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December 23 2014
The Expendables 3 Extended Cut Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
14/8/201411/12/2014Village RoadshowPatrick Hughes
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)

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Expendables 3 have some great action sequences.

It's fair to say that the release of Expendables 3 was one of the biggest news stories of the year. First of all the film was announced to be PG-13 in America - no doubt to try an capture a wider audience - but in doing so alienated fans of the older action stars who prefer action-packed R-rated fare.

Worse was to befall the picture however with a final version leaked and available through various means 3 weeks before release. It was a disaster that likely cost the film tens of millions of dollars. While the worldwide box office managed to hold up well with $US166 million (compared to $171 and $220 million for the first two films) in America the film pulled just over $39 million (compared to $103 and $85 million). Fortunately for the filmmakers this means the film will still turn a profit making a fourth film likely which will keep fans happy.

In The Expendables 3, Barney (Sylvester Stallone), Christmas (Jason Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill... or so he thought. Stonebanks, who eluded death once before, now is making it his mission to end The Expendables - but Barney has other plans. Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

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Barney Ross (Stallone) looking pissed off.
When The Expendables 3 hit cinemas it didn't take much to round up a bunch of my mates to see the film, and that we did. Ultimately we were disappointed - this was a very toned down film to the point that it became dull - where was the blood, the violence, the swearing. Fortunately, while it's not a gore-fest this Extended Cut of the film (which is around 5 minutes longer then the theatrical version) restores much of the violence as well as altering a few scenes.

As The Expendables filmmakers have always stated this is a franchise with old-school action, and while there is certainly a lot more CG then expected, this remains a franchise that puts gunplay above superhero styled action. The Expendables 3 has several fantastic set pieces which starts with a very entertaining opening sequence which sees a long-lost Expendable team member being rescued from a train. The ending is, well, just wow, with everything but the kitchen sink thrown at the team.

Where the film lost me a little bit was the massive number of cast members. Sure it's nice to see all the old guys rocking it on the big screen, but the inclusion of the younger team, while trying to draw in the younger audience, just becomes too much. I mean you are now talking about fourteen characters in The Expendables team now. In terms of the actual storyline, it's decent enough albeit nothing too refreshing or different but allows the setup of action sequences.

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Stallone and Statham return for The Expendables 3.
In terms of the older guys, pretty much everyone from the previous films makes a return here (except Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Jet Li until the last few moments), but the number of older guys has also been beefed up with the inclusion of Harrison Ford who has a much larger role then we expected, Antonio Banderas who's character Glago we thought was hilarious but who we can also see would annoy some, Wesley Snipes as Doc, and Mel Gibson as the evil Stonebanks. Another very left field inclusion in the mix is Kelsey Grammer as Bonaparte who is a friend of Barney and organizes the younger team members.

Speaking of the younger team, they are largely forgettable characters. Kellan Lutz (Twilight) plays a former Marine named John Smilee, MMA star Ronda Rousey plays the hard-assed bouncer Luna, Glen Powell, who was our favourite of the younger newcomers, plays tech expert Thron and boxer Victor Ortiz plays sharpshooter Mars. They're decent in their roles, but largely forgettable and lacking charisma like the older guys.

Ultimately, while the toned down violence and the oversized cast hurt this film, The Expendables 3 is still worth checking out if you enjoy the franchise. Oh, and it's great to see Wesley Snipes back on the screen after his stint locked away for tax evasion - remember that for a nice little joke in the film about it too!

The Expendables 3 comes to Blu-Ray with a pretty stellar AVC MPEG-4 encoded video in the films original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. As a major Hollywood production there is little to complain about with this release with fantastic levels of detail across the board, and plenty of fine detail during the frantic battle sequences.

If there are a couple of complaints it that the there are some visual effects that look very CG - primarily in the final battle - and the HD resolution of the Blu-Ray format probably doesn't assist that. Still, it's hard to mark down a transfer due to the source material. Occasionally too the colours look at little washed out, but that's probably intentional too.

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Harrison Ford has more screen time then expected.
Lionsgate have always lavished The Expendables films with a superb audio transfer but sadly this third outing has been scaled back for release in Australia (it's still a cracker release mind you). Where The Expendables 2 enjoyed a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track (which remixed to DTS Neo: X providing 11.1 support), The Expendables 3 is left languising with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track. Indeed, this is even more disappointing given the US release of the film includes a Dolby Atmos soundtrack (for speakers above you), or drops back to "only" Dolby TrueHD 7.1 if need be. Why do we miss out?!

Now don't get too disappointed however as this is still an absolutely cracker sonic experience with booming explosions, gunfire and action sequences but dialogue which has been given good prioritization which allows you to hear the characters talking at all times.

Beyond the primary audio track the Blu-Ray does contain an Audio Description track for the Vision Impaired encoded with Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224kbps which, understandably, isn't a patch on the lossless track. The disc also contains a single Descriptive Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired track for those that require it.

As with previous Blu-Rays in the franchise there is a decent smattering of extras included on this Blu-Ray for The Expendables 3. In fact, it appears that while our sound has been "downgraded" to a lesser format to Americans, we do get more extras, including a brilliant documentary which we'll start with...

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Now they're some big guns...
The Making of Expendables 3 (51:56/HD): This is a comprehensive look at the making of the film and is split up into sections called "The Director", "The Action", "The Location", "Working with Sly", "The Characters", "The Young Expendables", "The Icons", "The Schedule", "The 2014 Cannes Film Festival" and "The Franchise". This really is a fantastic look at the creation of this film, the people involved and contains plenty of interviews and on-set footage. Set aside an hour to watch this as it's worth the time.

New Blood: Stacked and Jacked (16:02/HD): As the title suggests this featurette focuses on the younger cast including Victor Ortiz, Kellan Lutz, Rhonda Rouses, Glen Powell and then the older actors including Antonio Banderas, Mel Gibson, . While they didn't do a lot for us in the actual film, it's nice to see the filmmakers bringing in some new, untested, talent into the mix.

Into The Battle: An Expendables 3 Video Diary (7:02/HD): More of a general look on-set at filming some of the scenes of the film. Not really a video diary as more of on-set footage during the shoot.

Real Action Heroes: Scrapes Not Capes (6:35/HD): Quite EPKish this featurette focuses on the "real" action heroes in this film, and not unrealistic characters with superpowers that can save the world.

Action For Hire (7:45/HD): Another short featurette focusing on filming the action sequences with stuntmen.

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Antonio Banderas as the funny/annoying Galgo.
The Total Action Package (6:40/HD): Another EPKish piece with plenty of on-set footage with and comments from ths stars in the film. Too much praising of one another, but it's worth looking once.

Gag Reel (5:41/HD): Yep, it's a gag reel with goofing around on set and fluffed lines.

Christmas Runs The Gauntlet - Extended Scene (2:45/HD): A slightly extended sequence from one included in the film.

The Expendables 3 was a missfire for the franchise primarily due to the toned down violence, and too many new characters - especially the younger ones - but for fans of the aging action heros there is certainly enough here to warrant grabbing this technically polished Blu-Ray.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.