Rhythm & Hues
The rampaging, 10-foot-tall green wrecking machine does some major damage in the entertaining new film, "The Incredible Hulk."
THE INCREDIBLE HULK — *** — Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth; rated PG-13 (violence, drugs, brief gore, profanity, vulgarity, brief sex)

The complaints that many audiences had with the first "Hulk" movie was that it was much more angst-ridden than action-packed.

Luckily, "The Incredible Hulk" strikes a much-better balance between the human drama and the comic-book action that everyone was pretty much expecting from Ang Lee's ultimately disappointing 2003 film.

That said, this follow-up from "Transporter" director Louis Leterrier is not a perfect movie — it pales in comparison to "Iron Man." But it works as a smash-'em-up summer film and is more satisfactory than its predecessor.

Almost all parts in that earlier film have been recast. The actor stepping into Eric Bana's shoes is Edward Norton, who stars as genetics researcher Bruce Banner.

Bruce is trying to lie low in Brazil and find a cure for his unique condition. If he becomes too angry or agitated, he turns into a rampaging, 10-foot-tall green wrecking machine.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Army, led by Gen. Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (William Hurt), has tracked him down. So Bruce heads back to the United States, where he's reunited with former love and fellow scientist, Betty Ross (Liv Tyler).

All the while he's pursued by Thunderbolt and his soldiers, which include a man named Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth). He's been injected with a serum that enhances his abilities and seems to have a grudge against our reluctant anti-hero.

In many respects, this is more of an homage to the beloved, '70s-period television series than it is a sequel to the Lee film. There's even a cameo by TV Hulk Lou Ferrigno, who also provides the voice for the computer-generated Hulk here. And there's also a nice little tribute to late actor Bill Bixby.

But despite some fun action, the rubbery CGI characters still look a little too much like they came from a Hulk video game.

Fortunately, there's more humor, and Norton and Tyler have much more chemistry than Bana and Jennifer Connelly did.

Also, character actor Tim Blake Nelson provides some welcome comic relief playing a character that eventually turns into a villain in the "Hulk" comic books.

"The Incredible Hulk" is rated PG-13 for strong scenes of violent action (gunplay, creature attacks, impalings, vehicular and explosive mayhem, and some violence against women), drug content (injections and references), brief gore and blood, scattered profanity, some crude slang and suggestive talk, and some brief sexual contact. Running time: 114 minutes.


E-mail: jeff@desnews.com