El Cosmico here, our pal Capone send yet another review...this time for Hollow Man. Read and talkback!
Hey Harry, Capone in Chicago here with a look at Paul Verhoeven, HOLLOW MAN.
In my estimation, there has never really been a film that explores the limitless possibilities of being invisible. HOLLOW MAN comes closer than most, but still doesn't quite cut it. Instead, what HOLLOW MAN gives us is some of the greatest and most mind-blowing special effects I've ever seen wrapped around some very unlikable characters.
Kevin Bacon stars as Sebastian Caine, a self-professed genius who, along with a team of scientists working for the government, have successfully invented a formula that renders living cells invisible. Up to the point where we join the story, they‚ve only tested the serum on animals (there is an opening sequence of a gorilla being made visible again that defies description; it's incredible, to say the least. And when things are made visible or invisible, they don‚t just disappear; they kind of peel away visually. First the skin disappears leaving a visible muscle structure, giving way to internal organs and bones and circulatory system. It's an amazing feat that has made me crave to watch a "Making Of..." special.
Sebastian decides that before he makes the team's success known to the government, he will test the process on himself. The other team members (including Sebastian's ex-girlfriend played by Elisabeth Shue, and her new boyfriend, Josh Brolin) reluctantly go along with his plan. Much like the gorilla scene, Bacon's transformation sequence is amazing. The process is very painful, so we're not just looking at a still figure becoming see-through; we see a twitching, screaming, convulsing man on a gurney trying to break the restraints that hold him down.
After three days of Sebastian being invisible, the team tries unsuccessfully to bring him back. Since Bacon's character is such a jerk to begin with, it's hard to tell what makes him do the horrible things that he does at this point. Has being rendered unaccountable for his actions given him a twisted power trip? Or are the drugs that make him invisible somehow affecting his mind? We never really find out. At least if we knew it was the drugs, we could feel some sympathy for the guy. But as it is, HOLLOW MAN has no one we can root for or identify with. Shue's and Brolin's characters are so stupid for even going through with the experiment that it's tough feeling sorry for them.
And Bacon's behavior while invisible in public is deplorable enough that it may turn you off to the film entirely. We expect a degree of Peeping Tom-ism, but he goes way beyond that here. Since most of the film takes place in an underground lab, the film feels unnecessarily claustrophobic and more than a little, dare I say, boring.
There's a spectacular, explosion-filled ending to round out HOLLOW MAN. That was neat. But the whole experience of watching HOLLOW MAN is a bit empty (I couldn't resist). I enjoyed what I was watching as I was watching it, but I was in no way inspired to think too much about it afterwards. The special effects are phenomenal (and not just the disappearing stuff), but none of the performances are particularly good (most are cardboard cut out expendable characters, waiting to die). I expected more from director Paul Verhoeven, who is one of the great sci-fi directors working today. If you put a gun to my head, I'd say I'm recommending HOLLOW MAN, but ultimately I have no feelings about it one way or the other. Sorry.