Hulk DVD Reviews
Monday, October 20 2003
The following review was originally posted on ElectronicReality.co.uk:
Hulk - Special Edition
I waited for a long, long time for The Incredible Hulk to smash his way onto the big screen, and now, here I am reviewing the DVD. Having already seen the film at the cinema I knew what to expect, and I won't lie to you, I love Ang Lee's Hulk.
The anamorphic image framed at 1.85:1 isn't your typical comic book picture. Films in the past have gone with very bright, unnatural colours much like comic books themselves, but Hulk on the other hand features a very natural colour palette and it works really well. Contrast levels are good, during the infamous dog-fight sequence for example, much of the action takes place in shadow but the image remains perfectly detailed. The print is spotless as expected and I didn't notice any shimmering or artefacts and overall the image was very detailed and extremely pleasing on the eye.
Before I go into the soundtrack itself, I must express my disappointment. For some strange reason Universal have seen fit not to include a DTS on this R1 release unlike the forthcoming UK and Japanese R2 and Australian R4 releases. Why has this happened? Is there another version planned? I doubt it. Maybe space was an issue? Well if it was, why were the deleted scenes and the interactive feature not moved to the second disc? Who knows……
With that out of the way it is my pleasure to report that the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack
is incredible! Gary Rydstrom has been responsible for some killer soundtracks
in the past (T2, Jurassic Park, Minority Report etc..), but I have to say
this is up with some of the best. The beginning of the film features no crash
band or wallop, but from the moment Banner is hit by the radiation, the soundtrack
jumps to life. In that very sequence we are treated to some very subtle but
very low frequencies, and as soon as I heard them, I knew I was in for a treat.
Whenever the Hulk is involved mayhem ensues - the LFE usage is incredible
at times as the green beast jumps hundreds of feet in the air and crashed
to the floor, deflects rockets fired at him by helicopters, smashes through
walls, the action goes on and on….. All speakers are utilised to the
absolute full, and although this track maybe lacked that DTS crunch found
in the top DTS soundtracks, this is certainly one of the best Dolby Digital
soundtracks I have heard.
The commentary featuring Ang Lee is a real disappointment. The director doesn't go into any great detail throughout and there are long pauses where he seems to be sitting back and just enjoying the film! And although the list of additional extra features seems to be substantial, there really isn't too much to get your teeth into. The Evolution of the Hulk featurette is not the documentary I was hoping for, but rather a 20-odd minute piece which doesn't begin to go into the history of the Hulk from Marvel comics. The making of is also all too short, and although does cover the special effects, casting and music, isn't of a sufficient length to appease real fans of the film. The 2-disc set also includes a selection of deleted scenes, a very short featurette on Ang Lee, another very short featurette on the unique editing style of the movie and more. Strangely, no trailers are to be found.
Waiting for the various releases which will include a DTS soundtrack is an obvious option, but in all honesty the incredible Dolby 5.1 track will be more than enough to keep all but the most die hard DTS fans happy. A great super hero film - buy it this minute.
This website also seems to have the Region 1 DVD in stock now, so if you can't wait, click here to purchase.
The following review was originally posted on DVDTalk.com:
VIDEO: "The Hulk" is presented by Universal in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film is largely on its own on the first disc of this 2-DVD set, allowing the 138-minute picture to not have to have image quality suffer from sharing space with too many supplements. This still isn't a presentation without some issues, but it's largely a pretty good effort. Sharpness and detail are usually strong, although somewhat inconsistent, as shadow detail could seem a bit weak on occasion.
Some minor flaws were noted on a couple of occasions. Edge enhancement - in somewhat mild amounts - was seen in a couple of scenes. A couple of specks and some slight grain was occasionally spotted, but neither issue was anything terribly noticable. Colors remained natural and well-rendered throughout, with nice saturation and no concerns.
SOUND: "The Hulk" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Although there are several stretches of this film that are mostly dialogue-driven drama, the film's few major action scenes certainly provide the expected amount of low-bass thumpage, as each one of Hulk's footsteps are as floor-shaking as one would hope from the film's soundtrack. The surrounds certainly are engaged when called upon, too, providing some enjoyable sound effects work during the action scenes and some reinforcement of Danny Elfman's score. French and Spanish 5.1 options are also available.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Ang Lee. Director Lee does offer some interesting insights into what he was trying to attempt with the film and some good stories about the production. However, stretches of the commentary seemed rather sparse and I eventually lost interest.
Hulk Cam: Enabling this feature will allow viewers to click on an icon during various points in the film to see a short clip of behind-the-scenes footage related to the scene.
Hulk Anatomy: This feature is essentially a snazzy way to do text notes - a computer image of the Hulk is presented; clicking on one of the areas will offer a bit of info about the character or, in another section, about ILM's CGI work.
SunnyD: Yes, this is actually just a series of Sunny Delight drink ads.
Deleted Scenes: Nearly 6-minutes of deleted footage, w/o any commentary options.
Also: Cast/crew bios.
Hulkification!: This supplement is the first to be found on the second disc. Four renowned comic book artists were asked to provide their vision of a scene from the movie. Viewers can watch the film's storyboards, versus the artist's take versus the final scene in the film. Bios for each of the four artists are also included.
Evolution of the Hulk: This 16-minute featurette offers a look at the origins of the Incredible Hulk, with information about the early work of Stan Lee. Lee is also interviewed, and discusses his inspirations for the "Hulk" character. This piece provides a good, informative overview of the history of the character (comic, to TV series, to movie) and also reminded of the great "Simpsons" episode where Stan Lee hangs out in the Comic Book Shop and unsuccessfully tries to become the Hulk.
The Incredible Ang Lee: With a title like that, is it any surprise that this is 14 minutes of "happy talk"? Not really; this is pretty much the entire cast and crew talks about how wonderful it was to work with Ang Lee and how great his ideas were. While it certainly may have been great to work with the talented director, that doesn't make 14 minutes of other people talking about it very interesting.
Dog Fight Scene: This is a 10-minute piece that takes the viewer through the development of the dog battle scene. It's actually quite a great piece, as it shows an early meeting where it was found that the fight was bigger than what could be done. Ang Lee speaks up at the meeting, saying "I don't know how much this is going to cost." Another participant dryly states, "A lot." We're then shown the various parts and pieces of the scene as it was shot, with interviews with both actress Jennifer Connelly and the film's visual effects supervisors. There's also brief footage of director Ang Lee in the motion capture suit in the effects studio, trying to work out - literally - what he wanted to see in the scene.
Unique Style of Editing "The Hulk": This is a brief featurette where the film's editor discusses how the "panel" look of scenes was achieved.
The Making of "The Hulk": Somewhat better than the usual promotional documentary, this 23-minute piece takes a look at the film's music, stunts, performances and visual effects work.
Note: The featurettes on disc two have English captions and French/Spanish subtitle options.
The following review was originally posted by Jack on the HulkMovie.com message boards:
So, here are my first impressions about the Hulk DVD.
The packaging is no surprise. The ugly front cover (you really have the impression to buy a B movie) and a classic Universal back cover. But after all, who really cares??
Let's put the 1st dvd in the dvd player and forget about those horrible colours! The dvd opens with....grrrr....trailers for upcoming dvd releases. Impossible to skip them, you have to use the fast forward button, but not too long or you’ll be missing the menus and launching directly the film! Grrrr!
Before accessing the menu, you get a sweet editing of the movie's main shots. The Main Menu is sober but really effective (I especially love the works around the sounds). As I’m watching the movie in English with French subtitles, I’m moving to the "languages" section with an extract of the first hulk out that slip into a still comic-like frame. That’s how works every transition in both dvds and it’s pretty cool; and every menu is, of course, accompanied with Danny Elfman’s haunting score.
Alright; setup done. Back to the main menu. “Play” button. The Hulk moves towards the camera and kicks it. Black screen. The film begins…
The image is presented in his original ratio (1.85:1) as I bought the Widescreen
Edition (please, never, never, never buy the fullscreen editions; it’s
an insult to the cinematographer and director’s work).
There’s really nothing to say here. Perfect contrast, right colours balance, a remarkable precision, etc. This is really a 2003 dvd for a 2003 movie!
The sound is very good too. But, I must be honest, I’m a bit disappointed. Of course, the average sounds more than fine; it’s impressive, powerful and it gives you the shivers sometimes. But the film won’t be one of those demos that runs on my dvd player to prove my friends I was right to spend so much money in a 5.1 system. I know, Hulk can’t be compared to movies like Matrix Reloaded or X². But I was hoping more cohesion during the action scenes. They are a bit too flat if you ask me. I can’t describe precisely this feeling though. Maybe it’s just me! Danny Elfman’s score, like it’s a custom nowadays, is under mixed, and it’s simply impossible to hear it during the actions scenes as an example.
So technically, the dvd is imposing. Not outstanding; but I’m quibbling here.
Now, the bonus materials of the first dvd.
First of all: Ang Lee's audio commentary. I haven’t listen to it yet but I look forward to hear Lee’s interpretation of some parts of the film!
The Deleted Scenes are only of passing interest. I really don’t know what to say about them. Just extended versions or useless lines (Bana talking about life and death in terms of molecules; thank God, they cut that off !). A poor section.
Then, there is the Hulk Cam, a very exciting extra. This allows you to see, during the film (when a little signal appears), the b-roll of the scene you’re watching! You can discover how they destroyed the lab, how Lee is directing the first Hulk/Betty meeting, etc. A pretty smart system of chapters helps you to find the signals.
There’s also the “Anatomy of the Hulk”, an amusing section that gives you information about the Green Goliath powers and physical details.
Finally, you can find the usual “Cast & Crew” part, with bio and filmography.
The Second DVD now.
“Hulkification” propose you to see the “Making Me Angry” (Talbot/Banner) shots drawn by four famous artists. It’s pertinent to watch how a single scene can provide so different types of reading and storyboards. Original, I must say.
“Evolution of the Hulk”. Well…it’s…the evolution of the Hulk ! From the first comic book to the tv series and the film. A lot of those interviews have been seen on the Internet but it’s a well-done summary for people who don’t really know about the Marvel world (like me).
“The Incredible Ang Lee” is a featurette about the director. We don’t avoid the usual “he’s the most blablabla director I have worked with”, “he’s filming it in a way we’ve never seen before”, all that promotional stuff. But the good idea is that people are intervening in the order of the film’s production, so you have a global vision of the director’s work, from pre- to post-production.
“The Dog Fight Scene” is an exhaustive documentary that guides through the process of the scene. The establishment of the budget, the shooting, the dogs design, etc. In fact, it gives you the taste of a real documentary; but in the end, it stays a featurette, with its promotional tone and its short length. Too bad!
“The Unique Style of Editing Hulk”. Short, way too short (5 minutes) and there’s simply nothing to learn. At the end of it, we just know that they used an original approach for the editing. The problem is, we already knew that.
“The Making of The Hulk” is in fact a 25 minutes summary of what we have seen on the 1st and 2nd dvd. Therefore, nothing new; some images and interviews are even shown for the third time. It begins to bore me. The making-of is divided in 4 parts: Cast & Crew (only promotion), Special Effects, ILM (vaguely interesting but too common) and Music (brief Elfman interview and recording of the “Set Me Free” song).
Finally, the DVD-Rom. But my computer refuses to read the second dvd, so I don’t know what it contains.
In the end, I think this 2 dvd set has the same Spider-Man defaults: a very good job in terms of image and sound (but not a reference) and a second dvd that has, in fact, nothing to say. It’s what I expected but it’s still disappointing. It could have been much better. But, after all, we buy dvd for films, not for extras. And in that perspective, the Hulk dvd is highly satisfying.
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