DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ***** (out of 5 stars)

    Edward Norton as BRUCE BANNER
    Liv Tyler as BETTY ROSS
    Tim Roth as EMIL BLONSKY
    William Hurt as GENERAL ROSS
    Tim Blake Nelson as DR. SAMUEL STERNS
    Ty Burrell as LENNORD SAMSON

    Rated PG-13
    Studio: Universal

    Directed by: Louis Leterrier
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Over the past several years, the quality of superhero movies has increased exponentially. It all started with “X-Men” in 2000 and hit full swing with the “Spider-Man” movies. Now that Marvel has figured out they can actually make great films, they have set things in motion with their own studio and a slate of films that capitalizes on their interlocking stories.

The first film that really touched on the future of comic book movies was this summer’s “Iron Man.” Everyone remembers the tag at the end of the film with Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury visiting Tony Stark, setting the stage for an Avengers film.

The greater storyline was continued with “The Incredible Hulk,” featuring a cameo by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. There’s another cameo in “The Incredible Hulk” that you’ll only see on DVD or BluRay. In the alternate opening of the film, you might just see Captain America buried under the ice of a glacier that crumbles when Bruce Banner hulks out.

Yeah, it’s brief and pretty blurry, but it shows the overall multi-story thinking that is what is making this new rash of superhero movies so cool.

With “Iron Man” recently becoming a huge seller on DVD, it’s time for the next big superhero movie to debut for home video. “The Incredible Hulk” is a stellar DVD presentation, packaged with three separate discs.

The first disc includes the theatrical feature, which was pretty sweet in the theaters this summer and fun to watch on DVD. It provides a unique, refreshing film that covers the stench of Ang Lee’s “Hulk” from a few years back. The story is simple and loaded with powerful action. Edward Norton stars as Bruce Banner, searching for a cure to his condition, on the run from the military who wants to turn him into a weapon.

The story is meant to be more consistent with the old television show (with the fifth and final season now available on DVD, also from Universal). Banner’s on the run, trying to find a cure. He comes back to the United States to get some help from Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson), who can help him isolate his power. However, General Ross (William Hurt) enlists psychologically disturbed mercenary Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to help capture the Hulk, giving rise to a bigger and badder supervillain known as The Abomination.

Included on the first disc are a small selection of deleted scenes and a commentary track. The real bulk of the special features are found on the second disc. There, you can find the alternate opening with the murky cameo of Captain America, as well as a larger slate of deleted scenes.

The deleted scenes are particularly interesting. Where deleted scenes are often forgettable, these add more than a half hour of run time to the film. They aren’t effects moments, but rather more character development and dialogue. In particular, Ty Burrell, who plays Betty Ross’s new squeeze, has a bit more meat that was left on the cutting room floor. And, as a psychologist who has a heart-to-heart with Bruce Banner in one scene, these are not worthless moments in what could have been a longer cut of the film.

Also included on the second disc is a selection of short documentaries that cover the various aspects of making “The Incredible Hulk.” I read the production notes of this film back when it was being released this summer, and much of that information is contained in the special features, only better because they’re presented in video format rather than simple written text.

The focus of the documentaries include in in-depth making-of documentary presented, a look at how they created both The Hulk and The Abomination, the anatomy of a hulk-out, and how the comic book was adapted to the movie screen. Much of these featurettes focus on the technology behind the production, including the innovative use of motion capture and the physical look.

The technical aspects of the film are quite amazing, including how they were able to capture the facial performances of both Edward Norton and Tim Roth. It’s also interesting to see how both Norton and Roth dealt with the production, with Roth taking on the role of a classy, traditional actor while Norton forced himself into the underlying development and production.

The third disc of the film is a digital copy, which can be transferred to your iPod or other portable device. This is becoming a standard feature on Universal multi-disc sets, which is a nice extra value for the complete package.

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