The Incredible Hulk

Scientist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) scours the Earth for an antidote to the unbridled force of rage within him: The Hulk. But military mastermind General Ross (William Hurt) wants to control this power and will stop at nothing to capture Bruce to obtain the secret contained in his blood. In desperation, the general unleashes a nightmarish beast of aggression whose powers match the Hulk's own: the Abomination (Tim Roth).

After the disappointing release of Ang Lee's Hulk in 2003, Universal decided to reboot the franchise, taking it in a new direction with Edward Norton in the role of Bruce Banner. The Incredible Hulk is a much better film than the 2003 version, but it still has some flaws. The first two acts do an excellent job setting up the characters and back-story, but the third act forgets the characters and relies too much on CGI and never-ending action.

From the tenement-laden hillsides of Brazil to the lush jungles of Guatemala, The Incredible Hulk looks simply amazing in its depth and detail. Shadow delineation is magnificent with inky blacks, and color saturation is just as astounding. The CGI is nearly seamless, which isn't always the case on Blu-ray, and the Hulk looks more realistic than the 2003 incarnation—well, as real as a 9-foot green man can look.

As amazing as the picture quality is, the audio is even more impressive. The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack features exceptional dynamics with foundation-shaking bass accompanied by discrete effects from every direction. Demo scenes populate each act, from the first battle in the bottling plant to Bruce Banner's escape from the college to the concluding conflagration. The Incredible Hulk moves to the top of my stack of demo-worthy titles.

The disappointing box office didn't deter Universal from loading up on extras. The BD-Live disc includes a "My Chat" feature, allowing viewers to chat with other users during the film. In addition, online goodies such as downloadable trailers are available on the studio's website. BonusView features include a "Comic Book Gallery," which shows the original images that inspired shots in the movie, and "Thunderbolt Files" that highlight the characters and locations depicted in the film.

Other supplements presented in HD include an animated comic, PIP, an alternate opening, and some behind-the-scenes featurettes. Rounding out the extras are some deleted scenes, a traditional commentary with director Louis Leterrier and Tim Roth, and a digital copy of the film for use on a portable media player.

Although there are better comic-book adaptations out there, The Incredible Hulk has its moments, and it's generally entertaining. But the story takes second billing to the phenomenal audio and video presentation, and the disc is worth a purchase for this reason alone. Highly recommended.

Release Date: October 21, 2008

Movie: 6/10
Picture: 10/10
Sound: 10/10

Review System

Panasonic DMP-BD30

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Pioneer Elite SC-05 AVR
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector