‘Expendables 4-Film Collection’ Due in Blu-ray Combo Pack March 5

The Expendables 4-Film Collection arrives on Blu-ray (plus DVD plus digital) March 5 from Lionsgate.

The action franchise has earned more than $780 million at the box office.

This bundle, which features four art cards, includes all four films in “The Expendables” franchise. In The Expendables, the elite mercenaries (Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham) are caught in a web of betrayal and deceit when they’re hired by a shady operative (Bruce Willis) to overthrow a South American dictator. In The Expendables 2, a deranged arms dealer (Jean-Claude Van Damme) turns the team’s (Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren) easy paycheck into a tragedy, while The Expendables 3 pits old school vs. new blood when Barney Ross and his team (Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford) square off against a longtime foe (Mel Gibson). In Expend4bles, a new group of mercenaries (50 Cent, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa) joins the “old guard” to help fight an arms dealer with his own private army.

Each title includes myriad special features.

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The Expendables 4

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 11/21/23;
Lionsgate;
Action;
Box Office $16.71 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $42.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘R’ for strong/bloody violence throughout, language and sexual material.
Stars Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Randy Couture, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, Andy Garcia.

The first “Expendables” film in 2010 offered the intriguing premise of assembling a team of action all-stars as a paramilitary mercenary squad tasked with carrying out dangerous international missions. Subsequent installments expanded the roster to an almost absurd level of action talent, even if some of the bigger stars were basically relegated to cameos. The box office underperformance of the third film in 2014, however left some doubt as to the sustainability of the franchise.

Thus, despite receiving a theatrical release and a comprehensive marketing campaign, The Expendables 4 (or Expend4bles in the parlance of Hollywood’s cutesy naming conventions) almost feels like one of those direct-to-video franchise extensions that used to be more prevalent in the heyday of DVD.

At least they dragged out a few of its geriatric regulars to try to justify its existence, though a majority of the cast ends up being sidelined for most of the movie, turning it for the most part into just another Jason Statham action vehicle.

The story involves Statham’s Lee Christmas character seeking revenge when a member of the Expendables is killed during a botched mission to stop terrorists from gaining access to nuclear weapons. When Christmas is benched by the Expendables’ new CIA handler (Andy Garcia) on the subsequent mission to stop the terrorists from using the stolen nukes to ignite World War III, he decides to go anyway, which comes in handy when the rest of the team is captured.

Statham does his best to carry the proceedings across the finish line, but he isn’t given much to work with. The screenplay is saddled with trite dialogue, stilted performances and plot twists that, while predictable, ultimately don’t make a lot of sense.

Though billed at 103 minutes, the story manages to resolve itself in just over an hour and a half, leaving a whopping 11 minutes of credits.

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Expend4bles might offer a few moments of enjoyment for the franchise’s most ardent fans, but this is clearly a franchise that is a shell of its former self.

The bulk of the action takes place in two extended set pieces — first a chemical weapons plant in Libya, then a barge transporting the nukes to be detonated off the coast of Russia. It’s amusing to see the producers in the bonus materials talk about wanting to film “real” action in order to live up to the reputation of the franchise, when the final product looks like it was passed through a CGI filter.

This may be a case where the need for a ultra-high-definition presentation didn’t do the film any favors, as the visual effects look so clean they might as well be from a video game, rather than have the kind of gritty look a film like this needs. Too many close-ups of the actual stars in the middle of stunts look like obvious process shots.

The director for this installment is Scott Waugh, whose previous works include 2012’s Act of Valor, an actioner that employs the gimmick of casting real Navy SEALs, and the recent Hidden Strike, the Jackie Chan-John Cena team-up filmed in 2018 that was shelved for five years before surfacing on Netflix.

The Blu-ray includes a solo commentary track from Waugh, as well as two behind-the-scenes featurettes: the 17-minute “Bigger, Bolder, Badder: The Expendables in Action” about the stunts, and the 19-minute “More Than a Team: New Blood Meets Old Blood” about the cast. Also included is the film’s theatrical trailer. The extras are included on both the 4K disc and the regular Blu-ray of the film.

A Steelbook collection of all four “Expendables” films on both Blu-ray and 4K disc is available at Walmart for $69.99.

Walmart exclusive “Expendables” collection Steelbook

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 8/1/23;
Disney/Marvel;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $358.95 million;
$29.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for intense sequences of violence and action, strong language, suggestive/drug references and thematic elements.
Stars Chris Pratt, Zoë Saldaña, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Maria Bakalova, Linda Cardellini, Nathan Fillion, Sylvester Stallone.

The release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 represents the end of an era for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With writer-director James Gunn jumping ship to lead rival DC’s production slate, the MCU loses one of its strongest creative voices, and the results are becoming evident.

As the MCU flounders trying to regain the narrative momentum it had prior to Avengers: Endgame, Gunn’s concluding chapter to his “Guardians” trilogy caps off what is probably Marvel’s last reliable sub-franchise in terms of consistent quality. (Losing a key player off the bench should make Disney all-the-more desperate to secure a deal with Sony for more Tom Holland “Spider-Man” movies, but time will tell).

Picking up after last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, Gunn’s latest tale of the ragtag group of offbeat interstellar adventurers delves into the backstory of the wisecracking talking raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper). Rocket turns out to be the result of the cruel experiments of the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji), a megalomaniacal geneticist cursed with delusions of godhood who dreams of creating perfect societies. As Rocket was his only creation to ever develop the gift of technological inventiveness, the Evolutionary wants to study him to learn how to use that spark of insight to create the perfect life form.

However, when Rocket is critically injured by the efforts of the Evolutionary’s minions to capture him, the Guardians’ only hope to save him is to steal the Evolutionary’s proprietary technology, setting up a cataclysmic final battle that could destroy the entire team.

The premise provides not only for some emotional character dynamics, but allows Gunn to indulge his penchants for inventive but unconventional visual designs. The film is equal parts bright and colorful and gooey and grotesque, providing for a splendid 4K experience. And of course there are plenty of opportunities for laughs despite the heavy subject matter.

The “Guardians” movies are also known for their iconic needle-drop soundtracks of classic 1970s rock, and while the third film isn’t as memorable in that regard, it still offers a great array of tunes, this time expanding the selection into the 2000s.

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Gunn in the bonus materials delves into how each film in the trilogy relates to the theme of family. With Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord’s mother and father weighing heavily on the events of the first two films as the Guardians come together to form their own ersatz family unit, the third film deals with each coming to terms with their own sense of self — particularly Rocket, whose story is told in flashbacks as he lies dying on a medical bed.

The highlight of the extras is the full-length commentary with Gunn, who provides a lot of insight into the story and characters, and how much it meant for him to be able to close out a franchise that has defined his life for a decade.

Fans will also be interested in checking out the deleted scenes. There are eight included on the Blu-ray, each running about a minute. They include a number of interesting character interactions, including what might be Kraglin’s funniest line (as delivered by James’ brother Sean Gunn) in the series. Also included is the cameo appearance by Pete Davidson that was ultimately cut for stalling the momentum of the final act (the commentary details how Davidson ended up being given a CGI alien head after his dialogue was cut).

There’s also a fun five-minute gag reel, and two behind-the-scenes featurettes that contextualize the making of the film within the trilogy as a whole. The nine-and-a-half-minute “Creating Rocket Raccoon” looks at the process of bringing the character to life, while the 11-minute “The Imperfect, Perfect Family” focuses on the legacy of all the characters.

All told, the behind-the-scenes footage is a bit sparse considering what was being released online during the film’s theatrical run. And it would have been nice if the studio found a way to include the Holiday Special as part of the package, given how much it sets up this film. But maybe it will find its way onto disc eventually as part of a “Guardians” boxed set, since keeping it relegated to a Disney+ exclusive just accentuates the hole that exists in fans’ physical media collections.

‘The Expendables’ Trilogy to Bow in 4K UHD Steelbooks Sept. 5 Exclusively at Best Buy

Lionsgate will released The Expendables, The Expendables 2 and The Expendables 3 in exclusive 4K Ultra HD (plus Blu-ray and digital) Steelbooks at Best Buy on Sept. 5.

“The Expendables” films star Sylvester Stallone (who also directed the first entry in the series) along with such other other action icons as Jason Statham, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Harrison Ford. The series follows a group of combat vets turned mercenaries delivering justice the only way they know how. 

In The Expendables, Stallone stars as Barney Ross, leader of The Expendables, a tight-knit team of skilled combat vets turned mercenaries. Hired by a powerful covert operator, the team jets off to a small South American country to overthrow a ruthless dictator. Once there, they find themselves caught in a deadly web of deceit and betrayal. Using every weapon at their disposal, they set out to save the innocent and punish the guilty in this blistering action-packed thriller.

Special features include an introduction to the film by Stallone; Spike TV’s “Action: The Expendables”; “Inferno: The Making of The Expendables“; the “Sylvester Stallone: A Director in Action” featurette; and the “Sinner’s Prayer” music video by Sully Erna.

In The Expendables 2, the group signs on for a mission that looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But things quickly go wrong, and one of their own is killed by a psychotic terrorist-for-hire. Hell-bent on payback, they cut a swath of destruction through enemy territory and wreak havoc upon their opponents. In the midst of the mayhem, they must also shut down an unexpected threat in the nick of time — preventing five tons of weapons-grade plutonium from falling into the wrong hands.

Special features include audio commentary with director Simon West, “Gods of War: Assembling Earth’s Mightiest Antiheroes”; “Big Guns, Bigger Heroes: The 1980s and the Rise of the Action Film”; “On the Assault: The Real-Life Weaponry of The Expendables”; “Guns for Hire: The Real Expendables”; deleted scenes; and the gag reel.

In The Expendables 3, Barney faces off with an old enemy and must fight old blood with new blood, bringing in a new era of Expendables who are younger and faster. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in The Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

Special features include the theatrical version; the unrated edition of the film (Blu-ray only); the Expendables 3 documentary; the “New Blood: Stacked and Jacked” featurette; the “The Total Action Package” featurette; the gag reel; and the “Christmas Runs The Gauntlet” extended scene.

Season One of ‘Tulsa King’ Headed to DVD, Blu-ray June 6

Paramount Home Entertainment will release season one of the comedy series “Tulsa King,” starring Sylvester Stallone, on DVD and Blu-ray Disc June 6. A limited-edition Blu-ray Steelbook also will be available.

The season will also be available to buy digitally April 10.

The series is currently streaming on Paramount+.

Created by Academy Award nominee Taylor Sheridan, who also serves as executive producer alongside Academy Award  nominee and Emmy Award winner Terence Winter, the series stars Stallone as Dwight “The General” Manfredi, a mafia capo who has just been released from prison after 25 years and is unceremoniously exiled by his boss to set up shop in Tulsa, Okla. Realizing that his mob family may not have his best interests in mind, Dwight slowly builds a crew from a group of unlikely characters to help him establish a new criminal empire in a place that to him might as well be another planet.

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In addition to Stallone, the first season stars Andrea Savage (“I’m Sorry”), Martin Starr (“Silicon Valley”), Jay Will (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Max Casella (The Tender Bar), Domenick Lombardozzi (The Irishman), Vincent Piazza (“Boardwalk Empire”), A.C. Peterson (“Superman & Lois”) with Garrett Hedlund (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Dana Delany (“Body of Proof”).

In addition to all nine episodes, the release includes more than 90 minutes of bonus content, in which the cast and crew discuss the different dynamics of the show’s plot and setting and working with Sylvester Stallone. The extras also take a closer look at how costume design enhances the characters, look into the planning of the action-packed and safe stunts, and explore the differences between shooting in Brooklyn and Tulsa.

Stallone Actioner ‘Cliffhanger’ Getting 4K Ultra HD Steelbook May 30 for 30th Anniversary

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the 1993 Sylvester Stallone action film Cliffhanger in a 4K Ultra HD Steelbook May 30 for its 30th anniversary.

Stallone, John Lithgow, Michael Rooker, Janine Turner and Ralph Waite star in the high-altitude thriller. In the film, Gabe Walker (Stallone) of Rocky Mountain Rescue embarks on a mission to locate five climbers. With the woman he loves (Turner) and his best friend (Rooker), Walker braves the icy peaks only to discover that the distress call is really a trap set by merciless international terrorist Eric Qualen (Lithgow). Millions of dollars and their own lives hang in the balance. Against explosive firepower, bitter cold and dizzying heights, Walker must outwit Qualen in a deadly game of hide-and-seek.

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Special features on the 4K disc include deleted scenes. Extras on Blu-ray (included in the combo pack) include commentary with director Renny Harlin and Stallone; technical crew commentary; “A Personal Introduction from Renny Harlin”; deleted scenes with director intro; “Stallone on the Edge: The Making of Cliffhanger“; a special effects featurette; storyboard comparisons; and the theatrical trailer.

First Four ‘Rocky’ Movies Arrive on 4K Disc Feb. 28 From MGM and Warner

MGM and Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment Feb. 28 will release the first four “Rocky” films on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc for the first time as Rocky: The Knockout Collection.

The franchise stars Sylvester Stallone as an underdog boxer from Philadelphia who gets an unlikely shot at superstardom.

The collection includes the MGM feature films Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III and Rocky IV, along with the Rocky IV ultimate director’s cut Rocky vs. Drago on 4K discs with Dolby Vision HDR.

The collection also contains access to digital versions of the films, plus a Blu-ray disc featuring the hour-long behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the extended director’s cut of Rocky IV as well as a selection of previously existing bonus materials. 

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Paramount+ Bows Super Bowl LVII Ad Touting New Sylvester Stallone Family Reality Series

Paramount+ Feb. 2 announced that the new docuseries “The Family Stallone,” starring Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone, wife Jennifer Flavin Stallone and daughters Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet, will premiere exclusively on the service this spring in the U.S. and Canada. The eight-part series will roll out in additional international markets this year. 

Stallone is apparently ready to give cameras access to what he would consider the greatest role of his lifetime: dad. This series offers a seat at the table of one of Hollywood’s most famous families.

While he headlines box office movies and takes a foray into episodic programming (“Tulsa King”), at home Stallone is focused on building for the future and raising three independent and ambitious women.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jennifer is a savvy businesswoman and co-owner of the wellness brand Serious Skin Care.

As the eldest of the three Stallone daughters, Sophie has no interest in following in her father’s acting footsteps. Although Sophia currently hosts a podcast, “Unwaxed,” alongside her sister Sistine, she is still finding her path in life and focusing on her passions.

An actress and model, Sistine is embarking on a new journey as a filmmaker and is currently in development on her first feature film.

The youngest of the Stallone sisters, Scarlet is moving into her own apartment at college. She has been set on following in her father’s footsteps and becoming an actress since she was a child, and is now appearing alongside her father on “Tulsa King.”


‘Tulsa King’ Greenlighted for Season Two After Strong Premiere

Paramount Global has greenlighted a second season of the Sylvester Stallone series “Tulsa King” after it topped yearly linear cable series debuts and drove Paramount+ its the highest single day of sign-ups ever.

The series, which debuted Nov. 13 on both Paramount+ (two episodes) and Paramount Network (as a sneak peek of episode one), is an American crime drama created by Taylor Sheridan (“Yellowstone”) in which Stallone plays a mafia capo.

“Tulsa King’s” linear preview on Paramount Network made it the biggest new series premiere of 2022 across cable with 3.7 million total viewers, besting “House of the Dragon” and “The Old Man.”

“‘Tulsa King’ scored as the No. 1 new series of the year, topping all others including the ‘Game of Thrones’ sequel ‘House of the Dragon,’ with its preview on Paramount Network, and on Paramount+, it shattered records, driving us to our biggest new sign-up day in history — which is why we instantly greenlit season two,” Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Paramount Media Networks & MTV Entertainment Studios, said in a statement. “’Tulsa King’ together with ‘Mayor of Kingstown,’ ‘1883’ and the upcoming ‘1923,’ undeniably confirm the success of our strategy to franchise ‘Yellowstone’ and use it to supercharge streaming growth — none of which would be possible without the creative mastermind of Taylor Sheridan.”

“With the combination of the incomparable Sylvester Stallone and Taylor Sheridan’s darkly comedic twist on the beloved mobster genre, we have found our latest hit in ‘Tulsa King,'” Tanya Giles, chief programming officer of Paramount Streaming, said in a statement. “The series’ premiere on Paramount+ helped drive a record sign-up day fueled by our unique ability as Paramount Global to tap into Paramount Network’s incredible ‘Yellowstone’ audience.”

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“We could not be more excited about the success of ‘Tulsa King,’” David C. Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios, said in a statement. “It’s a fun, fresh show that audiences are truly embracing in no small part because of its star, Sylvester Stallone.  We are thankful to Chris McCarthy and MTV Entertainment Studios for their continued support and we are looking forward to getting back on set for season two.”

Paramount+ Bows in the U.K., Reveals New Content Slates and European Launch Timing

Paramount Global rolled out the Blue Carpet and hosted a star-studded event set at Outernet London to celebrate the debut of Paramount+ in the U.K. and Ireland on June 22.  The premium SVOD service will offer more than 8,000 hours of content, including movies and TV series, new originals and iconic shows

“Paramount+ is a mountain of entertainment for the entire family,” Tom Ryan, CEO of streaming for Paramount, said during the presentation. “We’re the only [streaming] service where you’ll see Sylvester Stallone, ‘SpongeBob SquarePants,’ ‘Star Trek’ and ‘South Park’ all in one place.”

“Launching Paramount+ in the U.K. is not just about bringing the best of the world to Britain, it’s about getting even more of the best of Britain to the world,” said Maria Kyriacou, president of Australia, Canada, Israel and the U.K. for Paramount. “Even before we launch, we have already commissioned 20 shows, with many more planned in the coming years.”

Hosted by Graham Norton, the London event featured actors/performers Kevin Costner, Viola Davis, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Naomie Harris, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Bill Nighy, David Oyelowo, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Shannon and Sylvester Stallone, among others.

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Paramount+ launches after successfully landing in South Korea on June 16 and will continue its expansion to Italy in September, and to Germany, Switzerland, Austria (GSA) and France in December, with 45 markets expected to launch by the end of the year.

In addition, Paramount+ unveiled slates for its premium international originals as well as casting details and the start of productions in partnership with MTV Entertainment Studios.

As previously announced, the streamer announced its continued investment in content with a slate of international original series, a step toward its plan to commission 150 international originals by 2025.

The originals will be produced by VIS, a division of Paramount’s worldwide studio footprint that spans more than 20 countries, in partnership with a range of production companies from around the world.

Paramount+ also made several announcements in partnership with MTV Entertainment Studios.

The streamer announced that two-time Emmy-winning actress Dana Delany (“Body of Proof”) will join previously announced series lead and Academy Award nominee Sylvester Stallone in the new original series “Tulsa King.” Creator and Academy Award nominee Taylor Sheridan serves as executive producer alongside Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Terence Winter (“The Sopranos,” The Wolf of Wall Street), who will also be at the helm as showrunner and writer.

Produced by MTV Entertainment Studios and 101 Studios, “Tulsa King” will premiere on Paramount+ with two episodes on Sunday, Nov. 13, on Paramount+ in the U.S. The series will roll out internationally to Canada on Nov. 13, followed by Australia and the U.K. on Nov. 14, and later this year Latin America and other international markets.

The series is the latest addition to Sheridan’s growing slate on Paramount+, which includes “1883,” “Mayor of Kingstown,” and the upcoming series “Lioness,” “1883: The Bass Reeves Story,” “Land Man” and “1923.” 

Taylor Sheridan’s highly anticipated next installment of the “Yellowstone” origin story to account for the end of World War 1 (1918) and the start of Prohibition (1920) both of which will be woven into the story has gotten a new name — “1923” (formerly “1932”)

Produced by MTV Entertainment Studios, 101 Studios and Bosque Ranch Productions, the series stars Academy Award winner Helen Mirren and Academy Award nominee Harrison Ford.

Paramount+ also announced production will begin next week in Atlanta, Georgia for its upcoming original series “Wolf Pack,” premiering later this year and internationally where the service is available.

The series will be written and executive produced by Jeff Davis as part of his multiyear deal with MTV Entertainment Studios. Davis is also writing and producing the upcoming Paramount+ original film Teen Wolf: The Movie.

Singer Mel B is set to join a panel of judges for season two of global singing competition “Queen of the Universe,” joining a lineup of returning judges, including platinum-selling recording artist, three-time Emmy-winning producer and judge of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Michelle Visage; multi-Emmy and Grammy nominee Vanessa Williams; and American drag superstar Trixie Mattel. Five-time BAFTA TV Award-winner Graham Norton will also return as host.

In the U.K., Paramount+ will be available online at https://www.paramountplus.com/ , on mobile and a wide range of connected TV devices via distribution through Apple, Amazon, Google, Roku and Samsung, and more. Users will be able to sign up to the service for £6.99 per month/£69.90 per annum in the U.K. and €7.99 monthly or €79.90 annually in Ireland after a free seven-day trial.

Paramount+ will also launch on Sky platforms in the U.K. and Ireland as part of a new multiyear distribution agreement that also includes the extended carriage of Paramount’s portfolio of pay TV channels. Sky Cinema subscribers will get Paramount+ included at no extra cost through a standalone app on Sky Glass and Sky Q.