The Incredible Hulk is an action-packed reboot to the superhero that perfectly captures not only the tone of the comics but also the atmosphere and feel of the original TV series, which adds another layer of enjoyment. The Green Goliath smashes his way to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a strong and generally pleasing HDR10 presentation but an even better DTS:X soundtrack. Porting over the same set supplements as before, the overall package is Recommended for fans and collectors wanting to grow their UHD library.
Poor Hulk. Of all the characters in the Marvel universe, the gamma-radiated superhero seems to have the most difficulty kickstarting a film franchise in spite of being arguably one of the most famous and popular comic book heroes. Even lesser known characters, like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and Black Panther, have found massive box-office success. but the Green Goliath can't even smash a dent of respectability among moviegoers, which is unfortunate because he's always been one of my personal favorites since childhood, especially after the television series with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno. Ang Lee's 2003 attempt was an unusual cartoonish experiment that understandably didn't do the character any favors, though stylistically, it was an impressive and somewhat weighty gamble. Five years later, Marvel, which was growing into a movie studio of its own at the time with Kevin Feige at the head, looked to reboot the series while also introducing the first phase in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following Jon Favreau's Iron Man a month earlier.
For me, Louis Leterrier's The Incredible Hulk was, and still is, an awesome change from Lee's vision, more in line with the rest of the MCU and a general atmosphere and feel that's faithful to the comics. However, what wins me over every time is the filmmakers capturing the spirit and tone of the original TV show, starting with Edward Norton's Bruce Banner being reminiscent of Bixby's performance and Ferrigno not only making a cameo but also voicing Hulk. The opening credit sequence is also evocative of the series, and composer Craig Armstrong even borrows from the show's musical theme for a few key sequences that always bring a smile to my face. With rewrites to Zak Penn's script by Norton, a self-proclaimed Hulk fan, the very loose sequel to Lee's film features Hulk's greatest foe in Emil Blonsky/Abomination (Tim Roth) while also setting up a potential follow-up when introducing Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), who transforms into Leader. Sadly, the movie didn't smash the box-office once again, and any plans for a standalone series have been scrapped, forgotten, no longer hunted by a greedy organization wanting to profit from his hulking power.
For a more in-depth take on the movie, you can read our review of the Blu-ray HERE.
Vital Disc Stats: The Ultra HD Blu-ray
Universal Studios Home Entertainment brings The Incredible Hulk to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Digital Copy. When redeeming said code via UPHE.com and Movies Anywhere, owners are given access to the SD and HD SDR versions while VUDU users can unlock the 4K HDR10 version with Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc inside a black, eco-elite case with a glossy slipcover. At startup, the disc goes straight to an interactive menu screen with full-motion clips and music playing in the background.
The raging Green Goliath goes mano-a-mano against Abomination on Ultra HD, equipped with a good-looking if also somewhat mildly problematic HEVC H.265 encode.
Overall, the 4K presentation offers several appreciable improvements, displaying a welcomed uptick in definition and resolution. Viewers can better make out the finer details in the clothing and the amazing work that went into the CG photography, and there are some moments which are simply stunning, such as the battle on the university campus. However, the best scenes are quickly countered with several softer, blurry segments. There are also instances of very minor aliasing on the sharpest edges in a few sequences, some more distracting than others.
Contrast is noticeably brighter with perkier, more radiant whites throughout, and excellently brilliant specular highlights are a high point of the whole presentation, providing a realistic glimmer and shine to metallic surfaces. Unfortunately, the brightest spots and areas are not quite as tight, narrow and revealing as we've come to expect of the format, and even worst, there is clear evidence of posterization in some of the CGI and a few outdoor action sequences, which can be seen during the university clash. Black levels are gorgeously rich and inky, supplying the 2.35:1 image with silky, stygian shadows, but on the flip side, this is at the sacrifice of the finer details in the background, almost completely lost to the darkest portions of the frame.
The movie has always been a particularly colorful and beautiful picture on DVD and Blu-ray thanks to the photography of Peter Menzies Jr., so it's no surprise that the palette continues to be a vivid, eye-catching display of richly varied colors in nearly every scene. Primaries, especially, are sumptuous and striking, giving the many extreme wide shots of the various locations a lovely picturesque feel, but secondary hues are not quite as dramatic. Granted, viewers can, and likely will note, a bit more diversity, such as flesh tones appearing slightly redder and more lifelike. The fire from explosions burns with a more intensely glowing, reddish-orange while still showing the tiniest detail within the plume and the individual flames lapping at the air. But taking the entire presentation as a whole, it's a small aspect to an otherwise just slightly above average 2160p video transfer.
The Hulk deafeningly roars on DTS:X with a raving frenzy that sends booming, house-shaking shockwaves, sure to drain viewers as well as fatigue one's sound system. On previous home video editions, the movie's arguably best aspect has been the sound design with one of the most devastatingly killer LFE tracks ever. Thankfully, the jump to the object-based audio format continues delivering the goods, pounding away and really testing the capabilities of the subwoofers almost right from the start. The robust low-end comes with a thundering punch and force that will have walls rattling and disturb neighbors, but there are also several moments, mostly in the climactic showdown against Abomination, where it digs hard below 10Hz with enough decibels to possibly damage subwoofers not suited for the job (bass chart). And amid all this resounding, room-energizing devastation, vocals remain crisp and precise in the center.
The added breathing room also allows for a bit more clarity and definition in the mid-range, exhibiting sharp detailing and precision in the higher frequencies. During the loudest, most aggressive moments, the tiniest scraps of metal and debris are distinctly heard flying across the three front channels, throughout the heights and come showering down all around the listener, generating an awesomely immersive, hemispheric soundfield. Scenes with military helicopters charging into battle effortlessly move from the surrounds and pan across the overheads while Hulk's battle with Abomination is layered with hysterical screams from every direction, and the blast from explosions and the sound of blaring sirens echo into the space above, putting the viewer right in the middle of the pandemonium. The front soundstage continuously feels broad and expansive, littered with tons of background activity and atmospherics that convincingly spread off-screen, making for a magnificent, reference-quality mix fans will absolutely love.
All the same supplements are ported over from previous home video release, which can be read in more detail in our review of the standard Blu-ray HERE.
Compared to his MCU counterparts, the Hulk seems to be the one superhero that can't anger enough enthusiasm to kickstart his own standalone franchise, despite being one of the better known and popular comic book heroes. For me, The Incredible Hulk is a fantastic adaptation that mixes the tone and atmosphere of both the original comics and the 1970s television series, but the character, once again, failed to make a smash at the box-office, turning him into a supporting subplot role within the MCU.
Smashing his way to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, the Green Goliath rages with a good-looking HDR10 video presentation that offers a few notable improvements, but the new DTS:X soundtrack is a reference-quality smashing success, especially in the LFE department. Unfortunately, Universal Studios doesn't offer any new bonus features, but fans of the movie, and UHD in general, will be more than happy. Recommended.