It turns out Marvel Studios knows how to make solid movies out of Marvel Comics. The production arm of Marvel Entertainment is 2-for-2 in 2008, hitting home runs with "Iron Man" and now "The Incredible Hulk." "Iron Man" has more wit and style, but "Hulk" is a neat thrill ride with an intelligent script by Zak Penn and smart, well-paced direction by the French director of "The Transporter" series, Louis Leterrier.
The film does represent a sea change from Ang Lee's "Hulk" in 2003, which had the temerity to delve into Oedipal conflicts, repressed memory and scientific hubris. This movie emphasizes action over introspection, but star Edward Norton, who reportedly tinkered more than a little with the script, makes certain the hero still broods over the curse of his cells poisoned by gamma radiation.
The film is poised to carry the weekend buoyed by an unbeatable combination of buzz and hype. The franchise is safe -- a worry because of the sharp drop-off after the opening weekend of Lee's film -- and at the end, the Marvel folks hint that they might be thinking of a way to team Iron Man with the green fighting machine.
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