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HTF BluRay Review: The Incredible Hulk



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#1 of 26 Sam Posten

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Posted October 30 2008 - 05:22 PM

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Blu Ray Title: The Incredible Hulk
Disk Release Date: 10/21/08
Rated: PG-13
Screen format: 1080P High Definition Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Universal
First theatrical release: 13 June 2008
Previous releases on disk: Day and Date with multidisc Anamorphic DVD
Director: Louis Letterier
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Rim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell and William Hurt
Sound Formats: English DTS Master Audio 5.1, French & Spanish DTS 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0
Length: 1 Hour 53 Minutes
Subtitles: English, Spanish and French




Plot: 4/5

The Incredible Hulk is less of a ‘sequel’ to the recent Hulk film (which was simply titled “The Hulk”) than a clever continuation of all of the Hulk movies, TV shows and even the video games which have come before it. It does this without ever directly referencing them and with minimal disagreement with their plots, which is a pretty remarkable thing. While I really enjoyed the Hulk Comics as a kid, I am not a fan of either the Bill Bixby TV series or the Ang Lee film, but it’s still pretty neat to see all of these elements tied together and featuring a lot of integral cameos like those of Lou Ferigno and Stan Lee and really get things right from a Fan perspective.

In The Incredible Hulk, David Banner (Norton) has attempted to escape his past, by retreating to distant lands and focusing his mind and body in attempt to control his anger and repress the Hulk living inside of him. Lost love Betty Ross (Tyler) has gone on with her life while her father, General Thunderbolt Ross (Hurt), remains on the chase. When a drop of blood from Banner turns up in a most unexpected place, the military turns up the heat and engages Banner, unleashing the Hulk. One witness, Major Emil Blonsky (Roth) is obsessed by the power that the Hulk has and convinces the general to let him revive the testing that led to Banner’s transformation, on himself, in an attempt to match The Hulk’s powers. Only Blonsky isn’t mild mannered like Banner, he is much more ambitious, angry and cold blooded, and when he is subjected to the experiment he turns into something far worse than Hulk, he becomes “The Abomination” and Banner is forced to choose between pursuing his cure (and Betty!) and stopping this monstrosity.

Above all, this film is true to its core and to the character of Hulk. Norton was a superb choice to play this role and Roth brings perfect insanity to Blonsky, they make great adversaries. While Tyler’s doe eyes and sweet presence give a solid foundation to Banner's motivation, both she and Hurt seem to never really get the meaty scenes they deserve here.

As an action film this release is miles beyond the previous one and doesn’t sacrifice too much in the way of solid backstory to get there. Banner’s life beyond America is actually interesting and while it takes a bit of time to get there it sets up the confrontation for the rest of the film quite nicely. I’m still not sold on the CGI look of the Hulk either, but it’s a lot more impressive here, the battles are terrific and at least the Hulk doesn’t make ridiculous pogo jumps for miles at a time.

Paired with Iron Man this is a great indication that the right people are finally in control of making the types of Super Hero movies that the fans have known all along are possible but have been stopped time and again by studio suits or directors with their own agendas. Keep true to the core and you can have both a great tent-pole film and one that still makes sense and is a lot of fun.

Sound Quality: 4.5/5

Presented in uncompressed DTS Master Audio 5.1 I had the great pleasure of watching this movie in a properly calibrated room running all SVS speakers and subwoofers, and they put ever inch of their technology to use for this film. All corners of the room come ablaze during the action sequences of course, but even the quieter moments have not so subtle use of the surrounds and low end, especially in the jungle sequences and in the warehouse in which Banner is working as both animal background chatter and the rumble of automation are captured with pinpoint brilliancy. This is a film you are going to want to play at or above the reference level as it’s well worth it for all of the effects that swirl around. And if you want bass, just check out the scene where the army employs sonic wave weapons on the Hulk, I think I had a table vibrating across my floor as that long standing rumble wore Hulk down when I rewatched it in my home.

Musically, Craig Armstrong’s vibrant orchestral soundtrack reminds me, if you can believe it, a lot of Phantom of the Opera, with heavy bass in the string section and a rock sensibility to the percussion. Definitely worth a listen to on its own and the best compliment I can pay it is that it was more memorable to me than Danny Elfman’s contribution to The Hulk!

Visual Quality: 4.5/5

While it’s a dark film, the grittiness of the theatrical film comes through beautifully on BluRay. Every bit of the grain in the original print seems to have been retained and this helps to ground the CGI more than anything else. It’s also a fantastically detailed and sharp film, and when viewed on a properly calibrated 1080p projector I saw zero edge enhancement, dust, pops, scratches or other artifacts during the entire viewing.

There are a number of scenes which look particularly memorable, especially Hulks battle with the military on a college campus and against the Abomination within the confines of a dark city, and there are also a number of city establishing shots that are just jaw dropping. While Hulk himself still looks a bit cartoony, the effect is not so dramatic here and the detail level which comes through in his scenes is perfect.

Extra Features: 5/5

The number of extras here is frankly, incredible, and those that I have been able to go through have been among the best I’ve found from Universal. Let’s start off by noting that a second disk is in the box which allows viewers to transfer the film to an iPod or Zune through “Digital Copy”, which is great except you need to note that unlike movies you buy on iTunes this one doesn’t last forever, it expires on 10/31/09 and this detail is hidden in the small print, which is WEAK. There are also a number of breakthrough BD live tools which are new with this release, including the ability to have a live chat with friends while you are all simultaneously watching the film. Kind of neat but I doubt I will ever do that personally.

It wouldn’t be a Universal film without U-Control and this movie has 4 separate choices using that technology. First up is a set of “Thunderbolt files” which are lightweight puff trivia facts and maps which give minor amounts of data about the Hulk and the Military. Next up is a “Comic Book” pop-up display which is actually kinda neat, and shows the associated frames behind several scenes, similar to what we saw in the Heroes Season 1 set. The standard “Making of” clips are available for almost every chapter, and while I will repeat that I think that it sucks to have to randomly get a clip like this without knowing what is in what chapter, those I viewed were really good. Finally, in a REAL technology breakthrough, a final U-control selection lets you choose from 1 of 5 ways to watch the film, normal, effects previsualization, effects midway, storyboard or all 4 at once! Now THAT is good use of BD technology! Add on top of that that there’s a feature length commentary track too and it has both Tim Roth and the director Louis Leterrier.

As for ‘traditional’ extras, there is a collection of deleted scenes, plus an alternate opening scene and then 4 major “Making of” segments. The first is entitled just that, Making of the Incredible Hulk, plus there are separate featurettes on each Hulk and Abomination plus a breakdown of the effects in one particular “Hulk Out” where the Hulk goes on a rampage.

All in all it’s more than enough considering this is a new release and not some kind of Director’s cut or being billed as anything more than just a big film. Oh, and did I mention the BluRay case is green and covered with a cardboard slipcase that has a lenticular 3-D scene on it? Nice touch!

Overall: 4.5/5 (not an average) – Recommended
There is very little I can complain about in this release, the film is fun and the action is great. The sound blew me away and the visuals were both stunning from an effects perspective and well represented in the home, plus there are more extras than I can possibly go through, including a copy for my iPod Touch.

Uni has been off to a rocky start with Blu, but this is a clear indicator than any that they are in this for the long haul and they will refine their toolbox and add enough content in to make the BluRay worth while. What more can I ask for? Recommended!

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#2 of 26 Mike Frezon

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Posted October 30 2008 - 05:29 PM

Thanks for the review, Sam!

This is a title I have not seen...but many friends have recommended it to me. And you make the soundtrack sound worth the effort! Posted Image

I was a DC Comics kid growing up (Superman, Batman, JLA, etc.) but I was recently blown away by the BD of Iron Man...so I'm thinking of giving this a try. It sounds like a fun movie. I'm familiar with the story from the Bill Bixby TV show.

I bet Ed Norton is a gas doing this (kinda like Robert Downey as Iron Man).

The key for me will be to find a good deal somewhere.

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#3 of 26 Ron-P

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Posted October 30 2008 - 06:57 PM

While I find Lee's HULK better, this is one hell-of-a sound ride, the audio track on this is amazing, one of, if not the best. Extremely active surrounds, deep, tight base and an overall sound field that envelopes you and doesn't let go.
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#4 of 26 TonyD

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Posted October 30 2008 - 10:11 PM

I liked both Hulk movies just about equally, they oth have their own merits.

One thing about the new one i liked is what i swear is a nod to the tv show when i know i heard the piano sound that was too much like the one in the show to be a coincidence.

apparently in the alt beginning there is "someone" in the ice as the Hulk breaks a glacier(?) apart.

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#5 of 26 Sam Davatchi

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Posted October 30 2008 - 11:57 PM

I enjoyed this movie more than Iron Man. A very nice feature I noticed on this BD is the screensaver when you pause the movie. Posted Image My BD player has no screensaver.

#6 of 26 Sam Posten

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Posted October 31 2008 - 01:27 AM

Tony you are absolutely right. The iconic piano theme for Banner IS used in the film, I noticed that myself. Again this is one of those nice touches that really make fans squeal with glee. Non fans would never even pick up on that. I missed the figure in the glacier, who do you suppose that is, Thor? =)

Sam, I believe all Uni BDs have this screensaver and I agree, it rocks!

Mike, I think it is a good partner to Iron Man, not to spoil anything but there IS a good tie to that movie in this film! If you are looking for a deal on this disk keep an eye on this forum this weekend, I will be giving away a copy of the Hulk BD to one lucky poster, and like the Iron Man one I gave out this will be my own personal copy as I already had my review copy and Uni gave us Hollywood travellers a copy when we visited them, so it's only right for me to find a good home for it here at HTF!

Sam

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#7 of 26 Doug Wallen

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Posted October 31 2008 - 01:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyD

One thing about the new one i liked is what i swear is a nod to the tv show when i know i heard the piano sound that was too much like the one in the show to be a coincidence.


In checking the credits , there is a listing for "The Lonely Man" (TV theme) music and it was played while David was walking alone in this film. A very brief clip but it was a pleasnat reminder for those of us who enjoyed the tv show.

Doug
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#8 of 26 Gary Seven

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Posted October 31 2008 - 05:07 AM

He was David Bruce Banner in the TV show. In the movie he is what he should be .... Bruce Banner. Minor detail but had to mention it.

#9 of 26 ManW_TheUncool

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Posted October 31 2008 - 09:16 AM

It was a fun and at times rather intense ride. I somehow managed to get it on rental from Blockbuster Online quickly enough, especially after already getting the Indy 4 rental too. The final battle is probably a bit too intense for my pre-teen kid though, so I probably won't be in a hurry to buy it just yet -- maybe wait for a good holiday sale or similar. I'm surprised my neighbor didn't complain about (the sound of) that final battle though. Posted Image Posted Image

Still wondering how Norton's version would play out. Would've been nice to have a bit more time spent on backstory and character development, but the movie works well for what it is anyhow...

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#10 of 26 RickER

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Posted October 31 2008 - 10:10 AM

I watched the TV show as a kid, didnt hate it, but i also didnt lose sleep if i missed it. I loathed the Lee HULK, Hulk Dogs? Please! I skipped this one at the theater, and didnt think anything of it when it came to Blu-ray...but...

I have added this title to my NetFlix and based on your review, i put it at the top. I will let you know, in a month or so, when i get it. Posted Image Thanks for the review Sam.

#11 of 26 Joe Wong

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Posted October 31 2008 - 03:35 PM

Just watched this tonight and yes, the DTS-HD MA track is excellent. I had suspected as much during the few minutes Universal showed us during the studio visit. I love a mix that creates a rich, enveloping soundfield as well as providing plenty of showy, whizbang pans...and this film had both.
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#12 of 26 Ted Kontos

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Posted November 01 2008 - 12:55 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Seven
He was David Bruce Banner in the TV show. In the movie he is what he should be .... Bruce Banner. Minor detail but had to mention it.

That was an issue in the early Hulk comic books as well. I remember they abruptly jumped from calling the main character David Banner to Bruce Banner (a strange continuity problem that wasn't caught). There was an outcry from the fans, and Stan Lee had to come up with the "His name is really David Bruce Banner" explanation to wipe the egg off his face. In the TV show, they went with David, where in the comics, the preferred name was Bruce.
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#13 of 26 Frank Ha

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Posted November 01 2008 - 01:58 AM

I watched this last night. I agree that the sound rocks. Lots of bass, lots of surround, and, as Sam said, a good score. It has a a pretty good story, too.
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#14 of 26 TonyD

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Posted November 01 2008 - 05:43 PM

just wanted to add that I finally had a chance to recheck the alt opening
and there is definately someone there in the ice right at the end of the clip.

I wonder what the plans were for that scene and why they decided not to use it.

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#15 of 26 troy evans

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Posted November 01 2008 - 06:26 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Kontos
That was an issue in the early Hulk comic books as well. I remember they abruptly jumped from calling the main character David Banner to Bruce Banner (a strange continuity problem that wasn't caught). There was an outcry from the fans, and Stan Lee had to come up with the "His name is really David Bruce Banner" explanation to wipe the egg off his face. In the TV show, they went with David, where in the comics, the preferred name was Bruce.
Partially, maybe? The story, as told by Stan "the man" Lee, is that it had to do with the name being equated to homosexuality. Back when Marvel was the new kid on the block parents were starting to get up in arms over the content of comic books. Throwing them out and burning them as pop culture trash that no child should be reading. To police themselves, comic book companies had to watch their content and make ridiculous and stupid decisions based on peoples perception of what things mean and what was thought to be right. It was okay to use racial slurs during war related comics with Capt. America or Superman. Now, that is simply unacceptable and rightly so. By the same token, beliefs over homosexuality, and how a name has anything to do with that at all, was also acceptable at that time. Stan Lee used Batman aka Bruce Wayne as his arguement to keep the name Bruce Banner. Batman, at the time, was a well received live action tv show and had been around awhile. So I guess in the crazy scheme of things they justified that, simply because they liked it. However, it wouldn't be till later that David Bruce Banner came full circle back to Bruce Banner. I guess Stan gets the last laugh on that one. I'm always amazed at how close minded we are now. But, more amazed at how close minded we used to be. Oh yeah.....THE INCREDIBLE HULK ON BLU-RAY ROCKS!!!!!!
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#16 of 26 Jim_K

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Posted November 02 2008 - 12:48 AM

I enjoyed this just as much as Iron-Man (which is saying a lot). As for the Ang Lee film I like it (as very flawed as it is) but this reboot blows it out of the water.

With The Dark Knight, Iron-Man, Incredible Hulk and Hellboy 2, I can't remember a better year for Comic book movies.
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#17 of 26 Yumbo

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Posted November 02 2008 - 06:35 AM

Score was great. Not on iTunes!

#18 of 26 David Willow

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Posted November 02 2008 - 03:20 PM

After being disappointed by the last Hulk movie, I paid no attention to this one until I read this review. Tonight we watched and wow, what a great movie. The sound was crazy. There must have been extremely low frequencies during some scenes. We could feel it, but could not hear it.

I pretty sure I will be buying this.

#19 of 26 Sam Posten

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Posted November 03 2008 - 01:09 AM

Yumbi the score IS on Amazon tho, and the Amazon->iTunes integration is GREAT.

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#20 of 26 Yumbo

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Posted November 03 2008 - 06:54 AM

Amazon downloads only for US credit cards.





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