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Default Hollowman: Superbit Deluxe



Reviewer: Dave
Review Date: June 19, 2002

Released by: Columbia Tri-Star
Release date: 5/28/2002
MSRP: $26.95
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.

The Story

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.

Image Quality

Columbia Tri-Star presents Hollow Man in an anamorphic transfer in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While I can't say this transfer is a huge improvement over the previous DVD (I rated the prior with an A), there are noticeable improvements on a 16x9 display. The improved bitrate does provide an increase in detail and sharpness. However, unless you're specifically comparing the two, I doubt anyone would notice the improvement. That's just a testament to how good the transfer is on the original DVD. Colors remain strong and vivid, identical to the original.

Sound

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.

Also included on this Superbit Deluxe DVD is a DTS soundtrack. Normally I find DTS tracks to be superior over Dolby Digital, as they often have better LFE and a more natural sound to them. But a well mastered Dolby Digital track can be just as good as a DTS track, and that's exactly the case here. The two tracks sounded identical on my system, both of which are worthy of an A rating.

Several languages of subtitles are available, including French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

Supplemental Material

Normal Superbit titles are bare bones, containing absolutely no supplements. The whole concept behind superbit is to take out the supplements and use the extra space to increase the bitrate for audio and video. Columbia has taken Superbit a step further with the introduction of Superbit Deluxe, a 2-disc set containing the high bitrate presentation on one disc and the supplements on a second disc. While not everything made it over from the special edition DVD - the cast/crew and the composer commentary tracks are gone - nearly everything else is here. Being someone who loves both high quality presentations and supplements, I think Superbit Deluxe is a dream come true.

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&quot. 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.

While I rated the single disc special edition with an A, I'm rating this Superbit Deluxe with a B+ since it's missing the two commentary tracks.

Final Thoughts

Currently, the MSRP for the single disc Hollow Man: Special Edition DVD is $24.95 and the Superbit Deluxe DVD is $28.95. For those considering a first time purchase of Hollow Man, getting this Superbit Deluxe a no brainer. There is a slight increase in image quality, as well as the addition of a DTS track, which many people prefer. Though I'll point out once again that I found the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks equal in quality. For those that already own the single disc special edition, there's not a significant enough improvement in this Superbit Deluxe DVD to justify the cost of upgrading.

After watching the movie again for a second review, my positive opinion of it remains the same. Classic horror it's not, but as a horror fan I did find it both fun and entertaining. I recommend both the movie and this superb Superbit Deluxe DVD.

Rating

Movie - B+
Image Quality - A+
Sound - A
Supplements - B+

Technical Info.
  • Color
  • Running Time - 1 hour 53 minutes
  • Rated R
  • 1 Disc
  • Chapter stops
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • English DTS 5.1
  • Optional English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Thai subtitles
Supplements
  • 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
  • Theatrical Trailers
  • Filmographies
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