I personally wouldn’t place Hollow Man on any ‘favourite film’ lists, but I do hold some nostalgia for the 2000 staple, which echoed the excitement and optimism for filmmaking in the new millennium. It also proved a valuable test subject for one of my first attempts at hooking one VCR to another. Don’t worry, I’ve since gone straight and have embraced the legally tendered release of the sci-fi horror on Blu-ray from Cinema Cult. Directed by Dutch-born filmmaker Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop), the leader of scientific team volunteers as a test subject for an experiment in human invisibility. As a result of his new ability, he quickly descends into madness, turning against his peers.
Hollow Man is a very loose screen adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, a sinister piece in its own right, but this modern re-telling comes at the audience in a far more harsh and aggressive manner. Kevin Bacon is the film’s lead and unapologetic antagonist, Sebastian Caine, a brilliant, but egotistical individual. His arrogance and underlying sexual aggressiveness, alarming traits that are made clear early on, let the audience know that a monster already exists within Caine. Invisibility serves as the crux of his maniacal tendencies and opens the doors for a range of special effects, the extent of which are shown initially with one of the animal subjects. Despite looking a little dated, it’s very obvious the filmmakers were showing off with the digital wizardry, which from memory was highly impressive for the time. When an eager Caine makes the leap for himself, the film quickly evolves into a somewhat confined pseudo-slasher, with the film’s primary location of an underground overman lab creating a unique setting. Many clichés of the genre ensue, but Verhoeven’s flare for onscreen violence and generous blood-splatter really take things to eleven. With the gimmick of invisibly at the forefront, there’s no mistaking that Hollow Man is Kevin Bacon’s show, who clearly enjoyed playing the menacing a despicable transparent villain in a seemingly effortless performance. Elisabeth Shue as the film’s heroine, Linda, comes off strong while constantly going toe-to-toe with Bacon, while Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens and William Devane fill out the supporting cast, but suffer slightly due to some basic and often poor dialogue.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
While we all love bonus material on our physical media, Cinema Cult have given merit to bare-bones releases by always presenting quality transfers. Hollow Man is no exception with vibrant picture and sharpness sourced from its Columbia Pictures counterpart; and for a film that doesn’t shy away from showing blood, this HD rendering doesn’t disappoint. Sound is robust in Dolby Digital 5.1 and there’s an optional 2.0 track, which is better suited to watching the disc solely through your TV.
I enjoyed watching Hollow Man again after nineteen years, especially on Blu-ray. It’s not nearly as bad as many have made it out to be and is generally entertaining despite a bloated runtime. Cinema Cult have a made a fine selection in light of last year’s release of The Invisible Man’s Revenge, which I think would make for an amusing double feature.
(2000, dir: Paul Verhoeven)
direct blu-ray screen captures