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An extroverted, interactive 'Hulk'

October 19, 2008|Noel Murray

The Incredible Hulk

Universal, $29.98/$34.98; Blu-Ray, $39.98

Marvel Comics' reboot of the Hulk franchise might not have met with the same wildly enthusiastic reception that greeted the company's “Iron Man” earlier in the summer, but the Edward Norton-starring, Louis Leterrier-directed "The Incredible Hulk" was definitely more of a crowd-pleaser than Ang Lee's pensive 2003 take on the green giant. Rather than dwelling on the internal struggles of a man who becomes a monster when enraged, Leterrier's Hulk emphasizes slam-bang good-versus-evil action -- an early sequence set in the favelas of Brazil is particularly impressive. The three-disc special edition DVD includes a Leterrier/cast commentary and extensive behind-the-scenes featurettes; the Blu-Ray edition also adds interactive features that allow viewers to examine background material on "The Incredible Hulk" while watching the film.

The Strangers

Universal, $29.98; Blu-Ray, $39.98

One of the most acclaimed horror films of 2008 -- not a hard prize to win, frankly -- Bryan Bertino's "The Strangers" works as a kind of “Funny Games” without the post-modern tease. A bickering young couple (played by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) returns home late from a party and are then assaulted by a trio of masked home invaders. Subtle and creepy before it turns gory and shocking, "The Strangers" effectively exploits the sinking feeling that doom is just a door-knock away. The DVD adds deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

Flight of the Red Balloon

IFC, $24.95

When Taiwanese art-house favorite Hou Hsiao-Hsien was invited to remake Albert Lamorisse's classic short film "The Red Balloon," he shrugged off a literal re-do and instead created this heart-rending slice-of-life about a Parisian boy who clings to his Chinese nanny in the absence of his overworked single mother (played by Juliette Binoche). Lamorisse's symbolic balloon still appears -- sometimes as a balloon, and sometimes as blobs of light or pieces of clothing -- though rather than representing the innocence of childhood, it now stands for everything in a child's life that comes and goes, fleetingly. Typical of Hou, "Flight of the Red Balloon" is too ponderous at times, but when it connects, it devastates. The DVD makes no attempt to spoil the movie's sense of wonder; it contains no special features.

James Bond Blu-Ray Collection: Dr. No / Die Another Day / Live and Let Die / For Your Eyes Only / From Russia with Love / Thunderball

MGM, $34.98 each

Agent 007 makes the transition to high definition with MGM's first wave of Blu-Ray James Bond titles, available separately or in two three-movie volumes. As far as special features go, the Blu-Ray Bonds mostly carry over the superior assortment of commentary tracks, original promotional material and recent interviews that made the DVD editions so stellar. But each film has undergone a frame-by-frame restoration, making the glint of Bond's gun and the boom of John Barry's score more arresting than ever.

And . . .

"Casino Royale: 40th Anniversary Edition" (MGM, $19.98); "Knight Rider: The Complete Series" (Universal, $139.98); "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series" (Warner Bros., $199.92); "Missing" (Criterion, $39.95).

-- Noel Murray

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