DVD Review: The Expendables 2, Heaven’s Gate and more…

By November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving week, and to home video enthusiasts, that means a little something special. More on that at the end, but first let’s run through what’s new to blu-ray this week, shall we? Yes.

The Expendables 2— This mindless action sequel opens and closes with a pair of legitimately kinetic and enjoyably long sequences of crazy gunplay and maniacal carnage, but you’ll have to suffer through a middle act that’s generic, silly, and boring all at the same time. Action junkies (like myself) will appreciate those two action sequences, plus there’s a legitimate novelty in seeing Stallone, Statham, Willis, Norris, JCVD, and The Ahnold share a few scenes. Most of what they do and say is certifiably stupid, but there’s still some fun to be had. Extras include a gag reel, some featurettes, and an audio commentary from director Simon West.

Tarantino XX Collection— For about 75 bucks you can get eight flicks from one of the most colorfully compelling filmmakers of the past 25 years. Included are Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, True Romance, Jackie Brown, Death Proof, Inglourious Basterds, and both Kill Bill movies. Geeks will surely enjoy the films and the parcel of new supplements including a critics’ discussion of the man’s work, a look back at his career so far, and a tribute to the late great film editor Sally Menke. And of course a Django Unchained teaser.

Heaven’s Gate — Numerous books have been written about the disastrous production and release of Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate since it arrived in 1980, but leave it to the film fans at Criterion Collection to resurrect the alleged “turkey” and ask a new generation of movie freaks to appraise it with fresh eyes. Mr. Cimino approved this 216-minute cut of his widely-lambasted western drama, and of course it’s up to the individual viewer to decide if the film is an ambitious, artistic masterpiece — or an indulgent, sloppy mess. Suffice to say that I look forward to a second visit with this movie.

Grave of the Fireflies— I’d never pretend to be an anime expert, but I know that this one is quite good because I’ve seen it. And now it’s on blu-ray!… on the other hand, if your children like terrible animation, Disney has just released a blu-ray double feature of Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True and Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time. Yes, those are actual movies.

And that good news I mentioned earlier? Thanksgiving week means Black Friday “shopping,” of course, but it seems that Amazon.com has started the holiday a little early. Check out this great piece from my friends at Criterion Corner for a handy listing of all the best blu-ray deals online. Save a few dollars on presents without getting up at 3am and standing in a three-hour line at Best Buy sounds pretty good to me.

Have a great holiday. Eat slow!

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Scott Weinberg
Writer. Movie critic. Producer. Semi-actor. Wise-ass. Film advocate. Horror geek. Cat fan. Twitter junkie. Follow me at @scotteweinberg.