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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Comedy > Thriller > Weather > Monster > Creature > Myth > Norway > Kidnapping > Adoption > The Expendables 3 (2014/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Into The Storm (2014/New Line/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Ragnarock (2013/Magnolia/Magnet Blu-ray)/Reclaim (2014/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

The Expendables 3 (2014/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD)/Into The Storm (2014/New Line/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Ragnarock (2013/Magnolia/Magnet Blu-ray)/Reclaim (2014/Lionsgate Blu-ray)

Picture: B- & C/B- & C+/B-/B- Sound: B & C+/B- & C+/B/C+ Extras: C- Films: D/D/C/C-

And now for another edition of when action films go wrong!!!

Patrick Hughes' The Expendables 3 (2014) is the third and allegedly final feature film in one of the most cynical, lame franchises ever. With missed-opportunities galore, Sylvester Stallone signs up just about anyone old or new who was with the action genre or might be, but most are veterans who look bored as anything. This also means some of them (Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford) are grossly underused (no wonder Bruce Willis skipped this one) and it is generally a mess with an awful script, bad acting (even for the ones we expect no real acting from!), bad action sequences, some of the worst digital visuals I have suffered though in a while and Mel Gibson looking almost too ill to be here.

It's like Ocean's 11 on steroids and a useless, witless script (making it fit with Ocean's 13) and it goes on and on and on and on for over two hours. We would have been better off with a cable special where someone here was roasted. Instead, it is the audience who gets burned!

Extras include a Gag Reel that is far better than the feature and three dull Making Of featurettes, one of which tries to pass itself off as a documentary.

Steven Quale's Into The Storm (2014) is an attempt to find people who may not have seen Twister and try to impress them with digital tornadoes and cyclones, because the script here will impress no one and despite all the advanced in digital CGI animation since the older film, this still looks like effects to sell vacuum cleaners! The cast of mostly unknowns at least are not as bad as they might be in the Canadian TV versions of such nonsense (Sharknado anyone?) that land up on U.S. cable as a joke. This too is a joke, but not totally as generic... just mostly so. Yawn!

Extras include Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes capable devices, while the Blu-ray adds three dull Making Of featurettes.

Mikkel B. Sandemose's Ragnarock (2013) comes from Norway and is formulaic ripoff of everything Spielberg, Cameron and the like have done with adventurous monster films, but at least the cast is somewhat likable and it is allegedly of a mythological monster from Norwegian mythos (the title character), so that is enough to make it the best of the four duds here. Too bad it did not offer more than a name-than-tune remake set of scenes and shots from played out Hollywood action films. I thought the ending was lame too. Fantasy genre fans may be amused when it tires to look like the Lord Of The Rings and Hobbit films, showing the writers threw in everything but the kitchen sink... and new ideas. Ahh... but that makes it better than the Sharknado films... I guess.

Extras include BD Live interactive functions, a brief, quiet making of featurette showing the visual effects and an Original Theatrical Trailer.

Last and almost least is Alan White's Reclaim (2014), a child-in-jeopardy film where Ryan Phillippe and Rachel Leferve play a loving couple who go to a third-world country to adopt a young lady who is promptly kidnapped. John Cusack is the man who arranges the adoption since the couple cannot wait, but he may know more than he is saying and Jacki Weaver shows up as a woman with something to hide. It was not a good script, however. I liked the actors, but this is a mess, lame, unsuspenseful and is not very convincing even in the earliest scenes. A shame, this could have been something different and better had the makers tried. Oh well.

Trailers for other releases, A Music Video, director feature length audio commentary, cast/crew interviews, Behind The Scenes featurette, Deleted/Extended Scenes and Digital Copy are the extras.

All four releases are HD shoots with styling that is slightly dark and with limits in detail at times, from the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Expendables and Ragnarok to the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on Storm and Reclaim. The sloppiest digital visuals are on Expendables with its anamorphically enhanced the poorest performer on the list, while Storm simply overdoes them, but its anamorphically enhanced DVD version is a little better by comparison. Reclaim is not as overdone, but still phony, if not sloppy for the most part, so Reclaim is the best shoot by default.

Though it was a simple Dolby Digital theatrical release, Expendables has been upgraded to an 11.1 Dolby Atmos mix, though it is Dolby TrueHD 5.1 otherwise and it shows. This was not designed for that many channels and very inconsistently performs to that level, not even as well as Step Up: All In and definitely not the fourth Transformers film. As a result, the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on the remaining Blu-rays do not suffer as badly, but only Ragnarok is its equal, with Storm not having as good a soundfield as either and Reclaim especially coming up short sonically. The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the Expendables and Storm DVDs can actually compete with the DTS-MA on Reclaim as a result.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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