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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hollow Man
Hollow Man
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Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 11, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Many have said that special effects, no matter how amazing, can not substitute for a story. They're right, and "Hollow Man" is a perfect example. The film's effects are stunning and even revolutionary at times, but as the film went on, I found myself not invested in the story - and as a result, the effects didn't interest me, either.

It's not that the film doesn't start out promisingly, which made the final half all the more dissapointing. Kevin Bacon stars as Sebastian Caine, a smirky, egotistical jerk of a scientist who has stumbled onto a way to make living creatures invisible with the rest of his crew. Linda(Elisabeth Shue) is his co-worker and ex-girlfriend; Matt(the terrible Josh Brolin) is Lisa's new boyfriend. There are a few other assistants, but their characters aren't even one-dimensional, which causes major problems with the second half of the film.

Sebastian is eager to be the first human to try out the invisibility potion, and at first, the results seem to have worked. But when the crew can't figure out how to reverse the process with a human, things begin to go downhill. Sebastian escapes a couple of times, but these scenes are rather short and don't go too far from the main labratory, where nearly the entire movie seems to take place. How about a movie that does something interesting with the ideas displayed here?

Attempts at a decent story completely and utterly fall apart in the second half of the film, which becomes an almost unbearable pile of sub-standard horror sequences as Sebastian goes a bit crazy. Sort of an "I Know What You Did When You Were Invisible Last Summer". This part of the film also reveals that these characters are not only unlikable, but pretty stupid at times, as well. They're chased, whatever - the audience is not given a reason to care about any of them.

As with any Paul Verhoven movie, there's violence here, as well. Only here, it's unnecessary and takes the audience out of the movie; it's intended for empty shocks and nothing else. The script is not the sole fault here; some of the acting is fairly bad. Shue and Bacon aren't too bad, actually. But some supporting actors like Brolin don't even attempt to do anything with what little they have.

I'll bring this review around full-circle to the begining. The effects in this film are remarkable, and quite stunning. When things are gradually turned invisible, the effects are seamless and well-done. But as I got more and more bored with the story, the structure of the film reveals itself; it's just a string of effects sequences hung on a plot that's as thin as air.



The DVD

VIDEO: Tristar presents "Hollow Man" with the kind of quality that they've gained a reputation for. Although a couple of their recent presentations have been less than perfect, "Hollow Man" looks pretty stunning throughout The movie is presented in 1.85:1 and is anamorphic. Sharpness and detail are phenomenal throughout, with a great deal of depth often showing in the image.

I had a hard time finding any flaws apparent in the image. As much as I attempted to search, print flaws such as speckles, marks or scratches were almost entirely absent. I did notice a few little speckles here and there, but they didn't cause any real distraction. Shimmering and pixelation were also not to be found. This is a very natural, very clean looking image that rivals how the film looked in the theater.

Colors are also very pleasing. Rich and crisp outside of the lab such as the golden colors of the early restaurant scene or the sleek, cold colors of the lab, the picture looks consistently vibrant. Really, not a whole lot to talk about here, besides the positives evident in the presentation. Excellent work from Tristar.

SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio often provides the scope the movie lacks. "Hollow Man" isn't one of those movies where helicopters are chasing people or is there really even that much gunfire. Heck, there really aren't that many locations, either. But, the sound designer has made sure to take all of the ambient sounds of the lab and spread them out around the listener. Surrounds aren't always agressive, but I was pleased that they often seemed to be offering something, and their use becomes more intense towards the ending. Bass is also occasionally strong.

What few songs there are in "Hollow Man" really fill the listening space with strength, coming from all sides of the viewer. The score from Jerry Goldsmith also sounds clear and rich. Dialogue is largely clear and easily understood, with no "edge" or problem. Praise goes to the sound designers, who took a film that doesn't have many locations or fast action, and really captured the audio details of the environment of the lab.

MENUS:: Praise to Columbia for making a nicely done animated introduction and not having it take forever to get to the main menu like the menus for some recent titles from a couple of other studios.

EXTRAS:

Commentary: This is a commentary from actor Kevin Bacon, writer Andrew Marlowe and director Paul Verhoven. It's a pretty interesting commentary track, not entirely focusing on the special effects, although certainly talking in an interesting way about how the effects were completed. Some people dislike "effects-heavy" discussions where the participants say "this was effects", "this was not" over and over again. Here, Verhoven offers a very informative discussion about how the effects were accomplished and what had to be done on-set to accomplish what we see. Bacon, who contributed an article to Entertainment Weekly last Summer, if I remember correctly, about his experiences, talks about what it was like to have to work with the green-screen equipment so that he could become invisible. Overall, it's a little bit slow now and then, but I found it to be a pretty entertaining commentary track.

Making Of "HM": Anatomy Of A Thriller: A slick, promotional 15 minute feature, this documentary often tells us about the movie that we've just seen. The interviews with the actors are nothing too interesting, just talking about their characters and light story details. It's neat to see some behind-the-scenes clips, but there's not enough compelling information to sit through the rest of it.

Deleted Scenes: 3 Deleted scenes are presented; 2 have "commentary" in the way that interview snippets of director Verhoven are edited in-between moments in the scene. It's a little odd, but it's nice to still hear why these 2 scenes were taken out.

Isolated Score: Jerry Goldsmith's isolated score is offered here in 5.1, with comments from the composer between music.

Fleshing Out The Hollow Man: Although I'm not a fan of the "short featurette" groups that are included in some DVDs (I'd rather see one long documentary or even be able to hit "play all"), the ones that are included with "Hollow Man"(10 in all that are a few minutes each) are very good. They focus on the different challenges that came with the effects scenes in the film, the biggest challenge - of course - taking an actor completely out of the scenes. The "behind-the-scenes" shots of showing the filmed scenes without the effects and then showing how the effects are done are pretty fascinating to watch.

Also in this section further in are 3 more parts. One is a documentary about the underground lab set; the two others are a short effects featurette with commentary and storyboards for a scene w/commentary.

VFX Picture-In-Picture: Always neat to see, this offers the viewer a chance to compare the before-and-after for 3 effects scenes in the movie.

Trailers: Although the usual suspects are included - teaser & trailer for "Hollow Man"(5.1), "A Few Good Men" and Verhoven's "Starship Troopers", the amazing offering is the preview trailer included. The teaser trailer for Columbia's big Summer 2001 film "Final Fantasy", which looks stunning. Based on how the trailer looked, I'll definitely be in line to see that.

Also: Talent files.

Final Thoughts: Personally, I thought "Hollow Man" was one of the worst films of 2000, but Tristar has done an excellent job on the DVD. If you are a fan of the film, by all means - it's a fine DVD, but otherwise I really wouldn't even recommend it any more than a rental at most.

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