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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Mercenary > Martial Arts > Space Opera > Drama > Science Fiction > Superhero > Expend4bles 4K (2023/Lionsgate 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Mandalorian: The Complete First Season (2019) + Second Season (2020/both Lucasfilm)/WandaVision: The Complete Series (2021/Marvel Comi

Expend4bles 4K (2023/Lionsgate 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/The Mandalorian: The Complete First Season (2019) + Second Season (2020/both Lucasfilm)/WandaVision: The Complete Series (2021/Marvel Comics/all series Disney Blu-ray Steelbook Sets)

4K Ultra HD Picture: B Picture: B-/B/B- Sound: B Extras: C/C+/C+ Main Programs: C/B-/B-

Next up are continuations of three successful franchises you have likely heard about lately. Here's more information on all of them...

Scott Waugh's Expend4bles 4K (2023) is the fourth and possibly final installment of the series, the most expensive of the four and has been the most commercially and critically disappointing, though it also has the problem of being made a little later than it should have been like the Jason Bourne and Matrix films. Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Andy Garcia, Tony Jaa, Megan Fox, 50 Cent, Randy Couture and mainstay Sylvester Stallone make up the latest all-star cast, but yet again one that very little great is realized from, though this is at least a tiny bit better than the last film, but that's not saying much.

The 'plot' here has something to do with a super deadly arms dealer having a super deadly armed fighting force and only these good guys can stop them. Too bad the screenplay is deadlier than the weapons of mass destruction. I was hoping that maybe, just maybe with the huge budget they had here (Stallone was here before with Rambo III if you think about it, but that bombed worse and cost way more money adjusted for inflation) would offer more than just bells and whistles. Well, forget it.

Maybe the most hardcore fans will enjoy what they get here, but save some of the hand-to-hand combat, this is a dull CGI-fest that goes on and on and on and on and on and on only with variations for star turns, reminding me of a bad 1970s disaster cycle film. Tony Jaa should be a much bigger star by now, but everyone here is just picking up a paycheck and all seem mostly very bored. You will probably feel the same way, especially after losing a few bucks and few hours of your life to this. Good luck if you still take it on.

Extras include Digital Copy, while the discs add a feature-length audio commentary track with Director Scott Waugh, Bigger, Bolder, Badder: The Expendables in Action, More Than a Team: New Blood Meets Old Blood and a Theatrical Trailer. For more on the films, try our Blu-ray coverage of the first film:


And the third:


The Mandalorian: The Complete First Season (2019) + Second Season (2020) has been one of the better post-Lucas Star Wars offerings, modeled after the colder, more cynical, sadder, angrier world of Rogue One before being a Jedi went from training and philosophy to some 'feel good' gibberish that has gone far too astray of the franchise and original trilogies. This one introduces a new Boba Fett-looking bounty hunter in the title character and the big surprise here was the introduction of another classic character: Baby Yoda aka Grogu.

He is not the Yoda of the original films, but the fusion and union of these two new characters is compelling enough and the two seasons are mostly consistent until they get to the final episode of the two seasons, just wrapping things up enough to work. To say anything more would be a spoiler, but these initial seasons work better than expected.

Extra on each two-disc set includes three Concept Art Cards and features artwork depicting the titular Mandalorian and Grogu, plus featurettes Forging The Covert (over two parts and the two sets,) Remnants Of The Empire on the first set and Designing The New Republic on the second. The two steelbooks also have some of the better artwork I have seen on such releases.

WandaVision: The Complete Series (2021) is the kind of risk Marvel was taking that kept therm on top and in the mode of why Marvel Studios was launched to begin with before formula and ill-advised politics (being made generic and thinking a new wave of commercial opportunities and profits were going to happen when the total opposite happened) ruined the most impressive commercial run until it did become like a non-cinematic, generic trip to a shopping mall.

This is the first time and second time ever the superhero genre has received black and white TV treatment since George Reeves' massively successful Adventures Of Superman series, in its early seasons, kicked in in 1951. Though this show is much more bizarre, it is not the most bizarre live action, black and white superhero material ever made. Just see the awful pilots the Reeves' Superman producers tried to launch for Superboy and especially Superpup, which is so hideous and horrendous that the genre would not see anything that horrible again until Black Adam!

Here, Scarlet Witch Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and The Vision (Paul Bettany) are suddenly living as husband and wife in a suburban house as happy middle/upper class suburban residents not very similar to how we have become accustomed to seeing them as, in love with each other and happy about everything... maybe too much so. As the show goes on, things start to slowly change and something is a bit amiss. A few people sited the overrated Peter Weir hit The Truman Show as reference, but the less-seen and more tolerable Peter Hyams comedy Stay Tuned with John Ritter and Pam Dawber caught in a Satanic cable company's alternative schedule of TV classics revamped in the most bizarre ways is somewhat more fitting.

Otherwise, you have to follow the shows from there and I do not want to spoil anything, but it is smart, clever, elaborate and something special and unexpected that it will go down as one of the rare twists in the genre (maybe like Spidey Super Stories on the original Electric Company) that is a break from the usual genre offerings. It also reminds us that the superhero genre had yet to fully form for decades before 1978 (Superman: The Movie) preceded by great success in movie serial chapter plays and both animated and live-action TV series. It will also be seen as the end of the original Marvel wave before it all got played out. It will take risks and innovative thinking to bring Marvel back, but WandaVision shows it is possible.

Extras include Concept Art Cards, while the discs add a Gag Reel, Deleted Scenes and two making of/behind the scenes featurettes: Through The Eras and Assembled: The Making Of WandaVision.

Now for playback performance. The 2160p HEVC/H.265, 2.35 X 1, Dolby Vision/HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on Expend4bles 4K is a bit disappointing for a film with such a large budget, the HD shoot softer and a little more off than it should be. All four films in the series are digital lensed, staring with 2K in the early films, so this is not the best-looking action series in cinema history by any means, but this should have looked a bit better and the 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image of the film extends the blur and other annoying flaws that should not be here and likely stopped it from being a bigger hit.

The lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) sound on both films is the same and only so good, kicking in for the action scenes, but still underwhelming overall. The combination in both cases just disappoints all around. No demo material here.

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on both Mandalorian seasons have a nice, consistent looks and the aspect ratio is supposed to conjure the feature films in the series, which is fine, but more so the Rogue One look than anything else. The show often has a slightly dark look, but it is not fake like so many other series and feature films in the genre, offering a solid image that impresses more than you might expect. Only some bad CGI here and there (including on a major character in the final scenes of the second season) are off, this still manages to be the best-looking release on the list.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white and various aspect ratios in color of WandaVision in digital High Definition is not bad, but a little soft here, where I am certain they would resolve better in the 4K edition from clips I have seen. Cheers to the producers for capturing the look and tone of those early TV classics (usually shot on 35mm black and white film, feel good/safe (and non-political) sitcoms did not get to videotape until the 1980s) and the rest of the shows look just fine, with decent color too.

Lossless Dolby Atmos 11.1 (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown for older systems) is on the 4K editions of the Disney series, all of which we hope to catch at some point, but all we get here are DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixdowns that are just fine for what they are, but you can just feel you are missing something, save the early WandaVision shows that are emulating early monophonic and then simple stereo TV sitcom classics.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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