Hailing more from the pulp-melancholic spirit of CBS's 1978-1982 Hulk television series than its 2003 predecessor did, THE INCREDIBLE HULK wordlessly tells the entire gamma ray-afflicted origin story of scientist Bruce Banner's alter-ego within its first three minutes. This credit sequence in particular evokes (albeit with some cinematic weight) the lo-fi, premise-informing quality that one would find at the onset every episode of a cultish TV show, thus making two things quite clear. First, the Edward Norton-starring INCREDIBLE HULK is not a sequel to or a remake of Ang Lee's HULK, but a reboot equipped with an alternate plot, a new dynamic, and a different set of rules. Second, it is director Louis Leterrier's (UNLEASHED, THE TRANSPORTER) express intention to deliver a tightly wound, economically paced thriller in which scenes of drama and action are not mutually exclusive.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK replaces cerebral family drama with the story of a lonely, afflicted scientist who, at the start of the movie, is already in hiding, training his mind-body dichotomy. As for the Hulk that inevitably comes forth, a previously poetic weightlessness is rejected in favor of gargantuan physicality, and this time there's an equal behemoth for the not-so-jolly green giant to battle. It's akin to seeing the huge robots of TRANSFORMERS face off, only with more muscle and bone. The angst, of course, isn't gone from this incarnation--not if Norton's intelligently passionate Banner and his tender, forbidden relationship with Dr. Elizabeth Ross (Liv Tyler) have anything to say about it. It's simply that this Hulk always smashes before he ponders.
Rounding out THE INCREDIBLE HULK's main players are William Hurt as General Ross and Tim Roth as marine Emil Blonsky, two men in pursuit of the Hulk who, like Banner, aren't so much evil as consumed by tragic character flaws.