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The Incredible Hulk(2008)
The Incredible Hulk kicks off an all-new, explosive and action-packed epic of one of the most popular Super Heroes of all time. In this new beginning, scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) desperately hunts for a cure to the gamma radiation that poisoned his cells and unleashes the unbridled force of rage within him: The Hulk. Living in the shadows — cut off from a life he knew and the woman he loves, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) — Banner struggles to avoid the obsessive pursuit of his nemesis, General Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), and the military machinery that seeks to capture him and brutally exploit his power. As all three grapple with the secrets that led to The Hulk's creation, they are confronted with a monstrous new adversary known as The Abomination (Tim Roth), whose destructive strength exceeds even The Hulk's own.
For more about The Incredible Hulk and the The Incredible Hulk Blu-ray release, see the The Incredible Hulk Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 19, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell
Director: Louis Leterrier
» See full cast & crew
The Incredible Hulk Blu-ray Review
'The Incredible Hulk' is a beast of a Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 19, 2008
Something really bad is about to happen here.
Audiences will remember the first decade of the 21st century for large-scale, big-budget comic book cinema adaptations. Like the B-grade Science Fiction films of the 1950s, the gritty dramas of the 1970s, or the big muscle action films of the 1980s, this decade will instantly recall the wave of Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man and X-Men films, timed to greet summertime audiences, becoming almost an annual right of passage. Summer almost feels incomplete without a handful of these comics-turned-films, and the summer of 2008 proved to be, perhaps, the best yet. Three films -- Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and The Incredible Hulk -- served notice that the genre is here to stay, and that it is only getting better. Like any successful cinematic venture, however, nearly countless wannabes and second-rate films begin to emerge, trying to earn a chunk of Joe Movie's entertainment dollar, and the lesser attempts certainly dilute the overall quality of the genre's offerings. Films like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Daredevil miss the mark and sour some in the audiences to the point that the mere preview for the latest superhero outing just might do nothing more than cause the eyes to roll and the wallet to remain firmly closed in pocket. Director Ang Lee's crack at the superhero market, with his 2003 film Hulk, was another in the growing string of failed comic book to silver screen projects. Although it earned plenty of money and valiantly strove to literally bring a comic book to the big screen through its unique visuals, the film was overlong and tedious, the franchise already on the precipice of failure. Enter Marvel Studios, and five years later, Bruce Banner and the Hulk are back, bigger and better than ever, in a film with a genuine story, fine acting, a quick pace, a manageable runtime, incredible special effects, and marvelous sound design. Though certainly the least of the three major comic book adaptations to be released this past summer, The Incredible Hulk remains one of the best of the decade and now arrives on a Blu-ray disc as powerful as the Hulk itself.
Bruce Banner (Edward Norton, The Italian Job) is a man on the run from the United States Government, and is currently working in a bottling factory in Brazil. He was once a brilliant scientific mind who worked on exciting and groundbreaking projects, including the development of a shield to protect individuals from the harmful effects of gamma radiation. Confident in his work, Banner himself became a test subject of his own serum and discovered a most unwanted side effect. When his heart rate increases to around 200 beats per minute, his body transforms into a larger-than-life creature known as the Hulk, a beastly, muscular, athletic being immune to the effects of most weapons and possessing incredible strength and agility. Banner has traveled to Brazil in search of a cure to his transformations and to evade those like General "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt, Mr. Brooks) who considers Banner Government property and an important scientific breakthrough, one that could lead to the creation of a race of practically indestructible super soldiers. When Banner's location is revealed, Ross sends a team of commandos, led by Major Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth, Youth Without Youth) to Brazil to capture Banner. Banner barely escapes, and returns to the United States in search of further answers regarding his condition. He reunites with his former girlfriend, and General Ross' daughter, Betty (Liv Tyler, Reign Over Me). Only one step behind, Ross continues his pursuit of Banner, but with the help of a newly energized and dangerous Emil Blonsky.
The Incredible Hulk is pure entertainment. An action movie lover's delight, the film features some of the most ferocious, exciting, and hyper-realistic action sequences this side of Iron Man and Transformers. It demolishes the Ang Lee version in every facet of its existence, particularly in its well-staged, loud, and kinetic action, and unlike that previous 2003 film, The Incredible Hulk is a blast to watch. The sequence where the Hulk takes on the military and, for the first time, the enhanced Emil Blonsky in broad daylight on the campus of Culver University serves as the film's finest. A treat for the eyes and a strain on the ears, the senses become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the sequence, and the scene will no doubt become a staple in the steady diet of action segments fans turn to on a regular basis, and home theater aficionados and retailers alike will marvel at the scene's incredible visuals and sound present on the Blu-ray. The special effects are also far superior in this version. The Hulk appears more realistic rather than looking like a cartoon, and more importantly, all of the effects integrate seamlessly into the film, and never once is the audience taken out of the film through the use of shoddy visuals, so that in this respect the film remains of a very high quality, similar to Iron Man.
Underneath all the action and special effects of The Incredible Hulk is a dramatic tale of a man in search of who he is, what it is he has become, and how to control it for the sake of others, and for himself. The character of the Hulk seems like a metaphor for the monster inside many of us, a beast full of rage and anger for some, perhaps an inner struggle with an addiction for others, or even of regret or remorse that may control the lives of so many. Bruce Banner goes to great lengths to tame his anger, his inner beast, his destructive power that all too often controls him and harms others, sometimes those deserving of their fates, sometimes those whom he loves. Ultimately, the one whom the Hulk hurts the most is Banner himself, the man who, in this case, means well but cannot consistently retain a psychological equilibrium. Such harm is not always skin deep -- a bruise or a broken bone. His anger takes an emotional toll on his well-being, and on Betty as well. It is also the love, the understanding, the loyalty of another, and the dedication to a cause, which serves as perhaps the best weapon against the inner monster that is always prepared to spring to life and do its harmful deeds. The Incredible Hulk is a fine action film, but it also offers a deeper meaning and presents complex ideas and perhaps even personal reflections to those audience members who choose to see past the superficial story and excitement of the film.
With Iron Man and now The Incredible Hulk, Marvel Studios has proven capable of creating films that not only excite and entertain, but do not approach their subject materials with a heavy hand. Both films are accessible to longtime fans and newcomers who have never flipped through a comic book before, capturing first-rate action sequences but never leaving viewers confused as to the origins or motivations of the characters. The interconnection of the stories in the Marvel universe is yet another way through which the studio is reaching out to its fan-base while at the same time also creating new fans through their films. This interplay piques the interest of non-fans, excites the longtime, knowledgeable fans of both the films and the comics, and creates a common thread between films of uncommon characters. Not only has Marvel Studios taken the first steps in creating a complete cinematic universe featuring its most cherished characters, but the studio has taken care to ensure that the films themselves are of the utmost quality. Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk offer viewers incredibly orchestrated and well-photographed action, but they also take the time to establish characters, make them people about whom the audience cares and with whom they connect, and provide plenty of drama and emotion that improves upon the story, makes it more urgent and thoughtful, and plays to the intelligence of moviegoers. Each shot or line of dialogue serves a purpose, integrating into the story and working as a building block to create the drama necessary to support the action. Nothing is superfluous, nothing is insulting or poorly thought out. The films are carefully and lovingly crafted. They are action films first and foremost, but they ensure that the action plays into the story, not vice versa.
The Incredible Hulk Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Incredible Hulk comes to Blu-ray in a top-notch high definition presentation. Framed at 2.35:1, the image is consistently pleasing to the eye in every regard. Detail is exceptional in most every frame, and the image retains a sharpness, clarity, and fine color reproduction that few discs can boast. The bustling factory scene at the beginning of the movie is deep and clean with wonderful attention to detail. Viewers often feel like a part of the film, in this scene and elsewhere, thanks to the lifelike reproduction of every facet of the picture. The numerous Brazilian rooftops as seen during a fly over shot remain sharp as a tack and nicely detailed and clear, even from a moderate distance. Take a look at Emil Blonsky in chapter 6 after his fist confrontation with the Hulk. Every drop of sweat glistens off his face, every speckle of dirt reveals itself, and the stress, wonder, and fear of the encounter show clearly on his face. The exterior shots of Culver University in chapter 8, showcasing the daylight-drenched greens of the campus and the textures of various signage, walkways, and buildings, will wow viewers with the depth and breadth of the image as it showcases excellent detail, color reproduction, and realism that is the next best thing to strolling thorough a beautiful college common area. Only a handful of shots ever look soft. Black levels are superb, and flesh tones appear accurate. This is a marvelously sharp transfer that never disappoints.
The Incredible Hulk Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless audio offerings continue to impress with The Incredible Hulk, and this soundtrack may be the finest yet the studio has to offer, and is arguably a new benchmark for action-oriented audio on the Blu-ray format. It takes absolutely no time to realize the power of this soundtrack. Music, effects, and bass all flow effortlessly around the soundstage during the film's opening title and credit sequence, replete with an awesome presence and volume, offering pinpoint precision and grace across the board. The polished, robust experience continues in chapter 3 during a scene showcasing the arrival of several helicopters and the Emil Blonsky character. The soundstage becomes submerged in chest-pounding lows that emanate from the airships' rotors. The interior of the cargo plane in the next scene comes alive with the rattly, loud interior of the hull, where the sounds of flight and the shaking of the cargo rumble throughout the entire listening area. There is never a shortage of explosive audio in The Incredible Hulk; when Blonsky's team first raids Banner's home in Brazil, the explosive charges that detonate the door pound with impressive precision and power. A shootout in chapter 5, featuring gunshots that reverberate with frightening accuracy, shell casings that rattle on the floor by the hundreds, and the heavy steps of the Hulk, is as explosive, precise, loud, and fulfilling as any audio experience yet on Blu-ray, but will soon be outdone by later sequences in the film.
The next major action sequence, as heard in chapter 10, is a contender for audio demonstration sequence of the year, and perhaps of the decade. The experience comes replete with a barrage of .50 caliber machine gun fire, plenty of other small arms, and devastation courtesy of a Hulk whose scream will practically shove listeners through the back wall of the theater. The pulses fired at the Hulk are so high pitched and devastating on the senses that there is no way of describing the sheer power of the moment. Duck, cover, and enjoy. For as wonderful as the action scenes are, the film's more tranquil moments sound just as good. Take a scene in chapter 6, for example. Banner, recovering from a confrontation, is resting near a jungle waterfall in Guatemala. The water cascades down all around the viewer, birds sing in the backgrounds, and the sounds of nature gracefully create a wonderfully clear and clean atmosphere that is a tranquil reprieve from the powerful and aggressive sound design of the film. Dialogue is recreated with pinpoint accuracy throughout as well. The Incredible Hulk may set a new standard for action movie audio, and Universal studios continues to offer lossless audio at its finest.
The Incredible Hulk Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Incredible Hulk offers viewers, well, an incredible amount of bonus materials. A commentary track featuring director Louis Leterrier and actor Tim Roth is first. The track begins with the work that went into the film's opening credit sequence. Not only does this sequence pay homage to the original television show, but it sets up the film by establishing itself as a separate entity from Ang Lee's film. From there, the track offers fairly standard stuff, with some light discussion of sets and shooting locations, Stan Lee's cameo, the work of the other cast and crew members, the special effects, make-up, sound design, and other tidbits. It's a very average track, worth a listen for hardcore fans, but skippable for most. The Incredible Hulk is also U-Control enabled. There are several options to choose from. The Thunderbolt Files provides biographies of various characters, Bruce Banner's location, and Ross' mission parameters. Scene Explorer allows viewers to see various sequences in the film in several stages of development. Comic Book Gallery shows various images from the Hulk comics. Animated Comic showcases how scenes from the film were influenced by scenes found in previous comic books. Finally, a standard picture-in-picture feature is available that features behind-the-scenes videos, cast and crew interviews, and more.
An alternate opening to the film (1080p, DTS-HD MA 5.1, 2:34) is next, followed by 23 deleted scenes (480p, 42:45). The Making of Incredible (1080i, 29:54) examines Louis Letterier's initial involvement and the strengths he brought to the film, the casting of the primary characters, shooting locations, special effects, shooting techniques, and more. This is a well-made, fast-paced, and informative feature, a "one-stop shop" for viewers who don't have time for all of the supplements available here. Becoming the Hulk (1080i, 9:22) examines the process of choosing a look for the Hulk, which has varied greatly over the years both on television, on film and in the comics. Becoming the Abomination (1080i, 10:16) is a similar feature to the previous, an examination of the creation of the Hulk's primary enemy and the technology, including motion capture, that brings the character to life. Anatomy of a Hulk-Out (1080i, 27:50) takes an in-depth look at the film's three major action sequences -- In the Bottling Plant, On Campus, and In Harlem. From Comic Book to Screen is the same feature found in the U-Control picture-in-picture feature Animated Comic.
The Incredible Hulk is BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) enabled. The disc offers a brief text-based introduction to the technology. Upon accessing the BD-Live home page, users must first create an account to access the extra content. The main page is attractive and easy to navigate. Along with several previews and tutorials, the meat of the feature is the movie exclusive content. There is a Hellboy II and two Hulk features. On Set With Cyril: The Film's Fight Choreographer (480p) is first. The feature took only moments to load on my rather slow connection, though it did pause periodically to load additional content. The feature examines the choreography of the film's stunts, though some of the material is carried over from previous disc-based supplements. Spotlight on Tim Blake Nelson and Ty Burrell is another 480p feature dedicated to a closer look at these actors and the characters they play. There is also a "community" feature where users can collect scenes or chat with other users. This Blu-ray package also provides buyers with a digital copy of the film. Playing the film back on a 2nd generation iPod touch and watching select scenes only, the quality is moderately good, compared to two other titles I have watched on the iPod -- Risky Business and Alien vs. Predator Requiem. Colors are a bit stronger on this digital copy than on the others, and the image is bright and clear, though noticeable flaws remain, such as banding and blocking, particularly in dark areas of the screen. Detail is fairly good. Overall, however, the image is very watchable. The audio quality is decent. Risky Business sounded like a bad drive-in theater presentation, whereas The Incredible Hulk offers a stronger presence with better fidelity and clarity. Dialogue reproduction is adequate. Digital copies, in my opinion, offer solid value-added to the primary Blu-ray disc.
The Incredible Hulk Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Incredible Hulk is a fine example of a comic book movie done right. It offers amazing visuals and plenty of action, but, more important to the story, never falters in the areas of character development and narrative, which are crucial in creating a more fulfilling cinematic experience. The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and The Dark Knight are all shining examples of the comic book-based movie done absolutely right, and 2008 will be remembered as one of the best years the genre has seen to date. Universal brings The Incredible Hulk to Blu-ray in a package that is a definite must-own. Featuring excellent video quality and a reference-grade soundtrack that raises the bar for action movie extravaganza mixes, not to mention a jam-packed supplemental section, a digital copy of the film, and a unique green-colored Blu-ray case, the disc is impossible to resist. The Incredible Hulk comes highly recommended!
The Incredible Hulk: Other Editions
The Incredible Hulk Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Incredible Hulk Gets Details/Dated - August 26, 2008
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will release 'The Incredible Hulk' for Blu-ray on October 21st, day-and-date with the DVD release. The two two-disc set (a BD-50 with a DVD containing a digital copy of the film) will feature 1080p VC-1 ...
• The Incredible Hulk Gets BD-Live Features; Still No Date - August 15, 2008
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has revealed some of the special features that will accompany the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'The Incredible Hulk', though no street date has been set as of yet. The film will come in a collectible 3D packaging and feature ...
• Hulk Blu-ray to House 70 Minutes of Cut Footage - June 11, 2008
During an interview with director Louis Leterrier, he mentioned that the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'The Incredible Hulk', which is set to be released this Friday, will contain 70 minutes of cut footage. Apparently, during the editing process, some much-loved ...
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