zayas, Mickey Rourke, Gary Daniels, Giselle Itie, Bruce Willis & Arnold Schwarzenegger
Run Time: 99 mins
You know the story already but lets revisit the concept: Action Movie Monarch Sylvester Stallone delivered genre fans a nostalgic and much-needed 'blast from the past' when he constructed an old-school action epic in the vein of classic 1980s and early 1990s action cinema. This 'throwback' to the genre's golden era assembles an all-star cast to portray a team of hard-as-nails mercenaries who accept a daring mission to overthrow a renegade dictator on a small remote island. During a reconaissance mission with Team Leader Barney Ross (Stallone) and former SAS man Lee Christmas (Statham), their cover is blown and they are forced to fight their way off the island, leaving behind their guide and contact, Sandra (Itie). Upon returning home, overcome with guilt, Ross decides to go back, help Sandra and complete the mission. Aided by his loyal team of badasses, a showdown of devastating proportions is about to hit the little island of Vilena.
If you're an action junkie, chances are you saw the film, witnessed the mind-blowing action, understood the 'throwback' premise and came to your own conclusions on the team banter, occasionally stilted dialogue and fast editing. Put simply, this was actually quite a dividing film among even the most loyal of action fans. Some loved it, while others felt crushingly disappointed. I, myself, did enjoy the film but it felt far more rewarding the second time around. Upon first viewing my expectations were sky-high due to the exceptional cast, awesome premise and near-guaranteed film quality oweing to Mr. Stallone's role as actor, writer and director. As I've written previously, I felt the film delivered amazingly well in some areas (jaw-dropping and innovative action scenes and a great use of old-style, physical action and stunts) with some parts falling short (occasionally awkward dialogue, under-developed characters in the team, some choppy editing). But this was an action movie for the 21st century which successfully reminded us why we love this genre. It may even serve as a converter for newer fans looking to rediscover the old action gems we know all too well.
Chances are that if you love action cinema, you saw the film, and if you saw the film, you'll have made up your own mind. No point trying to change your view now! December 2010 offers an early Christmas present as The Expendables sees its highly anticipated release on the home platforms. There's the standard-def DVD edition, Blu-ray edition, Digital Download and, perhaps the coolest of the bunch, the 3-Disc Limited Edition Steelbook (see image above) which features both the DVD and Blu-ray versions, plus an exclusive third disc containing the acclaimed 90 minute documentary film: Inferno - The Making of Expendables. Annoyingly (though this won't affect you if you buy the steelbook), the DVD and Blu-ray versions feature different special features, effectively meaning if you're a fan and want to snap up all the extra content, the steelbook is the only real option.
Here is a run-down of what each version offers:
- Audio Commentary with Sylvester Stallone
- BonusView™ The Expendables: Ultimate Recon Mode
- From the Ashes: Post Production Documentary
- Gag Reel
- Deleted Scene
- Promo Gallery - Theatrical Trailer / TV spots
- Audio commentary with Sylvester Stallone
- Before the Battle - The Making of The Expendables
- Deleted Scene
- Gag Reel
- Promo Gallery - Theatrical Trailer / TV spots
BULLET PROOF LIMITED EDITION STEEL BOOK ™
- DVD and Blu-ray with all the extras included on the single formats and a third DVD disc featuring an exclusive 90 minute documentary: Inferno - The Making of Expendables
I should confess at this stage that I only had early access to the DVD edition and not the complete Steelbook, as yet. However, it looks like they've pulled out all the stops in providing fans a selection of varied and interesting material to showcase how the film evolved and the level of work and tireless commitment that brought the project to our screens. Both versions feature a commentary track by Sylvester Stallone which offers some very nice insight into working with the high-calibre stars he successfully assembled for the film, shooting extremely difficult scenes and suffering injuries as a result and filming across some truly amazing, exotic locations. This paints a picture of how deeply committed he was in delivering his ideal, all-out action epic, and makes you respect him all the more for it. Before the Battle, the 'making of' documentary contains footage from the iTunes promo videos which marketed the film online leading up to the theatrical release, and still provides a nice perspective of making the film from Mr. Stallone's point of view. The Deleted Scene (there is only one) is an extended take of the already famous Gunnar Jensen "Warning shot!" which doesn't work as well as the shortened, punchier version. Unfortunately this is all we get but it would have been nice to see more, particularly longer takes of the action and maybe more character-building scenes from the core team. Perhaps they're saving this for the Director's Cut version which is due for release early next year. The Gag Reel provides goofs and outtakes from a range of the stars, including Bruce and Arnold's cameo roles, but feels like little more than extra filler on the disc. There are also the theatrical and TV trailers, along with a few poster images, which rounds off the standard DVD edition.
While lacking the Before the Battle feature, the Blu-ray edition includes a feature called BonusView™ The Expendables: Ultimate Recon Mode, which, while I havn't seen as yet, provides an 'all access' account of making the film via a picture-in-picture option, including contributions from the cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage shedding light on how they constructed certain sequences in the film. From the Ashes is a post-production documentary looking at how Mr. Stallone approached the editing, sound-mixing, music scoring and test screening processes, and how this latter stage helped him go back and improve the film according to the test audience's feedback. Inferno is the documentary I wanted to see the most and contains an in-depth exploration making the film from start to finish. Almost in diary format, we follow Mr. Stallone from the first day working on the film to the very last, looking at all the problems and obstacles he had to overcome as well as providing insight into this obvious labour of love project. Also, I've heard a lot of good things about the quality of the HD transfer for the Blu-ray version, with crisp, clean images and speaker-busting explosions and gunfire audio, undoubtedly adding an extra dimension to the experience. In short, there is a great deal to enjoy here. If you had a blast with The Expendables, you won't want to pass up this opportunity to explore and learn more about the process of making the film. Even if you felt let down by the movie, there's a great deal of content here (especially spread across the 3-disc edition) to keep any action fan entertained, at least until the release of the Director's Cut - which will no doubt (at least according to comments by Mr. Stallone) provide an edgier interpretation and altogether different tone to this modern day, old-school action epic.
The Expendables is out on 13 December 2010 and available to pre-order now