Judge Ryan Keefer thinks that "Six Degrees of the Hollow Man" would be a swell idea for a board or drinking game.
Our review of Hollow Man: Director's Cut, published October 15th, 2007, is also available.
Think you're alone? Think again.
Hollow Man was a film that made almost $200 million in worldwide box office receipts and spawned a direct-to-video sequel. But let's cast aside bad second films and concentrate on the first one. With a recognizable list of talent and directed by a man not known for subtlety, is it any better in high definition?
Facts of the Case
Written by Gary Scott Thompson (Las Vegas) and Andrew Marlowe (End of Days) and directed by Paul Verhoeven (Showgirls), Hollow Man serves as a 21st century retelling of The Invisible Man from decades before. In this incarnation, Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon, JFK) is a gifted yet highly arrogant scientist armed with a government grant to develop a technology that both makes people invisible and brings them back into the flesh, so to speak. Along with Sebastian, there's his ex-girlfriend Linda (Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas), her new boyfriend—Sebastian's rival—Matthew (Josh Brolin, The Mod Squad). Sebastian manages to realize his breakthrough with animal testing, but volunteers himself for the first human experiment. The experience of doing things "without getting caught" starts to become a problem for Caine, not to mention his team of scientists and the government, and everyone tries to do whatever is necessary to contain him.
I don't really remember much after seeing Hollow Man the first time it came out on video. I mean, sure he's invisible for large parts of the film and all, but after this and having recently seen Wild Things, I can honestly say that I'm finally tired of Kevin Bacon. Not that I'm annoyed by him, it's just that I have this very uneasy, very unsettling feeling of being more intimately aware of Kevin's genitalia than I should be. If I were to be deposed for a court case, I could probably be fairly exact. Even though you don't see it here, you get tendons, muscle and fat, and plenty of them, with Bacon doing what he does. I could converse with Kyra Sedgwick very easily on the topic.
But enough of my phallic musings. The funny thing is, when it comes to repulsion, that's not even tops on the list. The beginning of the film shows a rat being grabbed and devoured by an invisible gorilla, or tiger, or something. Then later, as Sebastian starts to become more and more aggressive, resistant to being brought back to a physical state of fleshiness, he grabs a dog and throws it against a cage, killing it. The killing is done via thermal imagery and dramatic license, so as to not have the PETA people burning Verhoeven in effigy, but that doesn't make it any less cringeworthy or brutal.
This film was nothing more than an exercise for Verhoeven's predilection to see what boobs would do when massaged by an invisible hand, or when a woman's neck is grabbed by those same hands. When Sebastian has a rendezvous with his neighbor, it comes off as cruel and makes him even more of a bad guy, which makes you wonder why the government wouldn't be a little more discerning about to whom they give millions of dollars to. But then again there are many other questions and logical suggestions discarded as being too reasonable for a story that borders on "a snuff film," as one character says.
The extras on this disc mirror those on the Director's Cut and the Superbit versions released a few years back. You've got a fifteen minute "making of" look at the film that was produced for HBO. It has the usual cast interviews with their thoughts on the film and the production itself. Verhoeven, Marlowe, and others discuss the production as well, but the remainder of the piece looks at the visual effects employed to make Bacon invisible. Following that are a group of fifteen featurettes which each run a few minutes (a "play all" function has the total time for these pieces at forty minutes). Much of that material focuses on the effects and test footage of Bacon used to create actions as a man without skin. Even with an hour of extra material, it seems pretty vanilla. Technically, the 1.85:1 widescreen presentation of the film is pretty good. Black levels appear a bit inconsistent but the image remains sharp. The PCM soundtrack is a surprise, with low end fidelity in just about every scene, panning and surround effects when required, and dialogue clear and focused in the center. Considering how unimpressive the film was, it lives up to the previous Superbit treatment, and is one of the better sounding live action films I've heard in awhile. And by better I mean surprising.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The computer effects in making Bacon disappear are excellent and remain impressive even after seven years. There's no real visible distortion or seams between the effects and the live action, and it all looks pretty realistic. At least until the moment when Bacon's team starts fighting back.
The film's effects, which are impressive, and a pretty good audio track are the only reasons why Hollow Man should be evaluated. Now that I remember the kind of dreck that Verhoeven oozed with this film, I'll be sure to steer clear of it, if it airs on television anytime soon.
The court should have seen this coming. Bad movies are associated with Paul Verhoeven, who directed Hollow Man with…Kevin Bacon. All parties are guilty as charged.
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Scales of Justice
• HBO Making of Featurette
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