The summer parade of popcorn pictures based on comic book characters continues with another remake of “The Incredible Hulk.”
Nuclear physicist Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) was accidentally irradiated in a lab accident, causing him to turn into a powerful green giant, The Hulk, whenever he gets angry. His uncontrollable ‘alter ego’ rage alienates him from everyone, including the woman he loves, biologist Betsy Ross (Liv Tyler), daughter of Gen. Thunderbolt Ross (William Hurt), who’d like to harvest Banner’s DNA to create Super Soldiers. Then a bioforce experiment transforms power-hungry Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) into a destructive force, The Abomination, leading up to a climactic battle between the titans in the streets of New York, as The Hulk fully evolves into a reluctant hero.
Tracing its “Frankenstein”/”Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”/”King Kong” antecedents back to the 1978 TV series with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, the screenplay by Zak Penn (“X-Men”) focuses on Banner as a vulnerable fugitive on-the-run, not only from the law but also from his destiny. French director Louis Leterrier (“The Transporter”) amps up the action with f/x and fast camerawork, pointedly sidestepping logic and Banner’s angst/filled background which is pretty much covered during the opening credits and extensively in Ang Lee’s 2003 “Hulk” with Eric Bana.
Meanwhile, Professor Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) may hold the secret to Benner’s quest for a cure and eagle-eyed fans can spot Lou Ferrigno as a campus security guard.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Incredible Hulk” is a smashing 7, not as good as “Iron Man,” but a credible precursor to “The Avengers,” which will include Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, along with Norton’s Hulk, plus Thor and Captain America, who’ll eventually get movies of their own.