Hollow Man (2000)
Written By: SN
Edited BY: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Producer: Douglas Wick, Alan Marshall
Writers: Gary Scott Thompson, Andrew W. Marlowe
Date Released: 4 August 2000
Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Caine
Elisabeth Shue as Linda McKay
Josh Brolin as Matthew Kensington
Rating = 1.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Egotistic scientist Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is a few steps away from completing his life’s work of making matter invisible. After a successful run on a lab gorilla, he soon goes rogue from his superiors and decides to conduct human testing without their knowledge. Things go south once he volunteers himself for the research and fails to revert him back to his normal self. Soon, his new found power gets to his head and begins messing around in public, putting himself and his colleagues in danger. Once his colleagues realize that they’ve fallen victims to his tricks, a manhunt for the Hollow Man begins.
You won’t see much gore ‘til the last 30 minutes of the film but don’t fret, it’s a jam-packed final sequence with blood, burning flesh, and electrocution. At one point though, you’ll witness an invisible dog’s committed murder by Caine, which is still incredibly brutal despite the fact that the viewers could only see the scene through a thermal imaging camera.
The Grave Review
The most notable thing about Hollow Man (2000) was the advancement in visual effects (VFX) it had in its time. The film was also successful in “immersing” the viewers in scenes where Caine was invisible through multiple pan shots and flexible movements of the camera, thus, giving the audience a first-person point of view. The transformation scenes (which were inspired from books on the subject of écorchés at La Specola in Florence brought by Verhoeven’s daughter), from being visible to invisible and vice versa, were also commendable especially since they decided to show it in stages — from skin, then muscles and organs, and lastly, the skeleton.
Despite its achievement in VFX (Hollow Man was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 2001), the film’s entire plot had a few ethical dilemmas. Firstly, as with any other research for science, animal testing was depicted in the movie. So if you’re an animal rights advocate, you might not want to see this. Another dilemma was the perverted, often voyeouristic ways, Caine exhibited throughout the entire movie, which was heightened once he was invisible, resulting in him sexually harrassing his colleague and even raping a woman in his neighboring apartment. All of this was to show his god complex and possibly teasing the audience and posing the question: “what would you do if it were you?”. Of course, his god complex causes his very downfall at the end of the film.
That being said, Kevin Bacon was believable in playing a somewhat charming but overly wicked protagonist — a unique and gutsy move from a director to mold the person you want the audience to root for as. However, not much can be said about his co-stars. Dare we say that Bacon carried the acting department on his back? Yes, that might actually be the case considering that after putting much of the focus on his protagonist and his special effects department, Verhoeven forgot to shape his one-dimensional characters that could have made way for the actors to expound on their performances throughout the film.
The story pacing itself was subpar. It seems as though the interesting parts in the movie came in waves and it’s up to the viewers to figure out which scenes to watch and which ones can be used as a bathroom break. However, you might want to rethink that bathroom break for the last 30 minutes of the film which marks the big transition in the film where everything is suddenly happening all at once (I guess Verhoeven wanted to make up for the slow-paced first hour and a half of the film). After finding out about his evening escapades, his colleagues are on the hunt for Caine, who then kills them one by one, until McKay (Elisabeth Shue) succeeds in killing Hollow Man himself in a burning elevator shaft.
One could see why this was considered a breakthrough film in the sci-fi thriller genre back in 2000 — it really was ahead of its time in the special effects department. However, watching this 20 years later, it’s obvious that Verhoeven spent more time making it visually pleasing and unnecessarily sexually-driven than putting more effort on any other elements in film that might make this worth watching more than once.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Hollow Man (2000) one and one-half graves out of five graves.
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