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January 14, 2007
Hollow Man - Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
24/8/200023/1/2008Sony PicturesPaul Verhoeven
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DD5.1 640kbps
PCM 4.6Mbps
MA15+Kevin Bacon

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Effects are pretty spectacular!
Paul Verhoeven. In the 1990's he was a fucking god to me. His movies were some of the most kick-ass of the decade with Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct and Starship Troopers to his name with only Showgirls being a bit of a stinker. Well, ok, it sucked big time. In 2000 Hollow Man was heavily promoted and was released with as much hype as any big budget action movie that year. The problem was that it was critically panned, and managed to take only $US190 million worldwide on a $US95 million production budget. Not a complete disaster, but certainly well below the $US352 million taken by Basic Instinct released almost a decade earlier!

After years of experimentation, Dr. Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon), a brilliant, but arrogant and egotistical scientist working for the defense department, has successfully transformed mammals to an invisible state and brought them back to their original physical form. Determined to achieve the ultimate breakthrough, Caine instructs his team to move on to Phase III: human experimentation. Using himself as the first subject, the invisible Caine finds himself free to do the unthinkable. But Caine's expperiment takes an unexpected turn when his team can't bring him back. As the days pass, he grows more and more out of control, doomed to a future without flesh as the Hollow Man.

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Kevin Bacon never looked so good!
Unfortunately unlike most movies which keep you engaged from start to finish Hollow Man is a snooze fest from start to end. Sure there are moments when you'll be thinking something is cool - primarily the effects sequences when animals or humans turn invisible, or regenerate to visible form, but the storyline is so drab with poor dialogue and plot holes it will be hard to really care. Plot holes you say? Hell yes. Why the hell do the team go looking for an invisible Sebasitan after he leaves the complex without their Infra-Red goggles? Well, OK, perhaps they thought he would still have his rubber mask on. Why then do they run around the labs looking for him without them as well? Why throw blood on the floor to see Sebastian's footsteps rather then around the room to see him? How the hell is he so invincible at the end of the movie? Then you get to the entire plot. Sure Sebastian goes crazy when he remains invisible for lengthy periods of time, but is there a need for him to become a sex-crazed maniac?

Sadly this movie didn't impress me in the cinema when I went to the premiere in 2000. It didn't impress me on the DVD when I bought it at bargain basement price and unfortunately it still doesn't impress me on Blu-Ray either. This is certainly one of Paul Verhoeven's worst movies and while he has had a drought since this release, he has had a bit of a come back in recent years with the brilliant Black Book which we certainly recommend on Blu-Ray. If you're a fan of Hollow Man then ignore our comments, but I highly suspect that anyone that has seen this movie, and many of Paul's others will have the same thoughts as me.

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It's a race, to shoot a monkey!
Certainly one area where the Hollow Man Blu-Ray transfer doesn't disappoint is the video transfer. Encoded in AVC MPEG-4 the print used was pristine with not a blemish to be found. Colours are vibrant and the detail, even in the CG based scenes where the bodies become invisible or visable, is impressive. Compared to the DVD version this transfer is vastly superior not only with a sharper image as one would expect, but also with a richer colour pallette and a lot more detail in the background and smaller objects.

Paul Verhoeven has always been known for the aggressive use of audio in his movies and Hollow Man is no exception. The movie has an aggressive use of surround sound and with the main character, and many other animals, being invisible the audio then becomes a key component to the thrills in the movie. Check out the scene between 37:37 and 38:44 when Sebastian is walking around the room talking from all directions. Sony Pictures have presented the audio in this movie in two forms. Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640kbps and the slightly more impressive PCM 5.1 audio at 4.6Mbps.

Subtitles are provided in 20 different languages including English and English SDH.

Hollow Man has been released a couple of times on DVD with the Collector's Edition including numerous extras well worth your time. Unfortunately this Blu-Ray release sees many of these extras, including the audio commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, writer Andrew Marlowe and star Kevin Bacon as well as the Isolated track of music score with commentary by composer Jerry Goldsmith both being dropped (presumably due to this release being the Director's Cut). We are left with a couple of extras which, while not the best we've seen, may interest you.

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It must be said, the effects are great.
Hollow Man: Anatomy of a Thriller (15:04): Presented in Standard Definition with 192kbps 2 Channel audio this feature is little more then an overblown advertisment for the movie. There is far too much retelling of the story and little to no details about how the brilliant effects took place. There are some interviews with cast and crew however there is little here of any real substance.

Fleshing Out the 'Hollow Man' (40:39): Split up into numerous chapters, or playable as a whole this is actually quite an interesting documentary about the making of this movie wtih the focus on the visual effects. Each of the sections looks at a different section of the movie and the effects required to film it.

VFX Picture Comparison (4:18): A rather interesting split-screen comparison between the actors filmed on set and the final footage in the movie showing the transparent Sebastian Caine.

Hollow Man is a terribly average movie from an often brilliant director. The script is poor, acting terrible, and the story dull. There are some nice visual effects and this Blu-Ray release is technically quite superb but with a lack of extras this is really only a disc that die-hard fans should consider purchasing. Expect a release in January 2008.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.