Hollow Man

Hollow Man (2000)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, Mary Randle, Greg Grunberg, Kim Dickens

The thought of seeing an updated version of ’The Invisible Man’ sounds intriguing, especially in the light that many of the required effects shots could be done masterfully in CGI these day and as such it is a shocking disappointment that the big budget ’Hollow Man’ turns out to be nothing but a cheap rip-off and unimaginative film. Writer Andrew Marlowe and director Paul Verhoeven managed to turn a premise with great potential into a film without appeal. Sadly the special effects look no better than a plastic high-school anatomy model – these CGI models may be anatomically accurate, but they certainly don’t look realistic in any way – starting the film on a bit of a sour note. Still, ’Hollow Man’ gets off to a good and exciting start during its initial 45 minutes, but half-way into the film, the story turns stupid and into a blatant ’Alien’ rip-off. As in his past efforts, Verhoeven once again proves that he neither has a true cinematic sense nor good taste, splattering the screen with gratuitous violence and excessive gore in a context that would have required a much more sophisticated approach. The characters are flat, the story turns shallow, the visuals boring and the dialogues a notch even below ’Starship Troopers.’

As expected, ’Hollow Man’ looks and sound fantastic on this DVD, but what good is it if the film itself is so bad that you constantly find yourself pondering the filmmakers’ sanity. In the end, all that remains is a movie that leaves you shaking your head in dismay that you have wasted the time to actually watch it. Presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, the transfer on the DVD is clean and without speckles. There’s quite a bit of grain evident in the film, which I found surprising, giving the image a fairly soft look. Color reproduction is good and faithful with deep and solid blacks. The transfer shows some signs of edge-enhancement, but it never gets to the point of being distracting. No notable compression artifacts are evident in the presentation.

The DVD also contains a big 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track. Very dynamic and with a wide frequency response, the track is like most modern multi-channel mixes a good example to show off the 5.1 format’s capabilities. Dialogues are typically well integrated and always understandable.

’Hollow Man’ is once again a gratuitous disappointment courtesy of Paul Verhoeven, and it is surprising how much time, effort and money Columbia TriStar Home Video spent on adding special features to the DVD. If you enjoy the film – how so? – you may find those interesting, but for me I wished the budget would have been sunk into a more valuable title instead.

Here we have a prime example why people are outraged about increasing violence in movies. ’Hollow Man’ takes a moderate theme and twists it into an incomprehensible mess with nothing but shocks and superfluous bloodshed. What a waste of time, energy and people’s careers… and who greenlights scripts like this one anyway?