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The reaction to HULK ($30) is one of the strangest I have ever seen in regards to a superhero movie- it really polarized audiences and critics; some folks really love it and some folks really hated it- it was really hard to find too many folks whose opinions fell between the two extremes. I count myself amongst those who really loved HULK because of director Ang Lee’s impressive vision for the film. Lee created a film of impressive emotional depth, with fully fleshed out characters- yet he maintains the visual style of a comic book, which shows the utmost respect for the original material. Perhaps the reason that HULK failed in the minds of it critics, is the fact that the story empathized the inner turmoil of the characters, instead of spending more time on the action and special effects aspects. Perhaps HULK may have been too much of a thinking man’s superhero movie for some folks to cozy up to…

The premise of HULK offers up your typical superhero origin story, but with new flourishes on the familiar material. HULK stars Eric Bana as research scientist Bruce Banner, who is emotionally repressed due to a childhood trauma- the memory of which is equally repressed. Bruce works with his former girlfriend Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) on a genetics project to enhance the regenerative powers of injury victims. During a diagnostic, the lab equipment malfunctions and Bruce is given an accidental overdose of gamma radiation. Of course, the radiation triggers a reaction in Bruce any time he angered, which turns the rational scientist into a mindless, rampaging green hulk. HULK also features Nick Nolte as Bruce’s biological father David, a discredited scientist, who broke military protocol by experimenting on himself, and passing his manipulated DNA onto his son. Sam Elliott portrays General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, Betty’s estranged father, who has had a bad history David Banner and carries that animosity towards Bruce, especially after his "condition" and anger issues come to the surface. The cast of HULK also features Josh Lucas, Paul Kersey, Cara Buono, Todd Tesen, Kevin Rankin, Celia Weston, Mike Erwin, Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made HULK available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. For the most part, I have to say that I was very much impressed with the way HULK looked on Blu-ray. The 1080p presentation certainly delivers the goods in terms of clarity, dimensionality and image detail. However, it does also bring the limitations of the CGI effects to one’s attention. Some of the CGI Hulk effects do look less than photo-realistic, so the high definition presentation does make that limitation more apparent that it appeared on the SD DVD. Colors are wonderfully vibrant and smooth, plus the flesh tones almost always look appealing. Blacks are pretty much pitch perfect, while the whites are crisp and stable. Contrast and shadow detail are very strong. The elements from which HULK has been mastered are pretty much without flaws. Grain is noticeable in places, but it is never excessive.

HULK is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Sonically, HULK is a crowd pleaser that delivers an aggressively mixed sound design. All of the outlying channels are fully engaged, so sound effects bounce, pan, zip and explode and roar all over the soundstage. The bass channel is explosive and ground shaking. Voices are lifelike and the film’s dialogue is always easy to understand. French, Spanish, German, Italian and Japanese DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese and Mandarin.

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 some nice supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Ang Lee. Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements (requires a Profile 1.1 player). Next are the Featurettes. The Making Of Hulk is a four-part interview based program that runs twenty-four minute and covers various aspects of the production. The Evolution Of The Hulk spends sixteen minutes taking the characters from the pages of the comics to the silver screen. The Unique Style Of Editing Hulk is a self-explanatory five minutes. The Incredible Ang Lee offers thirteen minutes on the director. The Dog Fight Scene clocks at ten minutes and dissects the sequence. Eight minutes of Deleted Scenes close out the supplements.

As someone who loved Ang Lee’s HULK, I am delighted the film is on Blu-ray. The hi-def presentation is terrific, even if it points out some of the weaknesses in the special effects work. Recommended to fans!



Hulk [Blu-ray] (2003)


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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