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Although not perfect, I tend to look on MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN ($20) as something of an underrated gem. While the film’s detractors complain the film doesn’t compare favorably to the book on which it is based, MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN works exceedingly well as an entity unto itself. MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN is a pretty solid sci-fi thriller that benefits from the direction of genre movie veteran John Carpenter, who ushers the suspenseful moments with an assured hand. Additionally, the film features a surprisingly good dramatic turn from Chevy Chase, who was looking to take his career in a new direction. Sure, there are some elements of comedy in the film (which Chase handles with aplomb,) but for the most part, MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN affords Chase the chance to do some of his best work as an actor.

In MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, Chase portrays Nick Halloway, a yuppie stock analyst drifting through life without any serious ties to anyone or anything. Something of an invisible man his entire life, it is rather ironic when Nick is caught an accident at a research facility that leaves him truly invisible. While one might think that being invisible would have its advantages, Nick immediately discovers that it is a curse that leaves him truly isolated from the world and on the run from corrupt CIA agent David Jenkins (Sam Neill), who want to use Nick for his own diabolical purposes. The cast of MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN also features Daryl Hannah, Michael McKean, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jim Norton, Rosalind Chao and Patricia Heaton.

Warner Home Video has made MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN available on DVD in a great looking 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Like all of John Carpenter’s other movies shot in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN utilizes the entire Panavision frame for compositional and storytelling purposes, thus making this release the first time that the masses (and not just a few Laserdisc collectors) will be able to fully appreciate this film in the home venue. The image on the DVD is sharp and nicely defined, plus it allows one the chance to appreciate the early CGI effects created by ILM for this 1992 release. I personally love the homage to the 1933 version of THE INVISIBLE MAN in which Chase unwraps himself ala Claude Rains. Colors appear strong and the flesh tones are always completely appealing. Blacks are accurate and whites are clean. Contrast is very good, as is the level of shadow detail. The film element used for the transfer displays some minor blemishes and an occasionally noticeable grain structure, but neither is excessive or bothersome. Digital compression artifacts are usually well concealed.

MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack that decodes to standard surround. This is a rather good sounding track from the end of the matrixed surround era. Sure, fully digital fully discrete tracks eclipse this one by a wide margin, but the sound mix is engaging and well suited to the material. Surround usage is primarily relegated to ambient sounds and musical fill, but there are some active effects that are very well implemented through the rear channels. The forward soundstage seems open and rather clean sounding. Dialogue is very crisp and always completely understandable. Shirley Walker’s score is reproduced at a good level of musical fidelity, without any harshness or noticeable compression. A French language track is also encoded on the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles. Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. How to Become Invisible: The Dawn of Digital FX is a four-minute look at the film’s early digital compositing and CGI effects. Several minutes of outtakes and a cast & crew listing close out the extras.

If you have never seen MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN, it is an enjoyable little sci-fi thriller that well worth discovering on DVD. With this film, Chevy Chase proves that his is capable of more than getting a laugh and John Carpenter shows he can hold his own as a hired gun on a big budget studio film. Warner has done a good job with the DVD- offering up a rather solid presentation that will please fans.



Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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