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"Hollow Man"

Directed by Paul Verhoeven.
Written by Andrew W. Marlowe.
Starring Elizabeth Shue and Kevin Bacon.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  8/6/00 

Folks-- 

Dave Bell, the basketball-playing behemoth who also doubles as my younger brother, called me up today to see if I wanted to catch "Hollow Man" for a matinee.  Being a loser, I quickly accepted.  As some of you know, I don't do any prep for movies before I go see them, so I just found out that the director of "Hollow Man" is Paul Verhoeven.

If you have seen any of the following, you may be familiar with Verhoeven's work:  "Robocop," "Basic Instinct," "Total Recall," "Starship Troopers," "Showgirls."  What's the common theme here?  Gratuitous, and I mean, *gratuitous*, sex and violence.  His movies are so loud, bloody and bare breast-filled that they are often studied in those debates about what is going wrong with America and things like that.  "Hollow Man"--although it looks like just a run-of-the-mill thriller in its previews--has way too much bleeding for a movie that starts with such promise and degenerates into a C-grade slasher ripoff.

Kevin Bacon plays Sebastian Caine, a badass DNA genius that drives a Porsche, eats Twinkies, and is running a four-year-old Pentagon-funded science project which is trying to produce a serum that can make an animal or human being invisible to the human eye.  After getting the serum to work on a gorilla, Caine decides to use it on himself to test whether or not the drug can be used on human beings.  Assisting him on the team are six other folks, including former lover Linda McKay (Elisabeth Shue) and her new boyfriend, Matt (Josh Brolin), the latter two suspecting the whole way that something is fishy about the way Caine is going about his business.  Naturally, Caine takes advantage of his newfound abilities and terrorizes some folks in the outside world before eventually attempting to take out the team of scientists in "Alien"-style takedowns.

I thought the idea was really cool for this movie, and when Caine does leave the lab without permission and walks around the streets of Washington, DC unnoticed, the concept of being able to move freely about the earth without anyone seeing you was kind of cool.  But, the writers only include two scenes like this; the rest of the movie either sets up Caine's motivations for going through with the procedure, or with Caine eventually going loco and going postal on his former team members.  If this movie had just spent its time exploring what it would really be like to walk around DC while no one could see you, I thought it would have been more interesting.

And, the special effects help make that happen, with the effects clearly being the best part of the film.  Even for all of the movies that I see, I am still amazed at how far things have come in the great history of film.  Have you seen "The Invisible Man?"  The effects in that movie compared to "Hollow Man" are now, sadly, laughable.  Bacon himself only appears in the first 30 minutes of the movie, with the rest of it spent watching a Bacon-like person wearing a rubber mask with holes in it...and, amazingly, the shape of the mask around his character's head looks almost exactly like bacon wearing it.  The explosions and the visuals are big plusses here.

But, by-the-book foreshadowing (Brolin's character from the get-go has horrible aim; do you think THAT will be a factor in the ending?), extremely poor character support by the actors not in the main trio and an ending that rivals the conclusion of "What Lies Beneath" in its sheer length and you-think-I'm-dead-but-not-quite-yet-ness make for a movie that is up and down throughout.  It has a decent number of scares but not enough to qualify as a horror movie; sporadic comedic touches leave comedy out of the question; its sense of adventure goes out the window once Caine comes back to the lab.  Very uneven, but you do get some cool visual effects and a ridiculously-huge 30-second explosion at the end.

Of course, if you don't like explosions, skip this one altogether.

Rating:  Rental

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09