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Hulk smash!

That statement pretty much summarizes the scope and intention behind THE INCREDIBLE HULK ($40), which serves as a reboot of the franchise, rather than a sequel to HULK-- director Ang Lee’s more cerebral take on the comic book character. Since this reboot comes rather close on the heels of Lee’s film, THE INCREDIBLE HULK omits the origin story, with its fugitive on the run storyline seeming to have more common with the television series that starred Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno (who makes a cameo appearance in this outing), rather than anything outlined in HULK.

While I don’t necessarily consider it a bad thing, THE INCREDIBLE HULK definitely "dumbs down" the story and goes the action movie route that was avoided by its theatrical predecessor. So, with THE INCREDIBLE HULK, the audience is delivered a fairly mindless, and ultimately, more commercial popcorn movie, without the intellectual sensibilities that hamstrung HULK at the boxoffice. Personally, I enjoyed THE INCREDIBLE HULK for what it is (an action movie), as opposed to what it isn’t or could have been (a rich, character based film derived from the world of comic books).

The premise of THE INCREDIBLE HULK finds Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) hiding out in South America looking for a way to cure his accidental overdose of gamma radiation and control the raging spirit that dwells within him. Using meditation techniques, Bruce has managed to suppress the Hulk, but the shadow of his mindless alter ego is always looming. While Bruce searches for a cure, General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross (William Hurt) is still searching for Banner and is finally able to triangulate his lactation in Brazil. Major Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) heads up the extraction team assigned to retrieve Banner, but the mission goes awry, when a certain green skinned gentleman makes a highly destructive appearance.

Of course, Bruce is forced to return stateside to for the hope of a cure, and is reunited with the General’s daughter and his former love Betty Ross (Liv Tyler). The General remains undeterred in his quest to secure Dr. Banner, and the potential super-soldiers locked away in his gamma enhanced DNA. To that end, the General uses Blonsky as a willing guinea pig to create the kind of solider who can stand his ground against the full fury of the Hulk. As you might expect, the General’s science project has some side effects, which transform Blonsky into an unstoppable abomination… thus leading to the film’s inevitable action packed conclusion. The cast of THE INCREDIBLE HULK also features Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, Christina Cabot, Peter Mensah, Stan Lee and an uncredited cameo from Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE INCREDIBLE HULK available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is nothing short of incredible. Everything appears super crisp, highly defined and the image delivers a wonderful level of fine image detail that makes textures, individual hairs and even the lines in the actors’ faces cleanly visible. The CGI work here is much better than on HULK and these sequences also impress in the level of detail and texturing. Hues tend to be very strong and very vibrant, plus the flesh tones are highly appealing. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp and clean, plus the picture produces smooth contrast and a fairly healthy dose of shadow detail. The elements from which THE INCREDIBLE HULK has been mastered demonstrate virtually no imperfections. While the level of grain is usually pretty minimal, there is just enough to make the presentation seem organic.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. No surprise, the sound design is just as incredible as the big guy himself. THE INCREDIBLE HULK sports a highly aggressive sound design places the viewer in the middle of a sonic whirlwind of action. Sonic barrages are launched at the viewer from all sides and leap across the soundstage without effort. Fidelity is astounding; both the music and sound effects terrific. The bass channel is a rock ‘em sock ‘em ground shaker. In the midst of all this, the dialogue remains crisp and is easy to understand. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Louis Leterrier and actor Tim Roth. Next are the Featurettes: The Making Of Incredible Hulk (thirty minutes), Becoming Hulk (nine minutes), Becoming The Abomination (ten minutes), Anatomy Of A Hulk-Out (twenty-eight minutes) and From Comic Book To Screen (seven minute). An Alternate Opening and forty-three minutes of Deleted Scenes are also provided. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements in relation to individual moments or sequences in the film (requires a Profile 1.1 player). A Digital Copy of the film is also provided.

THE INCREDIBLE HULK is a perfect popcorn action movie adapted from a terrific Marvel comic book. The Blu-ray release offers top of the line high definition video and audio. Recommended.



Incredible Hulk [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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