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Hollow Man

"Hollow Man" on DVD

Disappearing Action

In Paul Verhoeven's "Hollow Man," one can take the title as a reference to Dr. Sebastian Caine's character as much as it is to this modern invisible man tale itself.

Caine (Kevin Bacon) is a brilliant, driven scientist who, unfortunately, is also ruthless, arrogant, and egotistical as hell. He can certainly back up his brilliance and ego with results, but that doesn't make him any more likable.

With his former main squeeze (Elisabeth Shue) and their support team, he's working on a project for the Defence Department that will allow them to phase shift people so they appear invisible to the naked eye.

Apparently, it isn't nearly as hard to make things disappear as it is to bring them back, and that's been the stumbling block preventing the project from achieving ultimate success.

Then a breakthrough comes with a gorilla - in a spectacular computer-generated special effects sequence. The next step is to try it on a human and Caine browbeats the team into letting him volunteer for these unauthorized tests.

Naturally, things don't go as planned and they can't bring him back. Not only that, but it seems that the longer a creature stays out of sight the more it affects its brain, and Caine's God complex begins to take over and he begins exercising his new power in dubious ways.

This is your typical Paul Verhoeven Hollywood film, in that it's a neat yarn told well, with great effects - and more graphic violence than is necessary to tell the story. Still, there are only a few scenes in which the gore is obtrusive and it doesn't really spoil the movie, especially if you're familiar with the director's works.

There are also a few times when your suspension of disbelief threatens to be suspended, but on the whole, Hollow Man succeeds very well.

Bacon is terrific as the brilliantly flawed scientist, and Shue is smart, sexy, and concerned as the Number Two person who has eschewed their relationship in favor of one with a real human being - in this case the Number Three person (Josh Brolin).

The special effects were the main thing being promoted with this film's release, and they don't let you down. As with his "Starship Troopers," Verhoeven has used the state-of-the-art in computer effects, and it shows. Fortunately, there's also a pretty neat yarn to accompany them.

The DVD is presented in digitally mastered anamorphic widescreen, which fills your 16x9 TV screen, and the picture quality is first rate. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is also excellent.

There are plenty of extras, too, including a feature commentary with director Verhoeven, star Bacon, and script writer Andrew W. Marlowe. You also get an isolated track of Jerry Goldsmith's score, a "Making of" featurette and three deleted scenes that include Verhoeven's commentary.

As if that weren't enough, there are a total of 15 behind the scenes featurettes called "Fleshing out the Hollow Man", effects comparisons that use picture in picture to illustrate the magicians' work, talent files, production notes, and the usual annoying animated menus.

Hollow Man, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
113 minutes, Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital
Starring Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens
Produced by Douglas Wick and Alan Marshall
Written by Andrew W. Marlowe, Directed by Paul Verhoeven


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Updated May 13, 2006