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Overall Rating
2.69

Awesome: 6.47%
Worth A Look: 17.99%
Average: 28.78%
Pretty Bad31.65%
Total Crap: 15.11%

9 reviews, 85 user ratings


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Hollow Man
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by Erik Childress

"Lack Of Ideas Make This More Cool Than Scary"
3 stars

What I love so much about director Paul Verhoeven is that he just doesn’t care. And when I say that, I’m referring to his fearlessness to just throwing as much blood, violence and T&A possible into every one of his movies. His American resume reads like a parent’s nightmare (Robocop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Showgirls and Starship Troopers) and outside of the debacle that starred Elizabeth Berkley, I’ve been a supporter and major fan of all his films. So when I saw his name attached to a sci-fi thriller concerning an invisible man who goes American Psycho on us, I was like “bring on the carnage.” Unfortunately sometimes my brain gets the better of me in the power struggle for fun, and while the film moves well through its horror film inspiration, I couldn’t help realize how it was simply more cool than scary.

As the film begins, we suspect that we are on the verge of yet another cinematic discovery on the vision that is invisibility. But that is not the problem that plagues the film’s scientists. It’s how to bring them back that is so perplexing. Kevin Bacon plays the leader of the research team, Sebastian Caine. Caine is the kind of cocky young genius who hates to sleep, eats twinkies and enjoys spying on his neighbors “Rear Window”-style. Caine’s ex-girlfriend, Linda Foster (Elisabeth Shue), is also in the group and in the true tradition of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, is sleeping with another member of the group, Matt Kensington (Josh Brolin). In the grand tradition of mad scientist movies, after a successful attempt to revive a giant gorilla back to the land of monkey-see, Caine decides to go to “phase 3” and experiment on himself with the help of his loyal assistants. After seeing the gorilla rematerialize before our very eyes, this leads to one of the more amazing visual effects achievements in recent cinema. Caine disintegrates as if acid were thrown on every inch of his body, while we focus on the appearance of major organs, muscle tissue and individual veins running through him. If only Science class was this much fun.

Caine starts to get down with his invisible self and play along with the format as the special effects keep up admirably. But when the reversibility problem rears its ugly head, Caine starts to get a little agitated, forced to become a lab rat against his will as the potential hazard of the public becoming aware of this government-funded project is increased. Such warnings go unheeded though as Caine opts to calmly escape the lab, and to not go out for a night on the town, but back to the comfort of his apartment. This leads to what may be the most talked about sequence in the film, as Caine decides to once again spy on his beautiful neighbor (Rhona Mitra, a.k.a. the actress everyone wanted to play Lara Croft in the upcoming Tomb Raider movie) from the inside of her apartment. Caine’s intentions and the thought of this moment is disturbing enough, but even more bothersome to me is that the outcome is never played out and is virtually forgotten during the rest of the running time. Was she raped? Did Caine just “scare her” as he briefly mentions in passing to a colleague? Did the woman tell anyone what happened or was she killed? These are the kind of questions that Hollow Man doesn’t have time to answer because it has to keep moving in its own convention.

This is, in fact, just the kind of big budget thriller that has to keep itself moving (and moving fast) so that the audience doesn’t catch up with the possibilities and the unanswered until well after they’ve made their way out of the theater. The first of which is the quintessential question in exactly what would someone do if they couldn’t be seen. A conversation is started amongst the team members, but its over just as quickly as it begins without a single member contributing any thoughts on the matter. The only advantages Hollow Man comes up with are to sneak up on beautiful half-dressed women and to get the drop on others before you stab them in the back, literally. This is strictly B-movie thinking as this material was covered in the campy 1990 soft-core horror classic, The Invisible Maniac. Even the universally maligned (except by myself) Chevy Chase/John Carpenter collaboration, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, had ideas about invisibility and how one would cope with not only being unable to be seen by others, but also by oneself. Since one of the themes it toys with is a relationship triangle, Hollow Man could have even explored the belief of the male species being unemotional and hollow other than the literal sense of the word. As Shue’s makes a point of saying “it’s not what I couldn’t see, it’s what I couldn’t feel.” But maybe that’s too much to wish for in a thriller like this, so let’s keep it on its own level.

An invisible man goes mad. That’s basically what we’re being sold here and on that level it does work, with some notable reservations. The special effects are incredibly impressive and effective. There’s not a moment that we don’t believe we are witnessing an invisible man running around. Verhoeven is a more-than-competent action director and the final scenes do have a great over-the-top appeal to them. Leave it to Verhoeven to have a character throw the lab’s blood supply all over the floor to detect the footsteps of their enemy. But where the visuals overwhelm, the psychological aspect disappoints. And just because it’s a thriller, doesn’t mean that it can’t be a smart thriller. Kevin Bacon’s descent into madness isn’t clearly defined. He starts off the film like such a creepy God wannabe that it doesn’t seem like a very long trip from sanity to begin with. Plus we don’t feel really sorry for him and any potential heartache he may feel when he discovers who his ex is sleeping with. We just think, “oooh is he gonna be pissed now.” What Caine plans to do after attempting to off his research team is also never quite clear. Is he planning on staying invisible forever? He seems to have mixed emotions about his constant transparentness so if he decides to be seen again, wouldn’t he need his team (the only ones who know about his condition) to get back without his heart stopping? Whatever his long-term goal is it leads the final twenty minutes of the film into a variation on the trapped rat syndrome of horror movies. Think Alien with an invisible man. And it’s here where Verhoeven makes the huge mistake of giving us (for the most part) the point of view of the invisible man instead of his prey. The thought of knowing something could be in the same room waiting to strike without being able to trust our eyes is a frightening premise and by taking the Michael Myers P.O.V., Verhoeven is never able to build sufficient suspense.

Kevin Bacon, one of the most underrated actors working today, can play a villain with the best of them. It’s not easy to create much of a compelling character when you spend most of your time as a special effect and working with a one-dimensional script, but Bacon handles himself well. In some cases it is true that an actor is only as good as the material given to them, and while Bacon always manages to rise above, Elisabeth Shue isn’t nearly as successful. After I supported Shue to win the Best Actress Oscar in 1995 for Leaving Las Vegas, she has taken a succession of roles that seem almost beneath that performance. She’s no more convincing playing a scientist here than she was in The Saint. And while she holds her own quite well in the action scenes, at other times she just seems to be playing sexy, getting all hot and bothered at the sight of her boyfriend and shaking all the right moves when she walks. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but in a high-tech thriller like Hollow Man, I would have liked to have seen her play something more than her sexpot character from Palmetto.

Those fundamental questions, which came to me well after the closing credits finally rolled, are what keeps Hollow Man from truly achieving greatness. As it stands now, it’s an entertaining, time-wasting special effects thriller, and on that level it works and I was never bored. So I’m kind of recommending Hollow Man and kind of not. It’s a fun cheap-thrills time at the movies as long as you don’t invest too much in it. It’s just a shame though when a story concept such as the invisible man story can be reinvented with such mindblowing effects yet still fails to get the writing standard up to become its equal. Perhaps Verhoeven and his team of writers just didn’t seem to care enough. (And note to Hollywood filmmakers, can we please stop killing little doggies on screen. There is a moment in Hollow Man so brutal and shocking that I actually screamed out “WHAT THE F#@!” at the screen. Seeing Patrick Bateman kick a homeless man’s dog to death is already more than I needed to see (and especially hear) this year at the movies. If that’s the only way you can make your villain seem evil, than another rewrite is waiting for you. )

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1864&reviewer=198
originally posted: 08/04/00 09:11:28
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell dull sadistic crap watch the invisible man instead 1 stars
1/19/14 Luis Paz Awful, awful movie. The scientists in this film have to be the stupidest people ever. 1 stars
8/16/10 PAUL SHORTT SILLY, VIOLENT AND PREDICTABLE 1 stars
7/11/10 art VINCENT PRICE WAS the BEST INVISIBLE MAN! 1 stars
10/23/09 Gangster21 Thank you for having the courage to resign, and to bring this scandalous behaviour to light 5 stars
9/21/09 www.itsallaboutbees.com Vrachah,avromView my complete profile This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects o 5 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner Well Made! 4 stars
4/11/08 R.W. Welch Nifty F/X. Little else of interest. 3 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White suspense with no reason 2 stars
2/11/08 Mark Great movie, violance, nudity and a suspense, I loved it... 5 stars
1/27/07 action movie fan a phenomenon today as well! good invisible man update, one of the best of 2000 4 stars
12/27/06 William Goss An admittedly entertaining hunk of B-grade cheese with superb effects. 3 stars
7/20/06 faraz khan brilliant fiction 5 stars
12/28/05 Sugarfoot The perfect root for the bad guy movie, afterall Kevin Bacon is the only one who can act... 3 stars
8/11/05 ES it's good, its cool, oops it all falls apart, tsk, tsk 2 stars
6/10/05 Indrid Cold Something like this would have been a phenomenon 30 years ago, but it totally sucks now. 2 stars
1/31/05 New Jersey Rules One of the shittiest movies, ever. 1 stars
10/24/04 LUCAS awesome 5 stars
8/27/04 American Slasher Goddess It's decent with some good F/X 3 stars
1/15/04 Samuel Actuallt, a pretty good movie and some good effects 4 stars
1/07/04 John pointless - too bad 1 stars
11/25/03 homer J. Simpson It could have been great, what were you thinking people, elizabeth should have been naked 2 stars
11/04/03 jason Rhona Mitra's nude action was explosive 5 stars
10/01/03 Jinnvisible More like the invisible pervert,,man gains invisibility & turns knickersniffer 1 stars
9/16/03 Charles Tatum Great special effects in a big piece of sci-fi cheese 4 stars
8/04/03 Double G im watching it right now so far it sucks 1 stars
5/06/03 John Bale Great special Fx but pervy and nerdy script makes this teenage fodder. 2 stars
4/29/03 Jin Almost as shitty as Wild Things. Acting was atrocious. 2 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Vile stuff with nary a whisper of imagination. 1 stars
12/10/02 Garbo Yau Mun this film was great 5 stars
8/05/02 KMG HOLLOW HEAD 3 stars
5/15/02 Blake This movie was okay but it had too much profanity. 4 stars
3/01/02 Andrew Jarret It was crappy, it will be better if they make the raping scene longer and her naked 2 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Starts out good, quickly turns unbelievably dumb. Ms. Shue doesn't get naked either...... 2 stars
2/27/02 Sklorsh Could have been much better - More boobs 2 stars
2/25/02 Jenny Tullwartz STIR OF ECHOES, WILD THINGS, now this - Will Kevin Bacon ever get out of purgatory? 1 stars
1/16/02 David A. Interesting. Also, I loved the joke about Superman and Wonder Woman. 4 stars
12/01/01 Scottish Kilt Starts well, then becomes too predictable, and turns into utter pish. 2 stars
11/14/01 Mike Good effects. Tired story. Crap out ending. 2 stars
10/31/01 Monster W. Kung Good effects, but the script blows. First part OK, the rest is trash. 2 stars
10/16/01 Mr. Hat An awesome gem for the first hour and 15 minutes, but the rest sort of weighs it down. 4 stars
5/05/01 The Moorhen I can't believe I bought this. Rhona Mitra (shower chick) is the only good bit. 2 stars
4/24/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Starts Sci-Fi thriller, ends Slasher Flick. That concept usually works better in reverse. 3 stars
4/22/01 sequoia if you wnat an exciting movie with a great plot......see something else! 2 stars
4/11/01 Jesse L Only way to save it was to go for full nudity.. It was awful.. 1 stars
3/21/01 Thomas J. movie is about as useless as Tipper Gores ovaries! 1 stars
1/11/01 Matt69 Piece of shit, except when he bangs the hot bitch across the street 2 stars
1/06/01 I love movies no story. NO STORY! Just a stupid Superman joke! 1 stars
1/04/01 The Bomb 69 good throughout but the ending was a letdown 4 stars
10/31/00 joe if you go expecting a mad slasher movie with some spectacular effects , you'll like it. 4 stars
9/14/00 Ground Zero a rehash of the classic Invisible Man flick 3 stars
9/10/00 bullit17 Great special effects. Entertaining. Not much of a plot, but what is these days? 4 stars
9/10/00 MIKE AWFUL. NO PLOT. I WOULD RATHER KISS A WOMAN THEN SEE THIS AGAIN! 1 stars
9/07/00 Wafer This is my bottom 5 of all time. seriously 1 stars
8/28/00 coby de beer it,s very good 4 stars
8/25/00 matthew smith visually, very impressive 4 stars
8/16/00 PhilmPhreak Not as bad as everyone says it is. 4 stars
8/14/00 Truckgirl held my attention til the very end when it got a little crazy... 4 stars
8/13/00 Bueller Woulda, coulda, shoulda, mighta, oughta have made a better movie! Hollow plot and acting! 2 stars
8/12/00 Robert Sharp WAIT UNTIL IT COMES TO VIDEO 3 stars
8/12/00 Zaccone Truely horrible 1 stars
8/10/00 pipeman Watchable until the last 15 minutes when all hell breaks loose with the script and dialoge. 4 stars
8/10/00 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Even with the hella special FX and talented cast, the movie seems, well...hollow... 3 stars
8/09/00 Poetcdh Cliche, cliche, cliche--wait for it at the $1.00 movie 1 stars
8/09/00 Ilia Rogachev The freezer cooling fans had an on/off dial on them as plain as day. No hair circulation. 1 stars
8/09/00 PJ So So Bad! it's O.K. Campy crap done well 3 stars
8/09/00 Sarah Johnson If you are expecting a well thought out suspensful thriller this is not it. 2 stars
8/08/00 Captain Highcrime Great FX, Shitty dialogue/acting: about as scary as power failure in the daytime. 4 stars
8/08/00 KoHawk Great effects, but we're stuck in a science lab for 2 hrs. Tell me he wouldn't go to city. 3 stars
8/08/00 TheAngryMob Loads O Fun! 4 stars
8/08/00 JussMatt Plenty of T&A, and special effects, but with all that $$ you think they could find a plot!! 3 stars
8/07/00 Doctor Collosus Needs more T&A dammit. 3 stars
8/07/00 Gil Carlson Mindless and gratuitous 3 stars
8/07/00 Marv Albert...SUpa Pervert! give me T&A and i'll be a happy camper 4 stars
8/07/00 Barry Pretty damned good...best special effects yet and good storyline as well! 5 stars
8/06/00 mahone Hollywood: spend money on scripts!!! 3 stars
8/06/00 Georges'sThumbInMyBumb um, just another flick for kevin to try to flash his more then tiny dong 1 stars
8/06/00 Tony The Lurch I've lost my faith in "Erik the Movieman" this movie truly blew 1 stars
8/06/00 chuck Should have waited for the $1.00 movie theater 2 stars
8/06/00 ILuvADrugDealer Script&ending are kind of crappy, but special effects were *AWESOME*! 4 stars
8/05/00 **~**yeah and he was gay**~** interesting, but still lacking, the special fx saved this movie 3 stars
8/05/00 Dr. King Amazing fx and trashy fun. Plus Kevin Bacon needs an Honorary Oscar for his hard work 5 stars
8/03/00 Jokko Hilariously bad. I mean BAD. I had no idea they could put out Battlefield Earth II so fast. 1 stars
8/02/00 Rue the Whirl Pure Hollywood trash. 2 stars
8/02/00 Tim Ryan So bad, seeing it for free was still a rip off. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  04-Aug-2000 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  24-Aug-2000 (MA)




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