HOLLOW MAN ($25) is a movie that a lot of people did not like, and personally, I feel that the movie didn't deserve a lot of the negativity expressed against it. While I'm not saying that HOLLOW MAN is a great cinematic expression, this movie is a logical progression from the original motion picture adaptation of THE INVISIBLE MAN. In the original film, the central character's invisibility lead to madness and mayhem- HOLLOW MAN just takes that madness and mayhem to a level where THE INVISIBLE MAN wasn't able to go back in the 1930s. Sure, there are times that the film goes way too far, but at least HOLLOW MAN acknowledges the voyeuristic implications of invisibility- something that almost every male would take advantage of, if given the opportunity. However, where the central character's voyeurism ultimately leads is something that may have been better left on the cutting room floor.
HOLLOW MAN stars Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Caine, a brilliant scientist whose personal flaws include delusions of grandeur and dealing with women. As the film starts out, we learn that Caine is the leader of a team of scientists working on a project for the military, which involves creating the ultimate camouflage for soldiers- namely invisibility. The team has been quite successful in their endeavor, with a menagerie of invisible animals serving as proof. However, the scientists find themselves hitting a brick wall when it comes to restoring the animal's visibility. Eventually Caine's brilliance once again bubbles to the surface, with the scientist uncovering the secret of restoring the team's gorilla test subject to the visible realm.
However, much to the dismay of team members Linda McKay (Elisabeth Shue) and Matthew Kensington (Josh Brolin), Caine decides to keep the news of their breakthrough from their military benefactors. Knowing that it would be years before the military would allow a test on a human subject, Caine cajoles McKay and Kensington into testing the process on him. Caine quickly vanishes as the first phase of the experiment, however the formula that restored the gorilla's visibility proves ineffective on humans. As the team tries to come up with a solution to their ill-conceived human experiment, Caine's inherent character flaws uncontrollably rise to the surface as he begins to slip into insanity. Unwilling to spend the rest of his life as a lab rat, Caine begins to eliminate all evidence of the human experiment, which includes all of the witnesses to his scientific debacle. At this point, the plot of HOLLOW MAN turns predictable, but the movie has some astonishingly good special effects that make one forget that they have seen this type of scenario in countless suspense movie that involve an "unseen" killer. Director Paul Verhoeven plays up the shocks and gratuitous violence, but would you expect anything less from the director of ROBOCOP, STARSHIP TROOPERS and BASIC INSTINCT? The cast of HOLLOW MAN also includes Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Joey Slotnick, Mary Randle and William Devane.
Columbia TriStar Home Video has done a truly fantastic job of transcribing HOLLOW MAN to DVD. HOLLOW MAN has been given a meticulous 1.85:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer is absolutely first rate and the image on the certainly enters the realm of demonstration quality. Like any new big budget Hollywood movie coming off of theatrical release, the image and film element used for the transfer are flawless. The picture is razor sharp and minutely detailed, which only serves to make many of the CGI effects look even better. Colors are very vibrant, without ever appearing over saturated, plus the flesh tones are always appealing. There is no evidence of chromatic distortion or bleeding during the presentation. Blacks are right on the money and the image boasts a marvelous amount of shadow detail and depth. Digital compression artifacts are perfectly concealed by excellent dual layer authoring.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is every bit as good as the impressive image quality. Mixed to be loud and aggressive, the track makes the most of the discrete encoding. Split surround effects are prominent, but not in such a way that they distract one from the forward soundstage. There is clean channel separation across the front, with effective panning of effects. Dialogue reproduction is crisp and fully intelligible; despite some heave barrages of sounds throughout the course of the movie. The bass channel has a lot of strong, low energy that comes into play during the film’s key moments. Jerry Goldsmith provides another terrific score that is beautifully recorded and mixed into the soundtrack. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, along with English and French subtitles.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a very nice complement of supplements. Director Paul Verhoeven, Actor Kevin Bacon and Screenwriter Andrew W. Marlowe are on hand for a running audio commentary, which fans will find fairly entertaining, as well as providing the nuts and bolts of special effects laden production. Another treat is having Jerry Goldsmith's score on an isolated 5.1 channel track, with the composer providing his own commentary during gaps in the music.
Also included on the DVD is the 20-minute HBO First Look special Hollow Man: Anatomy Of A Thriller, which includes a look behind the scenes, as well as cast and crew interviews. There are three deleted scenes on the DVD, that are little more than extensions of existing scenes that were trimmed to improve pacing. The deleted scenes also include a director's commentary. Fleshing Out The Hollow Man are 15 short behind-the-scenes featurettes that look at the film's cutting edge CGI special effects work. Another cool feature is the VFX Picture In Picture Comparisons, which show how individual shots from the movie looked during principal photography and after the completed special effects were added. A theatrical trailer, talent files and DVD-ROM web links fill out the DVD's supplements.
HOLLOW MAN is solid sci-fi action entertainment with incredible special effects. Certain aspects of the plot may not be to everyone's taste, but I found HOLLOW MAN to an enjoyable ride and a superb DVD. This DVD is definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of the genre, or enjoy feeding your home theater system demonstration quality DVDs.
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