The Incredible Hulk Blu-ray Review
PictureAlongside its Marvel summer blockbuster sibling Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk boasts a video rendition that is an exercise in near-perfection. Coming to Blu-ray in glorious 1080p High Definition, the movie is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is fantastic - from the stubble on the Hulk's face (!) to the pouring rain, with absolutely no softness whatsoever and, conversely, no edge enhancement present to keep the sharpness at a high level. Aside from excellent clarity, the colour scheme comes across well, given the slightest of green tinges (for obvious reasons) and often depicting lush green forests and landscapes with breathtaking realism. Interiors stand up to close inspection, and things even hold together during the more effects-orientated scenes (particularly the city-smashing final confrontation). Blacks are resolutely solid throughout, allowing for excellent night-time sequences and deep shadowing. Overall it is one of the best video presentations that I have come across on Blu-ray thus far, standing up alongside the likes of Transformers and the aforementioned Iron Man.
SoundThe Incredible Hulk comes smashing to Blu-ray with a top-of-the-range DTS-HD MA track that is an absolute blast. This is the kind of movie mounted around thunderous rage, so you would expect a boisterous effort, and this track certainly delivers, although perhaps occasionally it can be a little bit too imposing. As quite a thoughtful reinvention of the character, there's plenty of key dialogue which should have its place, but often gets relegated to the sidelines with over-keen observation of the effects. Still, even if you do find yourself occasionally reaching in the general direction of the remote, you never actually get around to needing it, and there's certainly no noticeable levelling issues if you turn the damn thing up loud enough to wake the neighbours, even if on a quieter level you get the impression that it is a tiny bit lopsided. Effects get much of the action - which I guess is no real surprise - with everything from (unnecessary) computer bleeps to creaking floorboards getting acute presentation on the atmospheric front and, of course, the louder crashes, smashes and explosions simply take over. All of the Hulk-out sequences deliver on all fronts, punishing your ears with the destruction that ensues when this raging monster is unleashed, particularly when he has to face off against the best the military has to offer. The score is also quite thoughtful, to suit the lonely path of this wanted fugitive, even interjecting a few seconds of the classic 60s Hulk TV show theme into the mix, perhaps to add a little pathos. It works well, although this subtle approach means that - whilst it perfectly suits the material - it becomes increasingly forgettable as the movie progresses. Bass is slightly overdone, something which I've never actually had to complain about on a movie. Now I certainly didn't find it oppressively distracting, but I did find it noticeable, and overall this is a marginally more disjointed affair than I would have liked for such a recent blockbuster, and which does not feel like it has been fully balanced properly, leaving me having to give what I wanted to be a 9 (or 10) out of 10 track, a respectable 8. Whilst it certainly does not detract from your enjoyment of this summer blockbuster, arguably you would have expected near-perfection and it's tough settling for anything less.
ExtrasFirst up we get an Audio Commentary by Director Louis Leterrier and Actor Tim Roth who discuss everything from the nods to the original TV series to the approach to reboot the franchise rather than just make a sequel to Ang Lee's 2003 vision. Much of the material here is too dry and technical for most, and it would have been nice had it been a little more anecdotal, the discussions on the notorious cuts that were made to the movie feeling like they merely scratch the surface of some serious problems.
The U-Control option allows you to access three features: Comic Book Gallery (a picture-in-picture comic-book which is, unfortunately, only available for 4 scenes across the movie), the Pop-Up Trivia and Picture Track Thunderbolt Files (which offers up, erm, trivia on the movie) and Screen Explorer, which breaks down key scenes in the movie using visual effects dissection and storyboard comparison. All of the options are worth tinkering with, although you feel like they could have been made more comprehensive.
The Alternate Opening and Deleted Scenes do well to flesh out Banner and Betty's characters, but do not showcase good enough material to justify the rumours of the extended cut that were bandied around. Is there really more material out there? Still, they are largely enjoyable and we even get that blink-and-you'll-miss it glimpse of Captain America's shield in the most unexpected cut - the visual effects-laden alternate opening.
The Making of The Incredible Hulk runs at nearly half an hour and is a Behind the Scenes Featurette which generally improves upon your usual promotional piece and offers up a little more depth. All the usual ingredients are involved - cast and crew interview snippets and behind the scenes footage both interspliced with final film clips - but the polished and more professional affair makes it more appealing than these kind of extras usually are.
Becoming the Hulk is an 8 minute Featurette that looks specifically at the effects used to create the lead character, showing you all the stages in the visual development. Becoming the Abomination takes 8 minutes to do exactly the same thing for the villain.
The Anatomy of a Hulk-Out Featurette covers the three 'Hulk-Out' moments in the movie: the bottle-plant, the campus and the final act smackdown, looking specifically at what was required to change Banner into an angry monster on cue.
Finally the Animated Comic Book is a little bit gimmicky, taking just 6 minutes to show a comic book representation of one segment of the movie. It's nice, but it feels somewhat incomplete, making it more promotional than substantial.
We also get a Digital Copy and some BD-Live Functionality, which is actually accessible for once.
VerdictThis new Incredible Hulk reworking finally sets the record straight for this popular Marvel superhero, creating some decent characters and bringing them together for a plot that actually holds together beyond its action set-pieces. Establishing a good foundation for future instalments as well as a team-based Avengers movie, this is the movie we have been waiting for - and it works as a perfect companion-piece to the excellent Iron Man. On Blu-ray we get fantastic video, a slightly heavy-handed audio track and a wealth of decent extras for fans to plough through. If you are a fan, you shouldn't worry too much about a future double-dip - this feels like a pretty definitive version and is worth adding to your collection. Newcomers who enjoyed Iron Man should also consider this blind-buy material, and if you have any reservations you should see if the trailer sways you. Recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.77
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