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Apart from perhaps The Matrix Reloaded, there were not many films this summer that were hyped up as much as the Hulk. Fans all over the world were waiting with baited breath, hoping that their favourite comic book hero could successfully transfer to the big screen. Recent successes such as X2 and Daredevil had shown that comic book adaptations could draw in the crowds. Early trailers were heavily criticised for the fake looking CGI Hulk, which made him look more like a cartoon character. However, this didn't deter fans, who had faith in director Ang Lee, and the film opened reasonably well. After that the takings dropped dramatically due to bad word of mouth, and the movie ended with more of a whimper than a roar. Read on to find out if The Hulk fairs any better on DVD.

Hulk Movie
The Hulk focuses on Bruce Banner (Eric Bana), a timid yet extremely intelligent scientist who harbours thoughts of curing people by means of gamma radiation. In a freak accident Bruce exposes himself to a dangerous amount of gamma, which should have led to an early death. Inexplicably Bruce is left unharmed, in fact he feels better than normal and doesn’t seem to suffer any repercussions, or at least none that he is aware of! However, it is not long before strange things start happening to Bruce. It becomes apparent that whenever he gets angry a chain of events occur which transform the normally docile scientist into a green, out of control monster.

Fellow scientist and girlfriend Betty Ross (Jennifer Connellly) notices the change in Bruce, but she has to keep her findings secret as her father (Sam Elliott) is a general for the military forces, and would not take kindly to a green monster running havoc in America! Also added into the equation is Bruce’s father (Nic Nolte), who abandoned his son many years ago, but has now suddenly decided to make a reappearance. He obviously has a burning secret to tell his son, but will Bruce want to hear about it?

With the hype surrounding Hulk, the movie was always going to disappoint unless Ang Lee managed to produce a masterpiece, and whilst he hasn't created a bad movie, it is far from being a classic. Upon its theatrical release the early reviews were unfavourable, many audiences complained about the lack screen time for the Hulk. I caught the movie two weeks into its cinema release, and I wasn't expecting a great deal from it. The movie’s main stumbling block is the poor CGI, the Hulk looks extremely fake at times and in fact appears more like a computer game. That’s not to say that all the scenes look fake but the end sequence is far from flawless. A perfect example of this is one of the earlier scenes involving the Hulk and some savage dogs, where the entire scene is shot in the dark and it is hard to see what is happening. Looking back this was probably done on purpose and shows the lack of confidence the creators had in bringing the Hulk to life.

Hulk
So were there any parts of this movie which I actually enjoyed? Well yes, there were large chunks of this movie which I found very engaging. They tended to be the dialogue driven sequences and the build-up to the Hulk's first appearance was also engrossing. A large part of the credit for this must be laid at the feet of Ang Lee, who has produced some involving characters. The cast he has chosen are also very talented and contribute to some of the better elements of the movie. Newcomer Eric Bana is perfect in the lead role, Jennifer Connelly strolls through the movie having played more testing characters, but the real star of the show is Nick Nolte who at the time had serious personal problems, but still manages to put in a confident and assured performance.

Ang Lee has also done his best to portray the movie in a comic book style, and to some extent he succeeds. Many people criticised his 24-esque (multiple scenes on the screen at once) style of filming, and sure there are some scenes where a simple shot would have sufficed. However, there are also a lot of scenes where Ang Lee’s style of filming is extremely effective and adds another dimension to the movie. A good example of this is towards the end of the movie, where several shots are used on the screen at once to show a huge military operation. This part of the movie worked very well, it created a riveting couple of minutes and also adds a comic book feel to it.

Now onto the million dollar question, would I recommend Hulk? There are many reasons why this movie is a disappointment, but there are just as many good aspects too. If you are expecting a thrilling, edge of your seat hulk fest then you will be extremely disappointed, instead what you will see is an abundance of character development even before the Hulk makes his appearance, so at this point you will be either be bored or enthralled! Ultimately the Hulk is a movie which will split audience opinions right down the middle. I fit in somewhere in between, for me the Hulk is a film which entertains but which I will probably have forgotten about in a couple of years time. Such a shame as it could have been so much more!

Hulk
Video
Universal have presented our green friend on DVD with a nice looking 1.85 anamorphic widescreen transfer, which leaves me feeling anything but angry! As expected, the print is in pristine condition, there are no signs of blemishes and the image is full of detail. In some ways this transfer may be too clear as it shows the vulnerabilities of the CGI, particularly towards the end of the movie. Colours are true and vibrant, the Hulk offers a good test for the colour reproduction because a large proportion of the first half is shot in dark lighting, whilst the final forty minutes are shot entirely ourdoors. This transfer deals with both aspects impeccably. Grain levels are manageable, while this 2 disc release ensures that compression artifacts are nowhere to be seen. If I was to be fussy I would say that the only downside to this transfer would be the use of edge enhancements, which are apparent in a handful of scenes. However, this doesn't distract too much, and overall this is a transfer of true quality. Well done Universal, you have delivered once again!

Audio
It’s not often that region two fans have something in addition to the region one disc, but that’s the case here. When we received the press release for this disc we weren’t 100% sure whether the DTS soundtrack was a misprint, but thankfully it wasn't! Yes you are reading this correctly, for some reason a lot of the upcoming region two discs have additional DTS tracks which seem to be missing from the region one discs. Whether this is a measure to stop people importing DVDs, only time will tell. Anyway, back onto the review, simply put, the Hulk sounds superb in DTS. From the opening credits through to the frantic end scenes, this is a soundtrack which will have your sound system working overtime! However, this soundtrack isn't just about action scenes, there are a lot of ambience noises which also make their way backstage, ensuring that you will be engrossed throughout the movie. As well as the English DTS track, there is also an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track for good measure, which doesn't quite match up to the DTS track, but isn't too far off. Dialogue levels for both tracks are perfectly clear throughout, and never get muffled, even when the Hulk is losing his temper! Universal have produced two outstanding tracks which I would class as reference quality.    

Hulk
Subtitles are provided in English and Dutch. A special mention must also be made to the menus, which I consider to be the best of the year so far. Each time an option is selected you are transported to a particular comic book scene, which then quickly changes to a clip from the movie of the exact same scene. This is a very clever idea, and it works extremely well.

Extras
Most of the extras are stored on the second disc, but Universal have also added a handful on the first disc as well. The first extra that you will find is the Feature Commentary with Director Ang Lee - This commentary also has subtitles which helps as Ang Lee is a little hard to understand at times. I found this commentary to be very interesting, it is the first time I have listened to Ang Lee talk in depth and he has a lot of interesting things to say. There are some long pauses throughout this commentary, but the Lee has a manner which should keep you hooked on listening to what he has to say. I am not the greatest fan of commentaries, but I would heartily recommend this one as it offers a lot of interesting facts which fans will love. Next up is an extra entitled Hulk Cam: Inside The Rage - This particular extra allows you to go inside the rage and gain access to exclusive behind-the-scenes footage from the world of Ang Lee, the actors and the filmmakers behind the movie. Periodically a symbol appears on the screen and once selected you get to view some exclusive snippets.  A Thunderbirds Teaser Trailer is next up and this trailer lasts for forty seconds. It is more of a sneak preview for the Thunderbirds movie which is released next summer. Very little of the movie is actually shown, which was a slight let down. Also contained on the first disc are some DVD-Rom features.

Heading up the second disc is an extra called Hulkification which is quite unique and something which could be built upon with future comic book DVD releases. The extra shows Hulk artwork from four world renowned comic book artists where they were each asked to recreate their own hulk scene. This extra allows you to view the artwork and also to find out more about each artist. The next extra is called Evolution of The Hulk. This is a fun featurette which shows how the Hulk came about, from its debut in comics through to Ang Lee's movie version. This featurette includes some interesting discussions with Stan Lee, which should appeal to comic book fans. There is a lot of focus on the new movie as would be expected, and some interesting bits to look out for include how the Hulk was brought to life in this new movie. This is a very detailed featurette and it lasts for over sixteen minutes. Another featurette on this disc is the proudly named The Incredible Ang Lee, which as the title suggests is a featurette which sings the praises of the director and shows him at work. As expected this is a featurette which has a lot of back slapping for the director, it contains a lot of fascinating clips showing him working, but overall this is the weakest featurette on the disc.

Next up is an extra which concentrates on a particular scene in the movie. The extra is called The Dog Fight Scene and it shows how the scene was brought to the big screen. This lasts for ten minutes. My favourite part of this featurette is shown at the beginning, where we get to see the makers of the movie talking about how the scene will look, and how much it is likely to cost.  The special effects for this scene are explained, and we get to see how they were created. I thought that the dog fight scene was one of the weakest moments of the movie, but even so this is a quality featurette and is definitely worth watching.  As you have probably guessed, there is a common theme to the extras on this release, and next up on the extras list is another featurette which is called The Unique Style of Editing Hulk. This is another extra which focuses on the technical side of the movie and how the movie was put together. This extra is one of the shortest featurettes on the disc and lasts for just over five minutes.

Hulk
My favourite extra on this disc is The Making of Hulk, which can be viewed as one long documentary or in four separate sections. The four sections that are focused upon are Cast and Crew, Stunts and Physical Effects, ILM and Music. This is a very well edited documentary, which leaves very few stones unturned. There is lots of behind the scenes footage, which is intermingled with interviews and shots from the movie. Ang Lee has a lot of input into this documentary, and he talks about his reasons for making the movie, along with why he chose the particular cast members. This documentary lasts for twenty three minutes.  Deleted Scenes are next up and have to be played in a continuous sequence. Each scene is presented in widescreen and they are actually in pretty good condition.  There are around six minutes of deleted scenes in total, and they are mostly dialogue based, and not that exciting. I was hoping for some worthwhile deleted scenes with this release, but sadly what we get is pretty ordinary! The final extra is called Superhero Revealed: The Anatomy of the Hulk, which is an extra which allows you to access facts about the anatomy of the hulk. This is a really cool extra, you can select any part of the hulk’s body and then you get information about it, plus little clips involving that part of his body. There are ten body parts that can be selected. This is a cleverly presented extra and a good end to the extras on the disc.  

Overall
Hulk is a film that you will either love or loathe. It couldn’t be further from the action fest that people were hoping for, and for that reason many will be disappointed. However, if you prefer a slower approach with plenty of character development then you will probably lap up what’s on offer. The movie may divide the opinions of film fans down the middle, but there is no doubt of the quality of this DVD release. Universal have produced a 2 disc release that will rival any other this year. The transfer is splendid, we get the added bonus of a DTS track (something that was missing from the R1 release), and you will also spend a good few hours wading through the wealth of quality extras on show. The Hulk is a beast of a DVD, and on its technical merits alone should be part of everyone’s collection.


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