A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Hollow Man

May 8, 2011

Hollow Man

We simply cannot resist a cheesy bad movie. This should be obvious from the titles in our collection but I feel I need to point it out to make sense of the fact that we’re reviewing this movie tonight. When we were making our recent mass DVD purchase this movie popped up and we said “a widely panned Paul Verhoven movie? How could we not?” After all, we’ve already reviewed Showgirls, Starship Troopers and Robocop. The thing is – although you’d think after Showgirls we’d know what kind of sleaze Verhoven is capable of; I just didn’t appreciate how his particular brand of depravity would influence this movie.

I can understand the intent of this movie. It’s trying to be a sci-fi horror along the lines of Alien or Predator or Deep Blue Sea where a supernatural killer (here an invisible scientist and not an alien or shark) is picking off people trapped in an enclosed space (here a secret underground lab complex.) It has a couple problems that keep it from working as part of that genre though. For one thing it takes an awful long time to get to the meat of the movie. Easily two thirds of the film involve the creation of the insane invisible killer, which doesn’t leave much time for the actual sci-fi horror plot to play out. Another problem is that is doesn’t have any heroes. The movie is packed with likable victims, but there’s nobody that I really find myself rooting for by the end.

The story here is of the brilliant Sebastian Caine, a scientist who heads a team that has perfected a means of making animals invisible. Of course, as anybody knows, being made invisible drives animals mad, but this slight flaw in his process doesn’t much concern him. Not much concerns him, to tell the truth, because he’s a raging ego-maniac and sleezeball. His ex-girlfriend is part of his team, and she’s come to the realization that she doesn’t like him much – and is sleeping with a different team member without his knowledge. At the start of the movie Caine succeeds in perfecting the means to make some of his experimental creatures re-appear, which means that he is in danger of losing control of his project to the military group that fund it since he’s accomplished his goals. Naturally this means that he must immediately inject himself with the invisibility serum otherwise the movie would end quite suddenly without the plot getting going at all.

In very short order Caine is naked and invisible – which accentuates all of his egomaniac tendencies and removes the necessity to behave himself. Or something. He was pretty sleazy to begin with but no sooner is he invisible than he’s creeping up on sleeping colleagues and taking their clothes off. When it becomes apparent that the reversal serum they’re cooked up doesn’t work on humans for some reason Caine really starts to go crazy. Soon he’s breaking out of the facility and raping his neighbours. (Well it’s implied in the movie that he rapes his exhibitionist neighbour with a penchant for stripping in front of her windows and very fake looking breasts – but according to the trivia on IMDB the rape was actually part of the movie until test audiences objected.)

Okay, so that does a great job of establishing that Caine is an insane power mad bastard who gets off on using his invisibility to hurt others. But nothing is done to establish a counter-weight. When Caine traps his science team in the facility and goes on his inevitable killing spree we don’t really know anything about the people he’s hunting except that they are inoffensively nice and have an asshole for a boss. Even his ex-girlfriend Linda, who would seem to be the heroine of the movie, is almost completely without character or motivation. Her new boyfriend, Matt, is even less of a character and I find that I have no emotional investment in either of them. In fact the only partially interesting character in the whole science team is the first to die, which just sucks the fun out of the whole rest of the movie.

One thing I cannot deny is that this movie involves some simply astonishing special effects. It is packed with clever digital tricks which remove Kevin Bacon from the scene and show us only the impression of him. His face in smoke or water or smeared in blood. There are also the fantastic digital models which allow the effects meisters to strip away his body layer by layer so we have him with no skin, no muscles, no blood vessels. Or any combination thereof. I don’t know if it’s worth watching the movie again just for the effects, but they are certainly the best thing in the movie. I appreciated it for that at least.

As for the rest, well I think I’ve said it all. It’s a sleazy story of an unappealing man turned invisible and the completely forgettable group of people he kills off one by one. It has a very Verhoven feel to the entire thing, but it’s the salacious and voyeuristic Verhoven and not the master of action cheese that I’ve come to enjoy so much over the years. More than anything else right now I regret that we don’t have Total Recall to watch tomorrow to ease the pain of this movie.


May 8, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Time to find “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” as an antidote. Only 5.8 on IMDb, but I remember it as being charming and clever.

    Comment by Doc Wheat | May 10, 2011 | Reply

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