The Incredible Hulk/b>
Directed by Louis Leterrier

Written by Zak Penn

Starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt


The Incredible Hulk

What a difference five years make: Ang Lee's 2003 film "The Hulk" was slow, boring, a psychological thriller that lacked the excitement of a comic book - let's not forget that this is a comic book, okay? But with a new script (by Zak Penn, who also wrote "X-Men, "Electra," and other comic-book stories) and a new director, Louis Leterrier ("The Transporter,") the series finally has some meat on it.

And it has Edward Norton, who somehow finds a way into any character and holds our interest - see "The Illusionist," "The Painted Veil," "Frida" - for appropriate examples of his work. And Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, as his fiancée, does not give the impression that she is working in a comic book. In a word, "The Incredible Hulk" works almost perfectly.

The story begins in Rio de Janeiro, where Norton, as Bruce Banner, is trying to find a job and a location that will not raise his blood pressure to the point where he will turn into the Hulk. He works as a handyman in a soft-drink factory. He is being pursued by General Ross (William Hurt), who knows about Bruce and the Hulk, and wants him cloned as a weapon of the army. Yes, Liv Tyler is his daughter, yes, the general finds a way to inoculate a British soldier, Emil Blonsky (Eric Roth) with some of the serum, to turn him into another Hulk, and now the chases begin, first in Rio, then in Guatemala, then - a university in Virginia. Bruce must get to New York and his friend and fellow scientist Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson) to revert back to normal.

Okay, that's the premise, and how The Hulk withstands the General's machinations, plus bombardment from machine guns and helicopter gunships I won't share with you; just go with the flow. And speaking of that, when Bruce and Betty find a moment of sexual excitement, you can be sure that Bruce's excitability-control watch will start pulsing very fast - too fast for sex, unfortunately.

How does it all end? With, of course, a cliffhanger that bespeaks a new sequel. If it's written and directed like this one, I'll be looking forward to the next version of "The Incredible Hulk.