I like how “The Incredible Hulk” pretty much ignores Ang Lee’s attempt a few years ago, but still assumes that we know what the big guy’s backstory is.
This time, Edward Norton is Bruce Banner who, when he loses control of his emotions, becomes the Hulk, thanks to a huge mistake in scientific gene alteration. He’s being pursued by Gen. Ross (William Hurt), who wants to find a way to channel all that aggression and strength into a super soldier “ a hint at movies to come from Marvel Studios.
To help with the hunt is Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth); to hinder is Ross’ daughter, Betty (Liv Tyler). Completing the major cast is Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Sterns, a wacko scientist and probable sequel villain.
The whole movie is pursuit and escape, with three arresting CGI action sequences “ the second of which is the showstopper on both the visceral and emotional levels. Lee’s “Hulk” was made absurd by on-the-cheap special effects, a problem new director Louis Leterrier doesn’t have to work around. This time, the money is on the screen.
Zak Penn’s screenplay balances the rock-’em sock-’em with the mushy love stuff nicely. Roth, Hurt and Nelson slice just enough ham to keep what’s in the pot juicy, while Norton and Tyler play the awe and pity without overplaying them.