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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Memoirs of an Invisible Man (Blu-ray)
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // PG-13 // July 24, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted July 13, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Along with Disorganized Crime, I also have a fondness for Memoirs of an Invisible Man, the 1992 sci-fi comedy. I'm not as passionate about the latter as the former, but the common bond I have between both films is I not get the chance to go down memory road and see how the film holds up.

Robert Collector (Red Heat) wrote a screenplay for the film (there had been some resistance to William Goldman's initial script) and John Carpenter (Big Trouble in Little China) directed. Nick Halloway (Chevy Chase, Spies Like Us) is a successful yet shallow stock analyst living in the Bay Area. Through a mutual friend he meets Alice (Daryl Hannah, Kill Bill) and their brief encounter is memorable for both, until Nick decides to drink afterwards and wakes up hungover. He attends a meeting at a biotech company but decides to find some room to fall asleep and through a combination of circumstances unbeknownst to Nick, the company is working on a technology to make people invisible. The machinery malfunctions and everyone evacuates but the sleeping Nick. Further still, the company appears to be doing work for the CIA and an operative named David Jenkins (Sam Neill, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) attempts to clean up the resulting scene. Nick tries to avoid being caught and exploited by the CIA while trying to reunite with Alice, all throughout remaining transparent to everyone.

With computer-generated effects being a near universal rule in some manner or fashion, it's easy to forget that films like this or Who Framed Roger Rabbit had to clear some Apollo-like technological challenges to accomplish their desired goals. For this film, Chase frequently was submerged in blue paint, makeup and contact lenses to achieve the looks of invisibility for a three-dimensional perspective. Hannah, Neill and the ensemble had to play off of those actions. The amount of practical action required to bridge the gap for the film was evidently immense, and for their time, the results are impressive.

The film tackles an interesting and seldom discussed (to my knowledge) aspect of invisibility, those being the downsides of it. You can do stuff like get into whatever place you want and see whatever you want to see, but it's a life without fulfillment. Even for a shallow guy like Nick, it's a sad, depressing life and in a departure from his work at the time, Chase conveys this sadness very well. The scenes and storyline with Hannah feel genuine and sweet as Alice tries to provide some sort of comfort for Nick.

But it provides a conflict that gets convoluted (Neill is great, and we even get a Stephen Tobolowsky appearance as his boss). For a Carpenter film you'd expect a little darkness thematically and you get it, but many of the comedic-intended moments fall short. Maybe if the film's original director Ivan Reitman hadn't reversed course on directing then it would be a different film, though in Reitman's defense Collector's revision of the script took a reported large amount of comedy out of the mix. Chase apparently had had some say in the matter and perhaps after a quarter century he has some new thoughts on the subject. But casting him as a dark almost action protagonist was way too large a leap to make. He's not bad as the invisible man, but for this invisible man movie, someone else should have held the reins.

Overall it remains nice to get into some films of my youth while others just don't hold up to the test of time. Memoirs of an Invisible Man falls into the latter grouping. Sure, the visual effects are a bit of a milestone in cinema (to clarify further the speed of technology's progress, remember how we were all blown away when we saw the Forrest Gump trailer the first time? That was 3 years later), but it's not really resonant past that, save for a change of pace performance by its star and romantic lead. I wish it were better than that, but it's not.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

A new 2K remaster from the interpositive is presented for this 2.35:1 widescreen treat and the results are nice. Exterior shots look very good, with colors appearing natural as do flesh tones. The park sequence where Nick confronts the doctor who created this science include the sun shining overhead while greens and browns in the background. Film grain is present in many scenes as well and evening shots have accurate black levels. The new remaster isn't a revelation, but it does make the film look nice during viewing.

The Sound:

Two-channel DTS-HD for your listening pleasure, with the results sounding as good as they're going to. Action sequences possess a little bit of channel panning (like cars whizzing by onscreen), and even flirt with some low end (on the big building disappearing sequence filling up the two speakers with sonic activity). When Alice and Nick are in the rainstorm it sounds clear, and dialogue is consistent throughout. Given the dynamic moments in the film a 5.1 surround soundtrack may have been in order, but this one is fine regardless.

The Extras:

There's a little material here, all of it comes from the time of production, starting with "How to Become Invisible" (4:11), which looks at the computer effects of the era with those involved in making them, as they talk about the challenges involved and the progress of it, along with some moments in the film that show the effects off. Interviews with Carpenter, Chase and Hannah follow (5:23), some of it on the junket, some of it on set, as they talk about their respective appeals to the film, and thoughts on each other to boot. Some behind the scenes footage (5:07) comes without narration and shows the production getting ready for various scenes, without any voiceover. The outtakes (3:09) are actually deleted scenes and are OK, and the trailer (2:01) and ten TV spots (4:11) round out the lot in what appears to essentially be a port of extras from the 2003 release.

Final Thoughts:

Scream Factory does right by Memoirs of an Invisible Man with a remastered transfer but does little else with the film that serves as an appreciation or reconsideration of its place in cinema. The film looks good and sounds fine, and the extras are nice to have, but nothing new for this one seems like a missed opportunity, even if the final product remains subpar.

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