I must be crazy, but I kinda liked Hulk! Although, this is coming from the kid who faithfully watched the old CBS show and loved every damn minute of it. When Universal decided they were going to make a big-screen adaptation, with a computer created green machine, so be it. I fell for the trailers, and everything else. So when it came out to theaters, it seemed like the consensus result was: ï¿½Blah!ï¿½ in large part to said CG leading man/monster. But at the end of the day, it doesnï¿½t seem like he takes up much of the movie, and the action scenes arenï¿½t hurt by his presence, some of them look very good. Ang Lee (of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon lore) took the $100+ million production and made it a watchable film. Some scenes have comic-book paneling to them, either in a new scene altogether or a different angle of the same scene. Despite what some have said about this, I didnï¿½t think it was so bad, and since it was done on mostly the action, they escape your eye quite a bit.
To sum things up in a nutshell, Bruce Banner (Eric Bana, Black Hawk Down) is studying radioactive effects on DNA when a lab experiment that should have killed him triggers his change into the green giant. Unbeknownst to him, his father David (Nick Nolte, Blue Chips) had experimented on his immune system when he was a toddler, and he was responsible for the change. He tries to stay calm with the help of Betty Ross (Jennifer Connelly, House of Sand and Fog), whose father is familiar with the older Bannerï¿½s work when the two worked on the same Army base. The General, played by Sam Elliott (We Were Soldiers) will do what he can to try and prevent a potential situation for the public. In terms of story, I thought it was OK. Instead of showing us how cool the Hulk powers are (probably an easy way out), we see Bruce try to figure out what happens to him, and confronting his father about it. I can understand tackling this aspect of the story, since just showing us the Hulk canï¿½t make a 90 minute movie.
But there are three points of this movie that even I have some sore spots with. The first, coincidentally, is the length of this movie. At 138 minutes, this is just plain too long. I hope we donï¿½t see a trend of Hollywood thinking too close-minded, and making action films that are 30 minutes too long with very little story to back that runtime. With Hulk making over $130 million, I doubt Iï¿½ll get my wish. I see what Lee was trying to do with that time, but I think some cuts could have been made. Second is the CG created dogs that fight the Hulk in the movie; who honestly thought that an amped-up rabid poodle would inspire fear in the hearts and minds of the American moviegoing public? Did anyone question this as it was being worked on? Itï¿½s a frigginï¿½ poodle! Third is the dogsï¿½ owner Nolte. Nolte seems to play it a bit over the top for my liking in this one, particularly at the end of the movie. And considering they show David experimenting on an infant Bruce in the first 10 minutes of the movie, we all kinda assume heï¿½s playing a bad guy, no need for some of the overacting I saw from him in here. But by and large, I think this is a better movie than many give it credit for, and itï¿½s worth a second look. I think it itï¿½s earned a bit of a cult-like following.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen looks as good as everyone has been saying, and thatï¿½s saying something, considering I thought the Hulk would appear a lot more fuzzy and strange a la the Spider-Man effects. There was much more detail here than I thought, and Universalï¿½s transfer looks very well done, and in HD makes you want to slap someone, itï¿½s that damn good.
The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 also sounds excellent as well. For instance, the scene where the Hulk is doing the hammer throw event with the tank does a magnificent job of reproducing those effects through all of the speakers, putting you in the middle of the action, and the other scenes sound good too, much more active than I remember.
Lately, Universal seems to be putting out a pretty good disc as far as picture and sound, but lacking somewhat on the extras. And in this case, I think some of the extras from the two disc version were dropped for the HD release. Lee provides a commentary track, but because of the filmï¿½s length, it does hurt a bit with him not having someone to discuss things with, as a lot of dead air is apparent. He does provide some insight into the film and working with actors, and his experiences on working in a big budget release. There are other features, starting with Hulk Cam: Inside the Rage, which is basically a branching version of the film a la X-Men 1.5, full of small behind the scenes footage and other miscellaneous film clips. ï¿½Superhero Revealed: The Anatomy of the Hulkï¿½ provides facts both on the Hulk and on the ILM effort to create him. The screens themselves were fairly busy and were hard to follow at times, and at 4 or 5 facts on each section, a lot of work for a little material. Almost 6 minutes of deleted scenes follow, with 6 scenes, none of which really add to the already long story. ï¿½The Evolution of the Hulkï¿½ is a 15 minute look at the comic, as well as the various incarnations itï¿½s taken on, from cartoon to the Lou Ferrigno show. The requisite interviews by creator Stan Lee on the creation of the character, why heï¿½s green, etc., appear also, as well as a brief look at how the film came together. The Incredible Ang Lee takes a look at the director and his philosophy, how involved he was in the project, and everyoneï¿½s thoughts of him. This piece is notable for the shirt Nolte is wearing here. What the hell is going on? A 10 minute look at the Dog Fight scene comes next, as we find out the final fight scene was about ï¿½ of what Lee wanted? The fight itself was interminable quite frankly at its length in the film. But you see the storyboards, animatics, and dogs in motion capture suits (speaking of weird sights). The Unique Style of Editing Hulk takes a look at the comic book appearance in the film. The Making of Hulk is broken down into 4 6 minute sections (or you can play all). The cast and crew section is more of what weï¿½ve already seen, the stunts and special effects section delves into how the stunts are supposed to mix with the CG effects, the ILM section shows you some PC created Hulks and looks at the tank tossing sequence, and the music section features Danny Elfmanï¿½s work on the score.
On its own, the video and audio are excellent and warrant a second viewing to the movie buyers (and HD-DVD owners) who might have previously dismissed the film, and the price may be cheap enough to warrant a purchase. Some may consider it a reference quality disc for HD-DVD, and I wonï¿½t put up a fight on that argument.
Special Features List
- Director Commentary
- Making of Featurettes
- Visual Effects Breakdowns