Hulk (HD DVD) (2003)
Menu Animation & Audio
Seamless Branching-Hulk Cam: Inside the Rage
Audio Commentary-Ang Lee (Director)
Featurette-Evolution of The Hulk
Featurette-The Incredible Ang Lee
Featurette-The Dogfight Scene
Featurette-The Unique Style of Editing The Hulk
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Ang Lee|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
German Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Catalan Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Japanese Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Had it have been made more recently, I have no doubt comic-con fan-boys would have dubbed Ang Lee's take on the classic Marvel hero as Brokeback Hulk. Rest assured, Lee's focus on emotional metaphor does in no way detract from the intense, physical action and impressive CG effects on offer. Don't make him angry!
David Banner is a military scientist who is insanely dedicated to his research into cellular regeneration and the human immune system. His work in 1966 reaches a point where test subjects are needed, but the military law strictly forbids experimentation on human tissue (tell that to the Gulf veterans!). Frustrated and on the brink of a major discovery, he injects himself with a serum that slightly alters his genetic makeup. He's living on the military base with his young wife and they soon have a baby, Bruce, who inherits these genetic anomalies. Before David can work to cure his son's symptoms, his superiors discover the nature of his experiments and lock him away, with Bruce raised from then on as an orphan.
Cut to the present day and Bruce (Eric Bana) believes his parents to be dead. Amazingly, he has followed the footsteps of destiny to become a biochemist himself. Together with his former lover, Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly) they work at a Berkeley institute, experimenting with the effects of Gamma radiation on the healing process. The research is cutting edge, and certain military contractors are foaming at the mouth with anticipation of the wealth such a discovery could bring. Indestructible soldiers, no less! As their research is reaching a crescendo, a weird, new janitor (Nick Nolte) starts working nights at the institute, claiming to be Bruce's long lost Dad.
The old mop jockey is quickly dismissed as a fruit loop, but when an accident in the lab exposes Bruce to lethal levels of Gamma radiation something strange happens, and the new janitor seems to know more than he's letting on. Bruce should be dead, but he instead feels invigorated, as though the Gamma radiation released something inside him. Could it be possible that the very scientific secret he's been seeking all these years, the clue to the rapid regeneration of tissue, has been locked away in his own genetic makeup all along? One thing's for sure; he may be feeling great, but you sure-as-hell don't want to make him angry!
This is a decidedly different outing for Ang Lee (Eat Drink Man Woman), with rapid, comic-like editing and split screens that are very involving to watch. Lee's vision of Hulk is an analysis of a man bound by inescapable destiny, as well as a strong representation of anger and fear as a metaphor for self doubt and emotional sterility. How much of our existence is pre-determined, beyond our control, and what proportion of our destiny is determined by genetic factors? It's a fascinating premise, one that is executed here with flair, boundless energy and riveting performances. It's sad to remember how the film was largely panned by critics on release.
If you're a fan of the film, this HD DVD is a worthy upgrade.
This video transfer is true to the film's theatrical exhibition. The 1080p transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. The slick incorrectly lists the transfer as 2.35:1.
The video transfer has been sourced from film, which is surprising given the entire post production would have been digital. The image is nice and sharp, with plenty of detail visible in fabrics, costumes and skin textures. There's a wonderful depth to the image, which is where this HD transfer truly shines. The CG effects are also very well detailed. There are a great many dark, shadowy scenes present in the film, and these are represented perfectly, with vivid shading and solid black levels when need be.
Colours are rich and vibrant, with no noise or rendering inconsistencies to be seen. The Hulk's green pigment is bold and highly distinctive throughout the film.
The VC-1 compression codec has been applied, with absolutely no visible compression issues to report. The most distracting culprit here is film artefacts, positive and negative specs of dust and dirt are consistent throughout the film. I expected much better of a film of this age. At 99:35 the pale sand and open desert makes it very easy to see dirty specs and even a little telecine flickering. Film grain is only slightly visible on occasion and never becomes obtrusive.
An English subtitle stream is included for the hearing impaired. The text is relatively accurate, while some subs are burned in to translate Spanish during the final scene.
This disc is a dual layered format (HD-30).
There are seven soundtracks included, five of which are foreign language dubs. The default soundtrack is determined by the viewer's selection in an initial language setup menu. I listened to the film's original English audio (Dolby Digital Plus 5.1), as well as the Audio Commentary by Director Ang Lee (Dolby Digital 2.0).
The English dialogue is always distinct and easy to make out over effects and score. The ADR is perfect, as is the audio sync.
The surround channels are used to deliver convincing atmospherics such as wind and thunder, as well as directional foley effects. There are some cases where the score actually circles and swirls around the viewer in a clockwise direction. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel throughout the film.
The score by Danny Elfman is barely recognisable as a piece of his work. Some moments are slightly eastern in flavour, but as a whole this is a score that will coast along under most radars. This film was also something of a launching platform at the time for the largely overrated rock supergroup Velvet Revolver (I'd much rather see Stone Temple Pilots reform, personally). Their contribution to the closing credits ends the film on a cheap note, and was probably thrown in at the insistence of a marketing team rather than any artistic decision.
The subwoofer is very active throughout the film, accentuating falling objects (64:09), mechanical noises, and assorted heavy weaponry. This is a film that demands to be played loud, and the soundtrack doesn't disappoint.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is a decent collection of extra material, all presented in a standard definition, 1.33:1 aspect. There are no HD exclusives.
This menu is as generic as you can get. The menu page is animated with a graphic identical to the Universal screen saver, with audio clip that appears to be from the film's score. The menu navigation is also generic, along the lines of other Universal HD DVD titles. The disc is coded with a handy progress bar that appears whenever the film is paused or skipped.
A standard feature on Universal titles, the screen saver appears when the film is paused for a few minutes or the menu is left to rotate a number of times.
Ang explains his nightmarish intentions concerning the film's appearance, and the challenges he encountered in editing, specifically, how to bring across film's metaphors. He discusses the casting of Eric Bana, and his decision to remove the comic's original cold war plot and replace it with nanotech. There are lots of gaps and it's not the most informative or entertaining commentary, but it's worth hearing at least once.
When activated, a green icon appears on screen whenever a featurette is available for viewing. These include behind the scenes footage captured on set, and cast & crew interviews. When I selected this feature I found that it also activated the director's commentary, which is handy if you're trying to get through the extras quickly. This is a branched feature, so the movie stops to play the featurette. It's a shame these couldn't be compiled into a U-Control (picture-in-picture) feature.
These mostly include unnecessary padding and plot development, so it is easy to see why they were trimmed.
Marvel CEO Avi Arad and Hulk creator Stan Lee discuss how the character was created, by blending literary classics Jekyll & Hyde and Frankenstein to create Marvel's hit comic series, The Incredible Hulk. This featurette traces the character from comic series, to cartoon, to Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno in the massively popular live action TV series that lasted 5 seasons.
Cast and crew gush about Lee's style and brilliance, citing him as the nicest guy in show business. There's behind the scenes footage of the film's production, including his contribution to the Hulk's motion capture. It's also interesting to hear the specifics of Lee and composer Danny Elfman's working relationship.
This short piece concentrates on the scene in which Hulk saves Betty from three dogs, via interviews with effects supervisors and other crew, explaining how the complicated story boards were brought to life.
More on-set footage, as Ang Lee explains his intentions with the film and the casting process, with a lot more gushing compliments about his actors. This also covers special effects, CG animation and Elfman's music. We close with Velvet Revolver performing in the studio.
This film's complicated editing is one of it's greatest strengths, with a unique visual style that demands attention. The comic book style is not necessarily replicated but stylistically it is similar, more like a choreography of frames than film editing. Editor Tim Squyres was given free creative reign over the film's appearance, an effect he describes as going beyond split screen. This featurette was the most interesting for me.
The North American release only includes three language options; English, French and Spanish. The special features are identical, but the Hulk Cam feature is not branched - the featurettes are instead simply listed in a menu page. I think I prefer ours.
The video transfer contains more film artefacting than one would expect, especially for such a recent production. It should have been properly restored for HD.
The audio transfer is great.
The extras are repetitive, but worthwhile viewing for fans of the film.
|DVD||Toshiba HD-D1, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-3806 (7.1 Channels)|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora III floor-standing Mains and Surrounds. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Center. Mirage 10 inch powered sub.|