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December 12, 2006

The Hulk HD-DVD Review

The following was originally posted on HighDefDigest.com:

Hulk (HD DVD)

Universal Studios Home Video / 2003 / 138 Minutes / Rated PG-13
Street Date: December 12, 2006
List Price: $29.98 (Buy it at Amazon and save)

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Hulk' looks fantastic on HD DVD. I'm tempted to give it five stars for picture quality, despite the fact that I'm sure someone will email me, complaining that I missed that one dead pixel in frame 38,394. But fuck it, I will give it five stars -- 'Hulk' is truly one of the best catalog releases I've ever seen on either next-gen format.

Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and 1080p/VC-1 video, every element of the presentation is demo quality. The source material is pristine, and apparently Universal has been keeping 'Hulk's HD master in some sort of Fort Knox vault on the studio lot. Blacks, contrast, colors -- perfect. Hues are wonderfully smooth and clean, but not over- or under-saturated. Depth, detail and sharpness are all wonderful -- this is the kind of thoroughly three-dimensional high-def transfer that I imagined all HD DVD titles would be like when I first heard of the format. Universal is also to be commended for a tip-top job on the encode, which suffers from no noticeable compression artifacts or intrusive edge enhancement. I just can't find a single thing to complain about with this presentation. Stand back, 'King Kong' and 'Batman Begins' -- you have a new challenger to the throne of HD DVD supremacy.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

He lives! He breathes! He smashes things! That Hulk sure loves to throw temper tantrums of mass destruction, and it's all the more enjoyable in Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1. Okay, so maybe it is not Dolby TrueHD, but 'Hulk' still sounds terrific thanks to a full 1.5mbps encode and the film's aggressive sound design.

An excellent, enveloping 360-degree soundfield is created almost constantly during the film. Discrete effects ping-pong all over the place, especially during the Hulk's third-act rampage. Imaging is as transparent as you're going to get on a lossy format, and clarity of tone in the rears excellent. Dynamics are top-notch, and low bass is incredibly deep and forceful. Even the fairly typical Danny Elfman score booms to life, with a vibrancy lacking in the standard resolution Dolby Digital track. Oddly, though, for such a dialogue-driven movie, the center channel is so pronounced it sometimes comes off as a bit too loud for the mix. Certainly though, that's better than speech being too quiet, and I never missed a word.

For the complete article, click here.

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