‘Expendables 2,’ Tarantino box new on video

By Rich Heldenfels Beacon Journal popular culture writer

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Chuck Norris stars as 'Booker' in The Expendables 2. (Frank Masi)

You often see video releases tied to holidays, for example with Christmas offerings hitting stores in the weeks leading up to Dec. 25. I suppose that something like that is at work about Thanksgiving — although the message seems to be that DVD and Blu-ray buyers want big doses of action with their turkey and green-bean casserole. Sounds like a better fit with the pizza Lisa Abraham is talking about on this page.

In any case, Tuesday’s new items include the old-guys-kick-ass epic The Expendables 2 (Lionsgate, $29.95 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray). Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and many, many others try to demonstrate that neither age nor cosmetic surgery will keep movie heroes from blowing up lots of stuff.

As with 2010’s The Expendables, the idea of the sequel is more interesting than the noisy movie itself — you see the trailer, you nod happily and then decide to see something else. In fact, Expendables 2 made less money in the U.S. than its predecessor. But the films are huge overseas, where the new film took in more than it did here, so the final tally was more than $300 million.

But as entertainment, it’s pretty disposable, a long if generally efficient parade of explosions and fight scenes. Extras include an audio commentary by director Simon West, four featurettes, deleted scenes and bloopers.

A very big box of action marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, the movie that established him as a writer, director and occasional Oscar darling. (He has been nominated as a director of Pulp Fiction and Inglourious Basterds, and writer of those films, with a win for his Pulp Fiction screenplay).

Tarantino XX (Lionsgate, $119.99) is a Blu-ray collection of eight films with Tarantino ties. He directed seven: the three mentioned above plus Jackie Brown, the two parts of Kill Bill and Death Proof, which was first seen as his half of the Grindhouse collaboration with Robert Rodriguez. Then there’s True Romance, which Tarantino wrote and Tony Scott directed.

It’s a mass of mad plotting, strange dialogue, violence, shocks and homages to other films — everything, in short, that makes Tarantino loved, hated or, at times, just dull. And, in addition to archival extras, it has impressive graphics and two discs of added material, including a look back at Tarantino’s career that by itself runs more than two hours. A panel discussion of Tarantino’s films that is even longer and five trailers for Tarantino’s next film, Django Unchained.

The swashbuckling Zorro has been played by actors including Guy Williams (star of the Disney TV version) and Antonio Banderas (in two big-screen films). But you may not be as aware of French actor Alain Delon’s turn in a colorful movie from 1975.

Somerville House is giving the film its first authorized U.S. release on DVD ($19.98) and Blu-ray ($24.98) on Monday. Extras are minimal, and the opening song is ’70s pop that is even more jarring than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s use of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. But Delon is good as both Zorro and the foppish Don Diego.

Finally, if you did not buy the epic Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season when it was released on DVD and Blu-ray four months ago, you get another shot (and more stuff) in the new Collector’s Edition (HBO Video, $99.97 for a Blu-ray/DVD combo). Besides the show and the extras from the previous releases, the set has a dragon’s-egg paperweight, a plush package and a bonus Blu-ray with the first episode of the second season.

Also, elsewhere in this section you can find my look at The Iron Petticoat, a ’50s romantic comedy starring Bob Hope and Katharine Hepburn. Yes, you read that right. It comes to DVD and Blu-ray via Turner Classic Movies’ website, www.tcm.com, on Monday. And Ken Burns’ documentary The Dust Bowl, airing tonight and Monday on PBS, will be on DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday; you can read about the program in today’s Channels.

Down video road: Gossip Girl: The Sixth and Final Season will be on DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 19. The well-received The Perks of Being a Wallflower will be in both formats Feb. 12 (with a digital download window beginning Jan. 22). The Oscar-winning On the Waterfront gets the Criterion treatment Feb. 19.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.

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