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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Hollow Man (2000)

"It is amazing what you can do when you don't have to look at yourself in the mirror anymore."
- Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: December 30, 2000

Stars: Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue
Other Stars: Josh Brolin, William Devane, and Kim Dickens
Director: Paul Verhoven

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Run Time: 01h:52m:31s
Release Date: January 02, 2001
UPC: 043396050723
Genre: suspense thriller


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- C+A-A B+

DVD Review

If movies, like students, had guidance counselors I am sure that the counselor for Hollow Man would say that it is not living up to its potential. There is a kernel of a great idea at the core of this movie, but instead of making an intelligent thriller director Paul Verhoven creates a film that becomes all action and very little brains. Hollow Man proves again that amazing special effects without a good screenplay can generate massive amounts of box office business.

Dr. Sebastian Caine (Bacon) is nothing short of brilliant. At the start of the film, he and his team of scientists have found a way to not only make animals invisible, but also regenerate them back into viewable form. Suffering from "god complex," Caine nominates himself as the first human patient and the conversion goes off without a hitch. But getting back proves to be more of a challenge. Not wanting an invisible guy going about giving away the secrets of the experiment, Sebastian is locked inside the lab and comes down with a big case of cabin fever. Like any other invisible man, Sebastian starts offing the other scientists to cure his boredom and it is up to Linda (Shue) and Matt (Brolin) to save the day.

So why is it that Hollow Man fails with such an interesting premise? The obvious answer is to say that the film becomes a bit too preposterous even for an invisible man tale. It doesn't help matters much that we tend to end up rooting for Sebastian because the other scientists are much less interesting. Sure Sebastian is a rapist and a murderer, but given the choice between Sebastian and Brolin's emotionless character Matt...

If the film has one thing going for it, it is the visual effects, which are nothing short of amazing. From the opening scene of a rodent meeting his end to the water soaked finale, there is never a false note. Even in the sequences where both a gorilla and Sebastian are pieced back together the anatomy of the body is so life-like it is hard to distinguish reality. There haven't been effects done this well in recent memory.

Before watching Hollow ManI tried to think of the last Paul Verhoeven film that I enjoyed. I couldn't come up with one. There is always an abundance of style and violence, but never much substance in any of his films. The script by Andrew Marlowe works for about thirty minutes, but then becomes essentially a cheap knock off of every Sci-Fi action movie of the last ten years.

The standout amongst the cast is without a doubt Kevin Bacon. While many may not think this to be a difficult performance to pull off should consider that much of Bacon's emotion must be shown only by his voice. Without the use of facial or body expression that so many actors thrive on, Bacon still does a good job. Shue, one of my least favorite actresses, is nothing more than average in this film and shows none of the ability she showed in Leaving Las Vegas. But the worst performance honor goes to Josh Brolin. Having only seen him in one previous film to this point (The Mod Squad) I am now convinced that any film that shows his name on the marquee is one from which I should stay far away.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Being a recent film I knew that Hollow Man would look good, I just didn't know it could look as great as it does. From the colors to the black levels not a flaw is found throughout the film. Sharpness and detail are excellent, and no pixelization or edge enhancement show up at all. Overall this is one of the best transfers I have ever seen.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English and Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Much like the video transfer, the audio transfer rivals some of the best tracks I have heard. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for Hollow Man takes full advantage of not only atmosphere, but also some of the action scenes late in the film. For example, when the group walks through the corridor where animals are confined in cages dogs barking and cats meowing can be heard so clearly that the cats laying with me actually got up to see what was going on. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear even with all the other noises, and the .1 LFE channel hits hard on more than one occasion. This mix is aggressive, and the louder you play it the better. A 2.0 English and French track are also provided.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English and French with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring A Few Good Men, Starship Troopers, and Final Fantasy
1 TV Spots/Teasers
3 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
Isolated Music Score with remote access
1 Documentaries
11 Featurette(s)
Storyboard
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Paul Verhoven, Kevin Bacon, and Andrew Marlowe
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. VFX Picture in Picture Comparisons
Extras Review: While some of his past films on DVD have been a little light on the extras, director Paul Verhoeven pulls out all the stops with Hollow Man. Contributing commentary not only to a feature length track, but also to deleted scenes with clips of the director in them.

The commentary track shared with Kevin Bacon and writer Andrew Marlowe is worth a listen as it is intriguing to hear stories not only about the production but also about the difficulty Bacon had at times acting only with his voice. The three deleted scenes include the famous rape sequence that got cut out when test audiences objected to the brutality that Sebastian showed so early into his invisibility. The other two deleted scenes are more or less extensions of existing scenes.

The HBO First Look: Anatomy of a Thriller leads off a large selection of behind-the-scenes pieces. The HBO piece is more or less promotional in nature and features interviews with the cast and crew. More interesting are the numerous featurettes in the Fleshing Out The Hollow Man section. Unlike most short featurettes, these show the process that the film went through to get its amazing effects. Lasting only a few moments each, these are the high points of the disc for me. Along the same lines, there is also the picture in picture visual effects before and after comparisons of three of the key scenes in the film.

A 5.1 isolated score with commentary by composer Jerry Goldsmith is also a real treat on the disc. Goldsmith is very well spoken and had a lot to say about the choices of music for the film.

Both the teaser and trailer for Hollow Man are shown with great 5.1 audio and 1.85:1 video. Trailers for A Few Good Men, Starship Troopers and the amazing looking Final Fantasy which opens next summer. Take a look at this trailer and tell me how many times your jaw hit the ground while watching it.

The usual production notes and cast and crew bios round out the extras on this packed disc.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

I am going to do something I thought I would never do. I am going to recommend Hollow Man based on the fact that the special effects and Bacon's performance make the movie viewable. Add to that the amazing video and audio transfers, as well as the nice selection of special features and you have yourself a winner. Recommended.

 


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