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Hollow Man

review by Anthony D.



Rated R

Studio: Columbia/Tri-Star

Running Time: 113 minutes

Starring Elizabeth Shue, Kevin Bacon, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg

Screenplay by Andrew W. Marlowe

Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Retail Price: $24.95

Features: Theatrical Trailers, Commentary with Paul Verhoeven, Kevin Bacon and Andrew W. Marlowe, Isolated Music Score, Featurettes, VFX Picture in Picture Comparisons, Talent Files, Production Notes, DVD-ROM: Weblinks

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Chapter Search

The tone for this misogynistic , ultra-violent variation on "The Invisible Man" is set by an invisble force picking up a rat and crushing the rat in an explosion of blood. With nary a lull between shocks, "Hollow Man" concentrates its tale on the efforts of a team of scientists, working in a secret government lab, to find a reversion formula for their brand-new invisibility formula. It seems that these crafty scientists have the ability to make creatures large and small, completely invisible (Phase I), but have yet to find the means of returning them to their natural state of visibility. At home in front of his computer, Dr. Sebastian Caine, (Kevin Bacon) stumbles upon a solution which seems to be stable. To complete the Phase II testing, Caine calls his reliable staff in for an early morning reversion test on the gorilla which we did not see as it crushed and fed on the rat. The ultra-intelligent team primarily consists of Caine's ex-girlfriend (Elizabeth Shue), a younger up-and-coming colleague (Josh Brolin) and a veterinarian whose love of the creatures signals her downfall.

Once the government commands that results be shown, Caine decides in all his God-like wisdom, to tackle Phase Three on with himself as the guinea pig. Phase III, though results in an unstable serum, leaving Caine stuck in an invisible state of being. Of course, to Caine, this is not as painful for a chauvinistic bastard like himself. His invisibility allows his duplicitous nature to indulge in his sexual fantasies by undressing and fondling sleeping women, as well as invisibly raping the stunning neighbor her spies on nightly. When he murders a government official, it is up to his team of scientists to hunt him down and see that justice is served.



This is most definitely a reference disc. The state-of-the-art CGI-special effects are cutting edge and never once appear to be computer generated. The image is sharp clean and artifact free. Fleshtones remain constant, and the abundantly flowing blood is displayed through every hue normally associated with blood, from the dark maroon of blood-letting through the vibrant brick-red reminiscent of slasher films. Night scenes (Chapter 19, for example) show a wide range of stable dark colors.

As state, the computer generated effects are the best of their nature, and "Hollow Man's" extensive use of special effects are presented brilliantly on this disc. Presented in a widescreen anamorphic presentation, properly framed at 1.85:1, the viewer is treated to naturally realized states of visibility: skeletal, burnt, steamed and wet states of Sebastian's experiment are completely believable at every given twist and turn of the plot.

Columbia's reference quality does not refer to the video presentation alone; "Hollow Man" boast one of the intricately detailed, highly aggressive Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks ever offered on a dvd. For nearly the entire film each speaker is given a life of its own, starting with the opening stinger in the animal laboratory tunnel, where what seem to be thousands of animals are grunting, growling and yapping from every direction. The musical score, by the great Jerry Goldsmith, comes and swinging, and pulling no punches attacks the listener with a ferocity equal to the evil presented in the major character. Like the titular hollow man, the soundtrack attacks the viewer and takes no prisoners. The bass extension is played to the maximum; while even the quietest of dialogue scenes are presented faithfully.

Columbia Pictures has nearly overloaded this disc with supplemental features ranging from a scene-specific, sometimes humorous audio commentary with Kevin Bacon, Paul Verhoeven and writer Andrew Marlowe. A second commentary is a true gem, what I hope is the first of many more, composer Jerry Goldsmith treats us to a fascinating account of the music of "Hollow Man," with the added benefit of its isolated score. There is a fluff piece from HBO, "Anatomy of a Thriller," deleted scenes presented by the director, FIFTEEN (!) short, but necessary, featurettes under the heading of "Fleshing Out the Hollow Man" which takes the viewer through the various stages of making Kevin Bacon's character appear under various elements, some before and after special effects shots with picture-in-picture reference - -and, in addition to all of those: a set of theatrical trailers each related in some way to "Hollow Man:" "A Few Good Men," "Starship Troopers," as well as the piece de resistence, the computer-generated "Final Fantasy." This trailer generates enough buzz, and delivers quite a booming bass, to whet appetites for its summer release; and, the trailer is anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1! (Editor's Note: That's my most anticipated film this summer... hope there are Chocobos!)

This is definitely a keeper of a dvd! I only wish that I could warm up to the film as much as it's digital entity. "Hollow Man" owes a great debt to past films - - can we all say "The Invisible Man?" - - but will most likely be remembered for pushing the envelope of special effects further than film-makers have gone before. After a great first third, though, "Hollow Man" becomes quite a bitter pill to swallow as it wallows in its misogyny and ultra-violence. Moving at a brisk pace, and filled with many mind-blowing sequences, "Hollow Man" is sure to please the special effects and sci-fi mavens out there, so pop that corn, dim the lights and settle back in your favorite chair and let "Hollow Man" weave its invisible spell around you.

(3/5, NOT included in final score)




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