News

'Hulk': Nice effort, but not incredible

Rene Rodriguez
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

This past summer's reboot of the Marvel Comics mainstay "The Incredible Hulk" earned $134 million in the United States, which is only two million more than Ang Lee's much-maligned "Hulk" grossed in 2003. Although the new version, which starred Edward Norton as Dr. Bruce Banner and was directed by Louis Leterrier, generally received better reviews than its predecessor, the near-identical grosses imply there may be a built-in ceiling to the character's popularity as a movie star, no matter who is in front of or behind the camera.

Although the green-skinned Goliath is one of Marvel's most visually appealing and malleable superheroes, there is something about the character that doesn't come across onscreen (it may just be that the Hulk is a computer-generated effect surrounded by a live-action movie, so there's an immediate distancing effect whenever he's onscreen).

Whatever the reason, "The Incredible Hulk" remains as adequate but unremarkable on home video (Universal Home Entertainment, single-disc DVD $30; three-disc DVD $35; two-disc Blu-ray $40) as he did in the theater, despite the excellent quality of the transfer's image and sound.

The DTS-HD Master Audio track on the Blu-ray version is particularly impressive: When the Hulk squares off against the villainous Abomination on the streets of Harlem in the film's climax, the thuds, crashes and explosions are loud enough to guarantee a complaint from the neighbors.

Whatever the film's faults, director Leterrier's care with the action sequences is not one of them. On a commentary track accompanying the movie, he and actor Tim Roth (who plays the chief villain) talk at length about his shot choices and the overall design of the picture. They also comment briefly and politely on Lee's version and the entire concept of rebooting a franchise, as if the previous movie had never existed.

The movie is accompanied by a slew of extras, including 40 minutes' worth of deleted and extended scenes, most aimed at developing the romance between Banner and Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), and the problem it creates for her disapproving father Gen. Ross (William Hurt). There is also an alternate opening sequence of Banner turning into the Hulk in the North Pole, which seems completely random and unrelated to the rest of the film.

Other supplements include a 30-minute making-of featurette, which includes interviews with Norton, who was reportedly displeased by the final cut of the film and declined to participate in any publicity when it was released, and another documentary that focused on the new and improved computer-imagery technology used to bring the Hulk to life while retaining Norton's facial features. There is also a neat comparison between a sequence in the film and the comic-book pages that inspired it, which proves the maker of "The Incredible Hulk" certainly wanted to do right by fans of the character. Whatever the movie is missing, it's not for lack of trying.

'THE STRANGERS'

A surprise early-summer hit, the nihilistic home-invasion thriller "The Strangers" (Universal, $30 DVD, $40 Blu-ray) is even scarier in the comfort of your living room, where the film's superior sound mix will have you jumping out of your couch repeatedly, wondering if that pounding on the door is coming from the movie or your own home.

First-time director Bryan Bertino (who also wrote the script) uses sound so fiendishly throughout the film - employing both sudden noises and unexpected silence to give you the creeps - it's a huge disappointment to discover the disc includes such a sparse selection of extras. All you get are a pair of deleted scenes between Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler that fill out their relationship a tad more, along with a perfunctory 10-minute making-of featurette that reveals much of the film was shot on a soundstage.

Both the DVD and Blu-ray versions offer an "unrated" cut of the film that is two minutes longer than the theatrical version, but the only difference I noticed was one prolonged shot of a character's agony that was previously excised for some reason.

'HALLOWEEN'

A "Collectors' Edition" of Rob Zombie's pointless remake of the 1978 John Carpenter classic is being re-released in time for the annual holiday (Weinstein Co., three-disc DVD $25, two-disc Blu-ray $35) with the main attraction being a "four-and-a-half hour" documentary - "Michael Lives: The Making of Halloween" - that turns out to be more engrossing than the film itself. Covering every one of the film's 38-day of shoot, the movie is long enough to turn the production's crew members and bit actors into veritable characters and delivers an exhaustive (and exhausting) look at the making of a feature film.

The rest of the extras in the set are recycled from the previously-released two-disc Special Edition, including a commentary track with Zombie, 20 minutes of deleted scenes, an alternate ending and a blooper reel.

___

DVD NEWS

In honor of its 30th anniversary, Warner Bros. is preparing a special edition of the Peter Sellers classic "Being There," for release on Feb. 3. The DVD will include a retrospective documentary, but in an unusual move for a catalog title, the Blu-ray will feature an exclusive assortment of deleted scenes and an alternate ending.

The Ben Stiller comedy "Tropic Thunder" will land on DVD and Blu-ray on Nov. 18 in two incarnations: a single-disc theatrical cut and a two-disc director's cut, promising more outrageous (and unrated) comedic bits. Extras will include a commentary by Stiller and Tom Cruise's makeup tests for the film.

Further proof that the Blu-ray format is taking hold, two cult classics are heading to the high-definition discs. John Carpenter's 1976 thriller "Assault on Precinct 13" will hit stores on Dec. 2, while the terrific (and little-seen) chiller "Dead and Buried" will arrive on Jan. 27 as an extras-laden special edition.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.

Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Music

Siren Songs' Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Meredith Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Film

Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.