Director: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Shue, Josh Brolin
Studio: Columbia Pictures 21522
Video: 1.85:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 color, 1080p HD
Audio: English Uncompressed PCM 5.1, Dolby 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Korean
Extras: Making-of HBO featurette: “Anatomy of a Thriller;” 15 short behind-the-scenes featurettes: “Fleshing Out Hollow Man;” VFX Picture-in-Picture comparisons
Length: 118 minutes
Dutch expat Paul Verhoeven – notorious for his failed Showgirls feature – presents this story which once again demonstrates the controversial director’s philosophy of “If nobody thinks I am going to shoot it, I’ll shoot it.” (Would you believe there was actually a script prepared for a sequel to Showgirls, to be called “Bimbos”?)
In this case, although the film does engage in some dark male fantasies of the undressing-sleeping-women variety, the most unexpected shots are probably the amazing depictions of Kevin Bacon in his own first human test of a newly-developed serum to produce invisibility. If you missed one of the current Body Worlds exhibits (or lacked the stomach for it, as I did) you’ll see a good approximation of it, in live action yet, as Bacon slowly and painfully begins to become invisible – his skeleton the last part to disappear. And his private parts are not always invisible.
As Sebastian Caine, he plays an arrogant genius scientist working on invisibility for the Defense Department, and he has already transformed lab animals. After his difficult taking of the serum and being tested for three days he finds his antidote to bring back visibility – which worked on the animals – fails to work on him and he is stuck in a future as The Hollow Man. His already incipient superego and violent nature turns deadly as he becomes accustomed to the ability to do the unthinkable in his invisible state. And he does it, turning into a violent killer. His team and his ex-girlfriend (Elizabeth Shue) must stop him, but his invisibility (when he’s naked of course) gives Sebastian the sort of edge that is exactly what the Defense Department was looking for.
The transfer is excellent and the uncompressed PCM soundtrack really rocks. Although the anomaly did strike me of having a super-hi-def version of a film about invisibility… This is dubbed a Director’s Cut because Verhoeven replaced eight minutes worth of previously deleted footage back into the film. That may be why some of the sexy and violent scenes seem even more so than when I saw it in the theater seven years ago. Yes, Verhoeven can be over the top sometimes, but I thought his Black Book was terrific, and my favorite Schwartzenegger film is Total Recall. Since the first of those occasioned his return to Holland, this statement on his web site seems appropriate: “In Holland my films were judged by the critics as decadent, perverted and sleazy… After ten years [here in America] my movies are criticized as being decadent, perverted and sleazy…”
– John Sunier