The fully-loaded, high-octane, throwback action franchise The Expendables fires a full clip at a new 4-Film 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray SteelBook collection. Exclusive to Walmart from Lionsgate, the set offers up eight discs packed tight in a beautifully adorned case letting fans enjoy every grunt, quip, and explosion each film has to offer. If you don’t own the series yet, this is the way to go. If you’re a SteelBook collector, this one might be too good to resist. For Fans Only
As we’ve previously covered all of the films individually, I’ll keep my thoughts short for this segment. I have to admit, I’m a fan of the series. Well, most of them at least. When Sly Stallone announced he was gearing up for a full-loaded throwback action franchise bringing back his best friends from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and new friends of the ‘00s, I was all in. Stallone was in great form coming off his relaunches of Rocky Balboa and Rambo so it felt like the right fit for the action star.
And it turned out The Expendables was a pretty good show. Not the greatest film ever made, but it aimed for a goal, took its shot, and largely hit the mark. Stallone was a great pairing with Statham. Dolph Lundgren got to show he’s still a formidable star with Jet li throwing a few fast punches and one-liners with the rest of the gang. By the end, it was a fun diverting way to spend some cash at the theater and I was up for more.
As things went along, the franchise never really hit great heights but stayed fun. The Expendables 2 was a little sharper with the action and got to bring Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger fully into the bullet ballet. Who knew a cameo from Chuck Norris would be one of the best moments of the film? The Expendables 3 was pretty good, but the frustrating need to neuter it to try and attract a PG-13 audience cut the guts right out of it. Even the “unrated” version isn’t that graphic compared to the previous films. But Harrison Ford looked like he was having a great time flying that helicopter and Mel Gibson made a pretty great bad guy.
Then we came to The Expend4bles, possibly several years too late acting as the franchise stepsibling of sorts. The only one to be a complete financial disaster barely making back half its budget on the global haul, it was too little too late to resuscitate the languishing franchise. Maybe the world moved on from what the series had to offer. Maybe it was the lack of Stallone in action that kept audiences away. The reviews weren’t kind for any of the films but critics had the knives out for this one. Now I don’t think this movie is altogether terrible or unwatchable, but it’s a weak link with laughably bad PS3-era visual effects. The cast looks like they’re having fun, but that’s not enough to save the show. If someone gets the gumption for a fifth film, I hope they take the time to give it a reason to exist rather than try to just cash in on an IP.
Here’s coverage for each individual film:
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
The Expendables 1-4 arrives in a fancy new SteelBook from Lionsgate exclusively sold at Walmart. All of the discs inside the case are identical to the ones available in the previous single-title releases. The only difference between these Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs and the others is the artwork on the discs themselves. Otherwise, it’s the same Blu-ray and 4K that may already be in your collection if you’ve been buying these. While I enjoy SteelBooks, I’m not an avid collector only picking up a few here and there, but this set is a terrific work of art. The slipcover accent with the new custom art is dynamite. This is the kind of piece that would be hard for fans not to spring for. Also included is a digital copy slip for all four films in one code.
As we’ve already covered these films previously, there’s nothing really new to report here. See the reviews linked above. The only film of the series we didn’t review at the time of release in 4K was The Expendables 3 and overall it’s an alright disc, but not a show-stopper. Most of the time details are razor sharp and all around terrific with nice clean lines and textures. The issue I have with it mostly rests on the HDR grade where blacks are just frustratingly inconsistent veering from striking deep and inky to muddy gray/brown - and it’s all the more apparent when you look at the included Blu-ray. It’s even weirder when you look at it compared to the original two films which saw some modest gains in 4K over their respective 1080p counterparts. The Expendables 3 is the outlier for the 4K transfers.
Now, I wouldn’t say The Expendables franchise has been a great one, but I would call it a fun ride. Maybe it rested a little too heavily on convention and the waning star power glair of our favorite aged action heroes to be genuinely unique, but they’re entertaining enough. Not the kind of favorites I’d pull out often but I like knowing they’re on the shelf. Now for fans looking to add all four films to the collections in one go, Lionsgate and Walmart have given you one hell of a great option to consider. This SteelBook set is a real beauty. The art is fantastic and the set is a great piece for the collection and you get 4K and Blu-ray discs all in one go. Even if you’ve already bought a couple in the past (guilty as charged, here), this set is damned tempting even if there’s nothing new in the soup. To that end, since it really only appeals to the people all in for this series - For Fans Only