The Incredible Hulk (2008) [Blu-ray]
|Genre(s): Action / Science Fiction / Thriller|
|Universal || PG13 - 113 minutes - $39.98 || October 21, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-10-17|
Writer(s): Zak Penn (screen story and screenplay)
Cast: Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, William Hurt
Theatrical Release Date: June 13, 2008
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I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the 2003 Ang Lee Hulk feature that received mixed critical and audience reactions (the latter evident after a colossal box office collapse after a $70m opening weekend). But one cannot avoid comparing Ang Lee’s slow-paced, story-first/action-second version with director Louis Leterrier’s much leaner, action-driven feature, The Incredible Hulk which clocks in (minus end credits) at around 105 minutes, a far cry from Hulk’s massive 138-minute runtime.
After only five years, Marvel Enterprises has given the green machine a much needed reboot, and damn did it ever work! With a clean slate, not to mention a $300 million mega-hit with Iron Man in their arsenal, Marvel’s plans for an Avengers movie look to be shaping up quite well (in fact, they tie in Iron Man into Incredible Hulk). Even though I respected some of Lee’s choices in Hulk, this is a character that needs action sequences and boy does he ever have them now...
The Incredible Hulk effectively opens with a quick back-story on Bruce Banner (Edward Norton), how he became radioactive, what he did when he transformed into The Hulk (though we don’t see him), etc. A good 3 or 4 minutes, and boom, we dive into the story. After the final credits, we find Bruce in Brazil living the quiet but ever so cautious life working at a bottle factory, communicating with a scientist known only as “Mr. Blue” in the hopes he can find a cure.
Back in the States, General Ross (William Hurt) is on the hunt for Bruce and employs a military specialist named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to lead a team to capture Banner so the Army may find how he becomes the green monster and utilize the power on the soldiers. Of course, Banner and Ross have a past as Ross witnessed what “The Hulk” can do and the fact that Bruce and his daughter, Betty (Liv Tyler), are in love.
** Spoiler Warning **
Soon enough, however, Blonsky gets a bit of the “Hulk” fever becoming ever more aggressive with each encounter before turning into a creature known as the “Abomination” for which now “The Hulk” must fight in what was truly one of the best hero-villain showdown I’ve seen in a while (and one that puts the finale in Iron Man to shame).
** End Spoilers **
The Incredible Hulk is a fantastic reboot that features some solid performances. First, the always dependable Edward Norton, while definitely not very “Hulk”-ish like his predecessors (Eric Bana, Lou Ferrigno), still makes the part his own in what was a fairly short amount of time. Same goes with the lovely Liv Tyler and veteran actors William Hurt and Tim Roth. All three compliment Norton and makes the film instantly credible and allows for some story or character shortfalls to be overlooked.
Much has and will be made of “The Hulk” himself, as a CGI character and in order for you to enjoy this film, you’re going to need to get over the fact that he will probably never look 100% real, so even in a comic book movie, further suspension of disbelief will need to be in full effect. One of my big criticisms of the Star Wars prequels and any other CGI-laden movies is the fact that it’s difficult for me to be entertained as my brain gears into overdrive trying to follow and comprehend what my eyes are seeing. Not so with The Incredible Hulk. Here we have several action sequences, with breaks for moments between Banner and Betty, and each one is as satisfying and entertaining as the next culminating in a climax that actually works for once. And one good reason is now “The Hulk” has some weight, giving him a certain real world quality that allows the viewer to enjoy the screen rather than wondering why the CGI character looks weird.
The Incredible Hulk certainly lives up to the name as Marvel Enterprises have once again released a solid comic book movie that matches and in some ways, surpasses Summer 2008’s darling, Iron Man. There is plenty of action to satisfy the summer crowds and a decent, though edited, story that will give enough emotional foundation to keep you watching until the very end.
I should also note the film co-stars Tim Blake Nelson in a smallish but important role and also features a tacked-on final scene that should have been left after the credits (a la the awesome cameo in Iron Man).
Some features are presented in 1080i/p HD and others 480i/p SD.
Feature Commentary – Director Louis Leterrier and co-star Tim Roth sit down for a fairly technical-heavy track that is decent enough but can at times get a little dry. But overall it’s OK and although it’s not one of the better commentaries I’ve listened to, you’ll still get some inside info about Leterrier’s thinking about this and trying not to make this a sequel.
Alternate Opening (8:33) – Although I love Louis Leterrier’s direction and scope with this opening (which finds Bruce Banner climbing a snowy mountain), it doesn’t make that much sense and it fails to build any sort of momentum for his introduction.
Deleted Scenes (42:45) – 23 scenes have been included on this Blu-ray release (the 1-disc and 2-disc versions have a various amount) and each are pretty good and it would’ve been interesting to see them put back in. A few of them you’ll recall seeing in a couple theatrical trailers. ** Partially Blu-ray Exclusive **
The Making of Incredible (29:54) – Probably the only disappointing thing on this disc is the ‘making-of’ really only goes into basic territory. It begins with Leterrier explaining how he got on board and his hesitations to casting Edward Norton, Tim Roth, William Hurt and Liv Tyler. You get plenty of behind-the-scenes footage but the Iron Man documentary really set the bar high and this did not even come close.
Becoming the Hulk (9:22) and Becoming the Abomination (10:16) goes into how the visual effects worked for both CGI characters from taking facial expressions from Norton and Roth to just the overall design and making, in the case of Hulk, different from previous incarnations.
Anatomy of a Hulk Out (29:50) is split into three segments (scenes): “Hulking Out in the Bottling Plant”, “Hulking Out on Campus” and “Hulking Out in Harlem” looks at the special and visual effects for each one and more interviews from the filmmakers.
U-Control (profile 1.1/2.0) – Universal’s staple in the hi-def world is a pop-up of various features while you watch the movie and you can select them throughout. First is the quickly useless Thunderbolt Files which are just text files (basically) where, as the film progresses, you can find out more information about different characters; Picture in Picture is the best part, though there isn’t really a whole lot, but what’s there isn’t repetitive of what was seen other featurettes; Comic Book Gallery isn’t used much but it’s a feature that pops up with a comic book panel that filmmakers’ used as a basis for certain shots (a wink to fans); amd Scene Explorer is a cool feature where during the major sequences comes up and you can select one of four panels to look at (Pre-Viz, Visual Effects, Final Plate, etc). ** Blu-ray Exclusives **
My Chat and MyScenes are two more exclusives for the BD-Live folks (profile 2.0 only) to either chat with others or share their favorite scenes. ** Blu-ray Exclusives **
Also included is a Animated Comic (6:33) which are just comic panels from a Tim Sale graphic novel. It’s a pretty cool thing to watch once, but that’s about it. There also is a digital copy to transfer the film to your PC or iPod.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
I currently own several Blu-rays (and have watched many more) and The Incredible Hulk is easily one of the best looking hi-def titles I have seen yet. Colors are absolutely vibrant and the picture itself crisp, clean and sharp. I didn’t notice any kind of flaws with the transfer as it looks just like I remember seeing it at the theater.
Universal has given the film an incredibly (no pun intended) in-depth DTS-HD MA soundtrack that will utterly shake every one of your windows and if you share a wall with a neighbor, better expect complaints. Just like the picture, this is probably one of the best tracks I have ever heard. This is really an astounding sounding movie that is as close to the theater as you can get at home.
Although this is just shy of being a 5/5 Blu-ray release, it is easily one of the best released on the format yet. The audio is absolutely fantastic and the video quality is truly something that any audio-video enthusiast needs to see for themselves. It also helps that the features are pretty good, even without a comprehensive ‘making-of’ akin to the one on the Iron Man release.