Blu-ray
Highly Recommended
4.5 stars
List Price
$7.99
Amazon
$5.99 (25%)
3rd Party
$3.95
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»
Overall Grade
4.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
4 Stars
HD Video Quality
4.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
Supplements
3.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
Highly Recommended

The Expendables 3

Street Date:
November 25th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
November 23rd, 2014
Movie Release Year:
2014
Studio:
Lionsgate
Length:
127 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Say what you will about a cast of 80s action stars whose average age is over 55, but they can all still pack a powerful punch and kick all sorts of ass. I’m here to say that ‘The Expendables 3‘ is loads of fun, with some good laughs, decent action scenes, and seven solid one-liners. With a movie like ‘Expendables 3‘, you have to walk into theater knowing what to expect. If you go in expecting something with a lot of depth and meaning, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you walk in expecting a fun thrill ride full of explosions, an impressive body count, and seeing your favorite action stars ham it up on the big screen, then you'll feel like you've won the lottery.

It’s good to see that Sylvester Stallone and his crew have finally realized what this ‘Expendables‘ franchise can be. Instead of trying to make a serious action movie, they've learned that poking fun at each other and having a ball with the cast, script, and action really go a long way towards delivering a much better viewing experience. For example, they break the “fourth” wall quite a bit here with this third sequel, whether it be newcomer to the franchise Wesley Snipes saying he has been imprisoned for tax evasion or Stallone scouting a new possible member of his Elite team, who is rock climbing, and saying, “I can do that.” (in reference to ‘Cliffhanger‘), it’s all here for our enjoyment and pleasure.

And producer Avi Lerner has no intention of slowing things down ‘Expendable’ wise, as a 4th and 5th installment have already been greenlit with former 007 Bond actor Pierce Brosnan and Hulk Hogan announcing their involvement in future sequels. This third film starts off very well, as we see our ‘Expendables‘ (Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture) fly in via helicopter armed with giant machine guns, and boarding a fast moving train, loaded with bad guys. Given the first PG-13 rating for an ‘Expendables’ movie, this first scene has about 30 deaths. Sure you won’t see blood and guts too much, but the violence is there and it is brutal.

Stallone and his team are there to rescue Wesley Snipes, who has been imprisoned for many years, who was a former original member of ‘The Expendables‘ whose expertise were knives and being a medic. The next scene has the team plus Snipes head out on a job right away, which goes haywire when the big bad villain Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), a ruthless arms dealer shows up, leaving one of ‘The Expendables’ in bad shape. This prompts Stallone to get real angry, tell his team to lead a good life, and leave the Expendables, then enlist the help of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and ask Harrison Ford to journey out again and take out Mel Gibson.

When Stallone gets the okay, he realizes he needs more people than just himself, so he figures out that he is too old to do it alone and he scouts out his friend Kelsey Grammer (a hilarious drunk jokester) to find new young recruits for his team including Kellan Lutz, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Ronda Rousey, and the best character of the film Antonio Banderas. No matter what happens during the middle of the film, it all leads up to the small ‘Expendables’ team fighting Mel Gibson and his army of 500 bad guys in tanks, planes, and vehicles. And it does not disappoint. Director Patrick Hughes hasn’t done much, only a couple of short films, but Stallone must have seen something in him an gave him this impressive job. Hughes knows his way around an action scene and instead of quick cutting every second and a half, he allows the camera to fully focus on each actor’s ability to handle a gun or do their marital arts. This comes into play specifically with Snipes and Rousey, which is always good to see.

I can now see why the studio wants Hughes to direct the American remake of ‘The Raid‘. Sure, some of the dialogue is cheesy and has no meaning, but there are some genuine moments and you can see they are all trying. But the scenes with Stallone and Grammer pack some great laughs as it seems Grammer was just messing with Stallone and trying to make him laugh the entire time. Their chemistry is spot on. And then there is the always impressive actor Antonio Banderas, whose character, Galgo is basically modeled after a 13 year old boy who gets his wish to star in a movie with all of his favorite action stars. It’s too funny. Mel Gibson plays the bad guy perfectly and I wish he would take on darker roles in the future.

‘The Expendables 3‘ won’t win any awards nor will it change the filmmaking game, but you’ll definitely have loads of fun with this movie. And to hear Schwarzenegger yell “Get to da Choppa” again satisfied my 13-year old self so much that I nearly passed out. That all being said, Mr. Stallone – Please include Bruce Campbell in your next installment of ‘The Expendables’. Thank you in advance.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'The Expendables 3' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. This action film looks mighty impressive on all fronts. This has a crystal clear image with excellent detail and clarity. However, by having this digital look to it, the big bad CG effects don't look as real as they could, but that is really the only gripe I have with this video presentation. Detail is very vivid in both closeups and wide shots. Closeups show every wrinkle, scar, wound, and individual hair on these aging action star's faces.

You can even see some of the plastic surgery Stallone has had over the years quite well. Their tactical gear reveals some fine stitching and background props and sets look amazing, giving the picture some real depth when there is no CG background. Colors pop off screen at all times, whether they are in a green field or the blue sky. All colors are well saturated and look realistic. Skin tones are always natural and never seem murky and the black levels are very deep and inky. There are zero instances of banding, aliasing, and motion blur throughout, giving this video presentation top marks.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

7.1 Dolby TrueHD - 5 Stars

This release comes with an outstanding Dolby Atmos audio presentation, but since I haven't upgraded to Atmos yet, the audio automatically changes to a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio option, and it sound amazing. If you want to read about the Dolby Atmos sound, scroll down a tiny bit and check out Michael S. Palmer's review. The 7.1 audio is quite impressive. This action film is full of gun shots, explosions, cars, planes, trains, boats, and fighting. I mean, what do you expect from an 'Expendables' film? The sound effects are clear, loud, and very robust. The surrounds pump the sound constantly, which fully immerses you into each gun battle and fight scene.

There is some excellent directionality here as well. the gun shots fly by with precise timing and the explosions will rattle your walls and insides quite nicely, and are never overly done. The ambient noises of nature and people chattering at times also sound full. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, even with Stallone's thick accent of gibberish. The score is epic and fun, which always adds to the suspenseful and funny situations these guys get into, while never drowning out any of the dialogue or sound effects. The LFE is magnificent and the dynamic range is extremely wide, leaving this audio presentation with top marks.

Dolby Atmos - 5 Stars

For this portion of the review, we took a field trip to Dolby Laboratories in Burbank, CA to watch this Blu-ray in the company's "Home Theatre" room on commercially available equipment anyone can purchase right now. 

This 7.1.4 Atmos configuration included four KEF R700 towers (front L&R and rear L&R) topped with four KEF R50 Atmos Enabled speaker modules (two pairs of stereo height channels), one KEF R600c center channel, one pair of KEF T301 side surrounds, an M&K MX-350 sub, a Denon AVR-X5200 9-channel Atmos AV Reciever, and one 2-channel ART SLA-1 amp (to power the rear speaker modules). 

All in, if you were to buy a similar setup, you'd be looking to spend just over $17,000 on audio gear alone (display and Blu-ray player not included, sorry). There are more affordable options to achieve 7.1.4, and other ways to configure Atmos with fewer speakers, but having finally heard 7.1.4, I'm convinced this is the format's optimum configuration for all but the smallest listening environments. Most interestingly, while we watched the entire film using the speaker modules (bouncing the height channels off a flat-surface ceiling), we did also demo a few scenes in another room with actual in-ceiling speakers. To my ears, it was the exact same aural experience.

The Expendables 3 is the third Dolby Atmos Blu-ray to hit the streets. The object audio based Dolby Atmos surround mix features individual sounds that fly around the room from ear level speakers to height speakers, creating a hemispherical sense of immersion. Dolby Atmos employs metadata to fold down all of the audio objects into a 7.1, 5.1 or stereo Dolby TrueHD surround experience (depending, of course on your systems configuration). Meaning non-Atmos listeners still get to hear all of the same sound effects and music cues, just without the added height. Blu-ray re-recording mixers check these folded-down 7.1, 5.1 and 2.0 Atmos derived mixes for quality.

Okay, this has probably been the longest preamble to the audio portion of a Blu-ray review ever, but since this is a new format, one that is customizeable, I wanted to clear about every detail. Feel free to ask questions in the comments; I'll try to check in and answer when/if I can.

Bottom line: 'The Expendables 3' offers up a premium Dolby Atmos soundmix that is the best way to experience this Blu-ray, hands down.

While the movie brims with chaotic action sequences, this fantastic track is exceptionally focused. From planes and helicopters to bombs and bullets, there are so many little intricacies to this audio environment. Panning effects are precise, wonderfully aggressive, and boast an exceptionally wide dynamic range. LFE also packs a sublime punch. Even the musical score is wider and taller. And, while it's definitely loud, unlike the 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' experience, nothing was ever lost and my ears never tired.

This Blu-ray's near-field Atmos re-recording mixer, Tim Hoogenakker, was on hand to describe his process of making sure the theatrical mix doesn't overload home cinema environments. That means 1) controlling overall volume, 2) ensuring LFE doesn't become boomy noise, and most importantly 3) guaranteeing we the audience can always hear dialog. 'The Expendables 3' boats exceptionally clear dialog even in the most chaotic sequences

My most anticipated forthcoming Atmos Blu-ray is the Feburary 'Gravity' re-release, despite the lack of 3D (boo!), but 'The Expendables 3' in Dolby Atmos is simply stunning. Reference in quality. Demonstration worthy all the way. Yes, there isn't that much to compare with yet, but as previously written, home entertainment Atmos often equals its theatrical predecessor.

Oh, and a heads up to retailers like Best Buy installing Atmos demo rooms. You want to sell Atmos gear? You want to hook the next generation of audio guys? Play 'The Expendables 3' Blu-ray's opening four minutes, and anywhere in the final thirty.  (step 4: profit)

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Theatrical and Unrated Version (HD, 127 Mins./131 Mins.) - The unrated version has a few extra and extended scenes, none of which are any bloodier than the PG-13 version.

'The Expendables 3' Documentary (HD, 52 Mins.) - Here is a fun and extensive behind the scenes look at the making of the film. There are tons of cast and crew interviews mixed with a treasure trove of on set footage that covers the stunt work, fight choreography, characters, and more. Looks like everyone had a great time on set, which makes this a lot of fun to watch.

New Blood: Stacked and Jacked (HD, 17 Mins.) - Here is some similar stuff from the above extra, but this one focuses more on the new young cast members. Cast and crew interviews are here along with some on set footage. Worth the watch.

Total Action Package (HD, 7 Mins.) - This bonus feature centers on the stunts and visual effects of the film. Cast and crew interviews mix with on set footage that showcase a lot of wire work and green screen. This was quite fun to watch and see how they did the big set pieces.

Gag Reel (HD, 3 Mins.) - Here is a fun blooper reel with everyone missing their cues, flubbing lines, and a lot of laughter on the set. Pretty funny.

Extended Scene: Christmas Runs the Gauntlet (HD, 3 Mins.) - Here is an extended scene of one of Jason Statham's scene where he takes out a bunch of bad guys.

Trailers (HD, 11 Mins.) - Trailers for other films from Lionsgate.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives.

Final Thoughts

'The Expendables 3' is a lot of fun the third time around. They finally found their footing and knew what type of movie to make rather than trying to be serious all the time. The result is a highly entertaining and very funny movie. The action is great and seeing all of these excellent action stars from our childhood is a riot, not to mention so much fun. The video, as well as the Dolby Atmos audio presentation, are both top notch. The extras are all worth watching and informative as well. If you're looking for a fun time with a big and entertaining action movie with tons of 80's movie stars, then I highly recommend 'The Expendables 3'.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy
  • Theatrical & Unrated

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English Dolby Atmos
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, Spanish

Supplements

  • The Expendables 3 Documentary
  • "New Blood: Stacked and Jacked" Featurette
  • "The Total Action Package" Featurette
  • "Christmas Runs the Gauntlet" Extended Scene
  • Gag Reel

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

List Price
$7.99
Amazon
$5.99 (25%)
3rd Party
$3.95
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»

Related reviews