A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 434 – Hollow Man

Hollow Man – May 8th, 2011

Wow, so, this movie offends me on so many levels. We bought it because Andy said it was a horrible cheesy sci-fi horror movie and it is! But it’s also horrible on more levels than cheesy sci-fi. It’s got a lot of problems and not all of them are the horribly obvious flaws in the science portions of the movie. I mean, I expect there to be some ridiculous science babble in movies like this but wow, this movie’s got more than that. In fact, I think I can just leave most of the ridiculous science flaws alone since they’re so glaringly obvious to anyone who’s ever even taken a lab science class in high school. Instead I’d like to address the rest of the movie’s flaws, and there are oh so many of them.

The plot follows brilliant scientist Sebastian Caine as he and his team work on making a chemical that will make a living subject invisible, then restore them. There’s some babble about it being a matter of making them out of phase with the visible world or whatever. It doesn’t really matter how they manage it because it’s going to be ridiculous and not follow its own rules no matter what. That was a given. So after finally managing to fix a problem they were having with the restoration part of it all, Sebastian convinces two of his teammates, Linda and Matt, to go against their funding committee’s rules and try it on himself ahead of schedule. And then the restoration fails, leaving Sebastian stuck invisible for the foreseeable future. Having already established that prolonged time “out of phase” (i.e. invisible) has nasty side effects on the mental and emotional states of subjects, it’s pretty easy to see where this is going. Which is one problem right there.

I knew from the first moment we met the whole team what order they’d die in. I doubted it a little after Sebastian has some interactions with the team veterinarian, Sarah, because I thought maybe with his interest (his creepy, predatory interest) in her he’d go after her first. But no. I was right and it was poor awesome Janice. She should have shot him when she had the chance. I knew how the whole thing with Sebastian and ex-girlfriend Linda would play out and from the first moment we met Linda I knew she was obviously now seeing another member of the team. It’s not so much telegraphed as just plain lazy writing. Really though, every single plot point in this movie was both obvious and ridiculous. They knew about the behavioral issues! They knew Sebastian was a jackass! So why on Earth would Linda and Matt, who should really have known better since they clearly know Sebastian well enough to know he won’t react well to their relationship, have allowed it? Who knows. But of course they allowed it! It’s full of stuff like that, though the issue of Sebastian’s personality is what brings me to my biggest problem with the movie.

In the trivia for the movie there’s mention of a cut scene where Sebastian rapes his neighbor, but it was cut out because audiences felt it was too early for him to have descended to that level of depravity. Oh, the implication of the scene is still there, but the specifics aren’t revealed. And you know what? I don’t think it’s too early at all. Dude has a creepy sexual predator vibe going right from the outset. The movie implies that being invisible for prolonged periods of time causes emotional instability and increases violent behavior, so it would follow that it’s the invisibility that causes Sebastian to go homicidal. But really, he starts out a total jackass with predator leanings. I didn’t so much feel like being invisible caused something to go out of whack in his head so much as it allowed him to act on impulses he’d never been able to act on before. I mean, it’s not long at all after he goes invisible that he’s sneaking into the observation room and unbuttoning Sarah’s blouse and molesting her. That’s not the invisibility as a cause, it’s just a means to an end. The problem here is that he’s not really a nice guy to start with. He’s a jerk who spies on his neighbor while she undresses and treats his coworkers like crap even when he’s visible. And while those are far lesser offenses than rape and murder, they don’t paint him in a favorable light. His character arc isn’t a tragic or unpredictable one, which is a pity because if it had been it would have been a more interesting movie and less offensive to me.

Had there been more of an arc for Sebastian I think I would have enjoyed this movie a whole lot more. There’s just something more horrifying about a relatively nice person being turned into a homicidal maniac via an experimental scientific procedure than there is about a jackass going through the same thing. I’m not sure if the movie wants me to like Sebastian at all ever but I hope not. While I think it would have made a better movie if I had, the thought that the movie might not see his early pre-invisible behavior as a problem is even worse. So I’m just going to hope he’s meant to be loathsome from the get-go. Being a genius doesn’t make it okay to be a sleazy douche and I sincerely hope the movie was intended to be seen that way.

So, seeing as there’s pretty much nothing that surprised me and a lot of things that disgusted me, this movie would have had to pull out a miracle to make me like it at all. And I think it could go without saying that it doesn’t. The characters are all one dimensional at best, and I’m not just talking about the redshirts who are so clearly destined to die messy deaths at Sebastian’s hands. Bizarrely and disgustingly, Sebastian’s lecherous behavior towards the women actually gives them more time on screen than the men get, but it’s still not enough to give them much to work with. And while Linda and Matt are obviously supposed to be the leads we care about we never really get much about them. All we know about them is that Linda used to date Sebastian and left him and says that Matt is everything Sebastian isn’t. That there is not a hell of a lot to root for. I prefer to like my heroes, not just dislike my villain. The best I can say for either of them is that they do seem to be fairly intelligent most of the time, within the confines of the movie.

I didn’t enjoy this movie. I didn’t hate it in the same way I hated Death Proof and Punch Drunk Love but I also did feel like the movie focused far too much on Sebastian to the detriment of the actual positive characters. And it’s full of unpleasant scenes and moments and not nearly enough triumphant moments at the end to redeem it. I’m certainly not sorry to have it behind me now and I definitely won’t ever be putting it back in again.

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

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