A mere five years ago, Hollywood’s first pass at a Hulk movie sent a legion of critics scurrying to their reference shelves to look up the correct spelling of “ponderous.” Yet when word eventually came down that Tinseltown was going to the gamma-radiated well again, we ourselves were cautiously optimistic: Joe Mogul couldn’t make the same mistakes twice, right?

Of course not – according to the same logic we thought pertained the first time someone we cared deeply about cheated on us, and we knew the law of averages dictated it could never, ever happen again. Hoo-boy!

So imagine our dejected déjà vu when we saw the trailers for this week’s reboot, The Incredible Hulk, which show our hero once more looking like an inflatable lawn decoration even Bob Dance wouldn’t let anywhere near his parking lot on sale days. Now throw in the scuttlebutt that star/co-writer/co-producer Edward Norton is so turned off by the finished film that he’s either washed his hands of it entirely or is limiting his promotional activities to carefully selected forums.

Of course, none of this evidence amounts to an ironclad guarantee that Hulk Redux sux. `Read our review on page 30.` But it’s a hell of a set of caveats for a nation of emptors. Make a Saturday-night date with the Greenskinned Goliath if you must – just don’t think about going all the way with the big galoot until he shows you a ring.


Opening Friday, June 13

The Incredible Hulk On second thought, fuck this movie. A few months back, its creators gathered to meet their public at the New York Comic-Con, and the most they could do to distract attention from their impending flop sweat was to trumpet the brief cameo their flick includes by Robert Downey Jr. (not even in his Iron Man armor). Oh, and to exhort everybody to visit the Marvel booth upstairs, where they had installed a 9-foot mannequin of the Hulk. You read that right: Their big selling points were a fleeting tie-in to a movie that hadn’t even opened yet and a tête-à-tête with a dummy. Hmmm … sounds like a studio meeting to us. (PG-13; Universal Pictures/Marvel Studios)

The Happening How bad was M. Night Shyamalan’s last movie, Lady in the Water? Well, it marks the only time we’ve seen a grown critic slam his head repeatedly against a theater wall to make the hurting go away. We can’t promise that kind of fun at public showings of The Happening, in which Shyamalan records humanity’s reaction to a mysterious catastrophe that will probably turn out yet again to violate several laws of basic physics. But we’ll wager you’re in for quite the craptastic voyage in its own right, given that a moviemaker taking only two years to pull himself back from utter insanity is the kind of twist that tends to occur solely in M. Night Shyamalan stories. (R; 20th Century Fox)


Available Tuesday, June 17

The Nude Bomb One week before Steve Carell’s high-profile turn as Maxwell Smart hits theaters, here comes a reminder that a theatrical adaptation of Get Smart was already attempted a quarter-century ago. Let’s just say that Carell may not have as big a shoe phone to fill as some folks think. (Universal)

Caramel In this French/Lebanese import, a Beirut beauty salon is the nexus point for manifestations of complex sexual and cultural mores. Don’t let on, but we just told Wikipedia that it’s a prequel to You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. (Lionsgate)

Super High Me With no apologies to Morgan Spurlock, funnyman Doug Benson spends a month trying to avoid smoking weed, then another inhaling every bud he can find. We knew something like this would happen when Spurlock took his eye off America’s basements and went chasing bin Laden. (Universal)

So I Married an Axe Murderer (Deluxe Edition) More canny timing: Next week’s The Love Guru is heralded by a memento of that shining moment when Mike Myers’ audience was a small and nonthreatening cult. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)


Available Tuesday, June 17

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl Billie Holiday and other ’30s artists provide the musical accompaniment to the upcoming period piece, in which Abigail Breslin escapes from Nim’s Island to try to prove she’s still your Little Miss Sunshine. (New Line Records)


Hellboy II: The Golden Army (novelization; available Tuesday, June 17); Hellboy II: The Art of the Movie (Wednesday, June 18) The first Hellboy movie was something of a letdown, eschewing the eerie tone of Mike Mignola’s comics for an almost Ghostbusters-esque lunacy. In the interim, director Guillermo del Toro won three Oscars for Pan’s Labyrinth, but that’s not the only reason we expect this new HB outing to be a marked improvement over the last. It’s just a gut feeling we have, OK? And don’t mention the Hulk. (Dark Horse)

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