THE INCREDIBLE HULK (**3/4) - Starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson and Ty Burrell.
Written by Zak Penn.
Directed by Louis Letterier.
First, it's better than Ang Lee's angst-ridden version, and a lot of the credit goes to Edward Norton's Bruce Banner. I really like the trend of getting respected actors to play these superheroes. Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker, Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, and now Norton.
But Eric Bana was repsected too, so it's more than that. This movie learned from the mistakes of the previous. Instead of taking 45 minutes to set up the origin, we get a Cliff Notes cut of how Banner became the Hulk during the opening credits. Instead of Hulk battling the inexplicable - what was that, a cloud of energy Nick Nolte turned into? - he has straight-forward duo villains to fight: General Ross, and the Abomination.
Now I will admit, I thought William Hurt's make-up looked a little silly, with the wide mustache and exaggerated eyebrows. And I wish the previews hadn't shown what the Abomination looks like, since we don't actually see him until the last ten minutes of the movie.
The movie has tons of in-jokes/hommages. We get cameos by Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee (and an ingenious way to get Bill Bixby in there), a reporter named McGee, and a twist on "Don't make me angry; you wouldn't like me when I'm angry."
It's a straight-forward adventure, not too deep, doesn't stick on the ribs too long. Had I written this the day I saw it, it probably would've kept the full third star, but I can't help but remember how I grew bored during the final climactic battle. These summer blockbsuters need to learn the art of the climactic battle. Transformers and Iron Man suffered from the same thing, where the third act was the least interesting.