The Incredible Hulk—Universal (Blu-ray)

Video: 4.75/5
Audio: 5/5
Extras: 4.5/5

We find scientist Bruce Banner living in shadows, scouring the planet for an antidote. But the warmongers who dream of abusing his powers won't leave him alone, nor will his need to be with the only woman he has ever loved, Betty Ross. Upon returning to civilization, our brilliant doctor is ruthlessly pursued by The Abomination, a nightmarish beast of pure adrenaline and aggression whose powers match The Hulk's own. A fight of comic-book proportions ensues, as Banner must call upon the hero within to rescue New York City from total destruction.

Despite the long list of talent involved in the original jumpstart to this character, Hulk didn’t turn in the numbers Universal was obviously hoping for. This new pilot largely ignores the first attempt and goes in a more action driven direction with no story ties to the original at all. They’ve stepped up the style and recreated the CGI hero, though I don’t think they did a bad job the first time. But audiences seem to be in the same mood this time around either since this one did about the same at the box office as Ang Lee’s original vision. Either way this one is still a fun comic book ride with intense action sequences and decent enough performances. Lee’s vision seemed a bit more balanced in character development and back story but it didn’t quite have the intensity this new vision delivers.

Universal delivers one of their best HD presentations to date with this one. The previous chapter in this franchise was one of the best looking HD titles out there and this one actually takes it up a notch. Fine object detail is incredible and depth of image is staggering at times. The film takes place over a variety of locations and each adds it own charm to the imagery; from the lush greens and staggering detail of South America to the high contrast and depth of the city. The CG is also a bit more detailed than the previous offering and reminded me of the seamless quality of Transformers at times. Black levels are staggering with exceptional shadow detail. There is just little to fault here with this reference presentation.

Talk about dynamics. The Incredible Hulk has one of the most active soundstages of recent memory with dynamics that extend well into the infrasonic range. Bass levels are certainly system threatening and some moments had enough intensity that I was actually worried how well my walls may hold up. This track makes the most of the surround paradigm with a seamless quality that extends from front to back and outstanding use of discrete surround effects. The action sequences have some of the most intense dynamics I’ve heard in the format and provide plenty of demo material for home theater lovers. An outstanding reference soundtrack.

Universal is continually setting the bar for interactive features with their Blu-ray offerings. I don’ think there is another studio out there delivering the level of next generation supplements as consistently as Universal is right now. They go all out on this one and take full advantage of both the Bonus View and BD-Live profiles. Bonus View features include comic book to screen comparisons allowing the viewer to see inspirational comic drawings that influenced the visuals of the film. There are also complete character profiles throughout the film that shed more information on the key players and locations in the film. BD-Live capable viewers can do a live chat during the film with other linked in friends or peruse the Universal HD site and check out trailers and other goodies for Universal titles. Standard supplements include a host of production features that give insight into the special effects and some deleted and alternate scenes. A feature commentary with the director is also included along with a digital copy of the film for your portable devices.

While not the best comic book adaptation of the year, The Incredible Hulk is still a great action ride. Universal has done a spectacular job with the presentation and extras package making this an easy recommendation for fans of the film and genre. Reference presentations don’t get much better than this.