Review Date: December 21, 2000
Released by: Columbia Tri-Star
Release date: 1/2/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Director Paul Verhoeven has brought us classic movies like Robocop, Starship Troopers (sorry but I liked it), Basic Instinct and Total Recall. His latest directorial work is Hollow Man, another take on the whole invisible man concept, but with some Verhoeven style mixed in. The DVD for Hollow Man is being released by Columbia Tri-Star and it's chock full of extras. Let takes a closer look.
Dr. Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) heads up a team of scientists that is working on invisibility for the Department of Defense. His team consists of former love interest Linda McKay (Elisabeth Shue), Matthew Kensington (Josh Brolin), Sarah Kennedy (Kim Dickens), Carter Abbey (Greg Grunberg), Frank Chase (Joey Slotnick) and Janice Walton (Mary Randle). Their ultimate goal is to be able to make a human invisible and be able to bring them back to visibility again without side effects. The research has made huge progress during the last 4 years, and the team is now able to turn animals invisible. The problem is they're now able to bring them back to visibility. All attempts to do so have resulted in the animals becoming burnt piles of flesh.
Sebastian makes a huge discovery, which he believes will allow the animals to come back to full visibility. He informs Linda, and the next day the team prepares to test the discovery on an invisible gorilla. The test ends up being a success and the whole team goes out that night to celebrate. As Sebastian makes his report to the defense department he makes no mention of the huge breakthrough. Instead, he reports that they're nearing a solution for bringing animals back to visibility, but they'll need some more time to accomplish this. After the meeting Linda and Matt are furious at Sebastian. He explains that he wants to move into Phase III - human invisibility. If they tell this to the Defense Department there's no way they'll approve it without years of research first. Linda and Matt reluctantly give in to Sebastian's plans.
Only Linda and Matt know that Sebastian lied to the Defense Department. The rest of the team is under the assumption that the human experiment was approved. They perform the experiment on Sebastian and the results are successful - he's invisible. He's to spend 3 days being tested and then he'll be brought back to visibility. But on the third day something goes wrong when they try to bring him back. He starts to become visible, but half way through he starts having seizures and then begins to turn invisible again. The experiment has failed - regaining visibility doesn't work on humans. The teams begins working on a way to bring Sebastian back, but times goes by and after 10 days Sebastian starts to lose his grip on sanity. He can't take living in the lab anymore, so he goes home for a while, even though he agreed to stay in the lab. Having the power of invisibility, Sebastian fulfills some his dark, twisted fantasies. When the team realizes he's becoming out of control they go to Dr. Howard Kramer (William Devane), a member of the Defense Department, and tell him what's happened. Sebastian isn't about to give up so easily, however. He devises a plan to destroy his team of researchers along with Dr. Howard Kramer before they can inform the Defense Department. With invisibility on his side the odds are certainly in his favor.
I've read mixed reviews on this film, some of which were unfavorable. I, for one, enjoyed this movie very much. I love the whole invisible man concept and I think Verhoeven uses it quite wellin Hollow Man. The concept is generally the same as most invisibility movies - person becomes invisible, person loses sanity, person becomes dangerous. But Verhoeven adds some darker human twists to it, though many will find some of those twists in poor taste. You've probably already guessed it - Sebastian invisibility turns him into a pervert. Face it, if guys had the power of invisibility 95% of them would be hanging out in the Victoria Secret's changing room. Many of Verhoeven's movies have a sexual tone; Hollow Man is no exception. There's also more horror and gore in this invisible man movie then any other; a definite plus for horror fans.
Then there's the special effects, which I found to be absolutely incredible. Finally an invisible man movie with top-notch CGI effects - it definitely provides a realism factor not found in other invisibility movies. Blowing smoke to form the outline of a face, throwing blood to form the outline of a body, splashing water to form the outline of a face - those are just some examples of the effects in Hollow Man, effects that I've always wanted to see in this sort of movie.
Don't expect an Oscar winning story here, but I think it was definitely a decent story to use with the invisibility concept. You know, sometimes you just want to sit down and watch a FUN movie. For me, Hollow Man definitely fit the bill. If you go in expecting too much you may be let down, but if you go in expecting a fun movie with great special effects and some gore throw in for good measure, I think you'll definitely enjoy Hollow Man.
Columbia Tri-Star presents Hollow Man in an anamorphic transfer in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The transfer on this DVD is top notch. As expected with such a new movie, no print blemishes are to be found anywhere. Image is extremely sharp and detailed with strong, vivid colors. I actually thought I'd be able to catch some MPEG artifacts, mainly because of some of the smoke and fog that were used, but none were to be found. This transfer is perfect.
Hollow Man is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. This 5.1 sound is extremely powerful on the DVD. The movie has lots of action sequences in which the rears and LFE gets lots of use that's nicely balanced. Of course, no distortion was heard on the track. Definitely an excellent track here that easily scores an A. Also inclued are English Dolby Surround and French Dolby Surround tracks.
Columbia Tri-Star has released Hollow Man as a full blown special edition, and there's definitely lots of goodies to check out. First is a commentary track by director Paul Verhoeven, writer Andrew W. Marlowe and star Kevin Bacon. Kevin Bacon does a lot of talking, which surprised me for some reason. I've never heard a commentary track with him before (has he even done any others?), so I wasn't really expecting much input from him. He really knows his stuff in regards to the whole movie making process, which I guess is no surprise given how long he's been around and how many movies he's been in. He definitely contributes a lot during the commentary, and even asks lots of questions which helps keeps a good pace. There's a lot of discussion from all three on how many of the effects were done, which I really enjoyed since I love the effects in this movie. There's a few gaps of silence but none last more than 5 or 10 seconds. Fans will definitely enjoy and appreciate this informative and entertaining commentary. In additional to that main commentary there's an isolated music score with Jerry Goldsmith commentary. I listened to various segments of this, and if you're interested in musical scores it's definitely nice to listen to Goldsmith discuss all the aspects of it. It's often an overlooked part of the movie that people don't really think about all that much, yet if you ever listen to a movie without the score you'd be amazed by the difference.
An HBO making-of featurette is included on the DVD, titled "Hollow Man: Anatomy of a Thriller" that runs 15 minutes long. Several members of the cast and crew discuss both story outline and special effects. The highlight is definitely the discussion on special effects, which includes lots of behind-the-scenes special effects shots, including Kevin Bacon wearing various suits so they could later make him invisible with a computer.
Next is a section titled "Fleshing Out the Hollow Man: Behind-The-Scenes featurettes". It's broken up into 13 different subsections, each with its own. The sections are Paul Verhoeven: Hollywood's Mad Scientist, The Invisible Formula, The Muscle Man, The Human Bubble, Thermal Imaging, The Smoke Guy, The Gorilla Suit, The Mask, Flaming Sebastian, Elevator Finale, Ape Reversion Storyboards with Paul Verhoeven commentary, The Underground Lab and Reversion Progressions with Scott Stokdyk commentary. They each last a few minutes and contain footage of the cast and crew members discussing specifics aspects of the film, along with several clips and behind-the-scenes footage from scenes being discussed. The Ape Reversion Storyboards with Paul Verhoeven commentary is done in a new and interesting way. The storyboards are displayed and in the lower right hand corner is a picture-in-picture box that plays the actual scene representing each storyboard. Yet another way has been found to make storyboards, which I normally find boring, more interesting! All and all these are wonderful featurettes that mostly focus on the various effects used throughout the movie.
The effects extras aren't finished yet! Next is the VFX Picture-in-Picture comparisons that are broken up into three sequences - Kramer's Death, Sprinkler Attack and Sebastian's Demise. These are really good because they have, as the title indicates, a picture-in-picture comparison. The main picture shows the the scenes before CGI work, while the picture-in-picture square shows what the finished scenes looks like with all the CGI work implemented. This is very interesting to watch and it's quite amazing to see the differences between the rough cut and the finished product. Very enjoyable.
Three deleted scenes that contain commentary from director Paul Verhoeven explaining why they were removed from the final film. The three scenes are:
1. Was it a Dream? - Sarah tells Linda and Matt her suspicions of Sebastian fondling her while she was dozing.
2. Sebastian Attack - extended sequence of Sebastian attacking his neighbor.
3. Sebastian on the Prowl - Sarah confronts Sebastian about the dead dog. Sebastian in Sarah's apartment. Sebastian on his way back to the lab.
Nothing major was removed but they're interesting to see nonetheless.
Finishing off the supplements are talent files, production notes (insert), DVD-Rom weblinks, and theatrical trailers for Hollow Man, A Few Good Men, Starship Troopers and Final Fantasy. Obviously there's ton of extras here, and fortunately many of them are quite enjoyable. I really liked how there was a big focus on effects, which is obviously a strong point of the film and was one of my favorite aspects to it. I was left in awe after seeing how these special effects are done and the level of complexity of each one. Movie magic indeed, though it was no surprise to learn the movie cost nearly $100 million to make. You also appreciate what Kevin Bacon had to do as an actor after seeing some of this behind-the-scenes footage. Sure, he's invisible throughout most of the film but there's no doubt this was once of his most challenging performances. Whether you like the movie stand alone or for its effects only you're really enjoy going through all these supplements. It's an excellent special edition from Columbia Tri-Star that easily earns a solid A rating.
With an MSRP of $24.98 this DVD is an easily justified purchase. It's a fun movie with some great special effects. The audio/video quality is perfect, and to top it off the DVD is packed to the brim with enjoyable extras. What more can you ask for? Well, I suppose DTS sound would've been nice...but that's just getting nitpicky. If you haven't seen the movie definitely checkout the DVD.
Movie - B+
Image Quality - A
Sound - A-
Supplements - A
- Running Time - 1 hour 53 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- English Dolby Surround 2.0
- French Dolby Digital Surround
- Optional English subtitles
- Optional French subtitles
- Commentary track with Director Paul Verhoeven, Writer Andrew W. Marlowe and Star Kevin Bacon
- Isolated Music Score with Jerry Goldsmith Commentary
- HBO Making-Of: Anatomy of a Thriller
- 3 Deleted Scenes with Paul Verhoeven Commentary
- Fleshing Out the Hollow Man: 15 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
- VFX Picture if Picture Comparisons
- DVD-ROM Weblinks
- Theatrical Trailers
- Talent Files
- Production Notes