Hulk appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For a modern, big-budget flick, I expected better visuals than this.
Source flaws seemed surprisingly prominent. Although these never became terribly distracting, I saw quite a few more than I anticipated. The movie featured occasional specks, bits of grit, and streaks. I noticed a little shimmering too, and edge enhancement was a moderate concern.
For the most part, sharpness looked fine. Occasional shots seemed a little soft, but those occurred infrequently. The majority of the movie was reasonably distinctive and accurate.
Given the story’s focus, it came as no surprise that the film featured a light greenish tint much of the time. Colors were consistently subdued due to that production choice, though they displayed acceptable realism within the design. Blacks were firm and dark, but shadows tended to be too thick. I believe some – much? – of that was intentional, as dark shadows hid the cheesy CG creatures. Nonetheless, it rendered nighttime scenes as tough to see. This was a fairly mediocre image.
Due to the nature of the title character, I expected a lot of bass from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Hulk, and that’s what I got. Low-end dominated the show, especially when the Hulk was on-screen. He roared, he stomped, he crushed, and he smashed. Along with that, the track cranked into high gear and pumped out a lot of loud but tight bass.
The soundfield followed this trend with a good sense of setting. The action scenes brought matters into high gear with elements that popped up all around the spectrum. They moved cleanly and mixed together well. The track offered a visceral experience that suited the film.
Audio quality was solid. I already reflected on bass response, and effects were always clean and accurate. Music was bright and lively, while speech sounded natural and concise. This was a strong mix.
This 2-DVD set offers an array of extras. On Disc One, we begin with an audio commentary from director Ang Lee. He offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Though Lee occasionally throws out decent notes, he lacks enough information to cover 138 minutes of movie.
Lee chats about the film’s visual and editing styles, the cast, effects, sets and locations, and themes. However, mostly he talks about nothing. Dead air abounds here, as do remarks about what he likes in the flick. Very few actual insights appear, and this turns into a dull commentary.
An interactive feature called Hulk Cam: Inside the Rage offers extra footage. 11 times during the film, an icon will appear onscreen; press “enter” to see short clips. These run between 22 seconds and two minutes, 48 seconds for a total of 18 minutes, 27 seconds. These mostly show raw footage from the set, though we also get a few notes from actors Sam Elliott, Nick Nolte, Eric Bana and Jennifer Connelly, stunt coordinator Charlie Croughwell, and lead motion capture engineer Mike Sanders. The snippets cover a variety of shots but usually stick with stunts and practical effects. They’re moderately interesting to see, and the comments help flesh them out a little. I especially like the shots of Lee in the motion capture outfit.
Next comes another interactive feature called Superhero Revealed: The Anatomy of the Hulk. This allows you to click on various Hulk body parts to learn about his superpowers. We also get some simple notes about “ILM Development” of the character and “Statistics” about the Hulk. All of these details are exceedingly basic, and the presentation makes them annoying to access; it displays each screen for an awfully long time and doesn’t allow the viewer to terminate them. Skip this nearly pointless extra.
Six Deleted Scenes run a total of five minutes, 57 seconds. One extends the presentation about nanomeds, while another expands on the Bruce/Betty relationship a little. Neither seems too compelling. Three others are just quick bits of not much – like another with Lou Ferrigno – but one with a teen Bruce is actually interesting.
We also get some text via Cast and Filmmakers. This area offers listings for director Ang Lee, screenwriter/producer James Schamus, screenwriters John Turman and Michael France, producers Gale Anne Hurd, Avi Arad and Larry Franco, executive producers Stan Lee and Kevin Feige, and actors Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas and Nick Nolte. These provide basic facts and filmographies for the various participants.
DVD One opens with some ads. We find promos for 2 Fast, 2 Furious, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Bruce Almighty and Battlestar Galactica.
As we shift to DVD Two, we launch with a multi-angle feature called Hulkification. This lets us see how four famous comic book illustrators would draw the same Hulk sequence. We view art from Adam Kubert, Tommy Ohtsuka, Salvador Larroca, and Katsuya Terada. The various versions cover Marvel Comics style, manga style, European style, and “dark and brooding” style. We can also check out the original storyboards for the scene. I think this is a cool concept, but the execution doesn’t totally work. The segments film the art rather than just show it via stillframes, and the constant pans get annoying. Nonetheless, this is a fun piece.
The DVD also includes five featurettes. Evolution of the Hulk runs 16 minutes, 16 seconds as it provides notes from Arad, Stan Lee, Hurd, Schamus, Ang Lee, and science advisor John Underkoffler. “Evolution” tells us a little about the history of Marvel Comics as well as the origins and development of the Hulk up through 2003 and the movie. At its start, the show takes a decent look at the comics, but when it veers off toward TV and films, it loses its way. It ends up more like a promotional piece than any informative.
We look at the director via The Incredible Ang Lee. The 14-minute and 27-second show features Ang Lee, Schamus, Connelly, Bana, Hurd, Nolte, Lucas, composer Danny Elfman, animation director Colin Brady, motion capture supervisor Seth Rosenthal, visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren, visual effects producer Tom Peitzman, sound designer Gary Rydstrom and sound designer Eugene Gearty. “Incredible” views Lee’s take on the material and his work during the production. A lot of the comments tend toward praise for Lee, but some decent details about Lee’s methods emerge. We see more of him in that mo-cap suit, and we find out how he interacted with various parties.
For the 10-minute and nine-second The Dog Fight Scene, we hear from Muren, Ang Lee, Rosenthal, Connelly, Brady, visual effects producer Janet Lewin, producer Larry Franco, lead and ground supervisor Anthony Shafer and sequence animation supervisor Glen McIntosh. They cover all the elements that went into the battle between the Hulk and the mutated pooches. We learn a lot about the various effects as well as acting challenges in this tight, interesting piece.
Next comes The Unique Style of Editing Hulk. In this five-minute and 34-second piece, we get remarks from Ang Lee, editor Tim Squyres, and ILM compositor Mark Casey. They go over the influence of the comic book format on the flick’s use of panels and split-screens. The show doesn’t dig into its topic in-depth, but it provides a satisfactory glimpse of the editing methods.
Finally, The Making of Hulk goes for 23 minutes, 42 seconds. It provides statements from Ang Lee, Hurd, Connelly, Franco, Bana, Schamus, Croughwell, Lucas, Muren, Lewin, Brady, Elfman, special effects supervisor Michael Lantieri, lead creature developer Aaron Ferguson, CG supervisors Christopher Townsend, Michael Di Como and Gerald Gutschmidt, guitarist Slash, vocalist Scott Weiland, and visual effects art director Wilson Tang. A glimpse of its chapter listings tells you what subjects it covers: cast and crew, stunts and physical effects, ILM’s visual effects, and music. “Cast and Crew” offers little more than “everyone’s so great!” fluff, but the others prove more satisfying. Skip the first chapter and you’ll find a lot of enjoyable information here.
Too bad I can’t make the same claim about Hulk itself. Each time I watch this movie, I hope I’ll finally like it, but that day has yet to arrive. It rarely engages and too often bores. The DVD comes with fairly average picture and excellent audio. In terms of extras, the materials are up and down, but we get enough of them to flesh out the production to a decent degree. Other than the erratic visuals, I like this release, but the flick itself remains a major disappointment.