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Entertaining just enough, but ultimately hollow

Author: Wuchak from Ohio/PA border
12 September 2014

I remember really looking forward to "Hollow Man" when it came out in 2000 because the idea of becoming invisible is intriguing. I was entertained when I saw it, but also somewhat disappointed; an odd mix. Viewing it again last night I was wondering if I'd have the same impression and the answer is yes.

The story revolves around a group of young-ish scientists (who are too edgy and "hip" to be believable) working on a serum for the government that can make people invisible. Their secret lab is underground in an industrial sector of Washington DC. They've been experimenting on animals, including a gorilla, with some success, but the group leader, Sebastian (Kevin Bacon), wants to take the next step by prematurely experimenting on himself. Havok ensues.

Elisabeth Shue and Josh Brolin play key teammembers, Linda and Matthew. Linda is also Sebastian's ex-girlfriend who's secretly seeing Matthew, which stirs Sebastian's jealousy when he finds out. (But why should he care since he's no longer seeing her?)

I don't know if it's the fault of the director or writer, but they go a little overboard in trying to make the protagonists edgy (overkill cussing, etc.) to the point that the characters somewhat lose the viewer's sympathy. Thankfully, it's just a little overboard because most of the rest of the researchers are likable beyond Sebastian. And Linda and Matthew weren't really doing anything wrong by seeing each other since, again, Linda was no longer Sebastian's babe.

Even though one member of the team morphs into the villain, he's not without interesting qualities in the first half of the movie. In fact, I can't help but respect his "we're the originators of this project so we make the rules" attitude and his consequent refusal to submit to the manipulative authorities over him.

While there are some outside sequences (shot in DC and L.A.) the bulk of the film is confined to the underground lab, shot on sets in Culver City. The good thing is that these sets are excellent, as far as underground labs go, but it makes for a one-dimensional viewing.

Memorable and amusing parts abound, however, like the excellent F/X of the partially appearing/disappearing gorilla and, later, Sebastian. Also, the amusing way invisible-Sebastian has some fun with a couple of kids in another car. There's also a laugh-out-loud joke about Superman, Wonder Woman and the "Invisible Man," crude though it may be. I also like the double meaning of the title: Sebastian isn't just a hollow man literally, but also due to his ignoble character -- arrogance, lust, etc.

While "Hollow Man" is a sci-fi/thriller it takes on horror elements and clichés in the final act as the researchers are wiped out one by one. Who will survive? So, while "Hollow Man" is worth watching, it's far from great, mainly because it fails to take advantage of the promising material and essentially becomes a one-dimensional boogeyman movie.


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I'm invisible!

Author: rbn_lrk-1 from Denmark
8 May 2014

So I went out to a market one day.

I was buying this movie because I remember I had rented this for years ago.

This movie stars Kevin Bacon from movies like Apollo 13.

The movie starts with experiments on invisible animals.

Kevin Bacon plays the man who wants to become invisible too.

Then things goes slight out of hand.

The invisible man becomes dangerous.

In the row of 1999-2000 thrillers/horror/science fiction movies this was one of the better I have seen.

If you like this category of movies give this a rent.


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not so bad

Author: Armand from Romania
7 January 2014

basic sin - too many high expectations.and a too large story. than, the feeling than Kevin Bacon is only surviver on a kind of Titanic. the good point - special effects. and the rain of Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde crumbs. strange fact - the precise verdict after its end than it could be better. short - too many ambitions. and a not inspired plot who is only the cloak for images toys.the purpose is to impress and it is not a new desire from Paul Verhoeven. but a firework is not ever the same with a thorough work.and this is fundamental problem in this case. sure, it is scary, seductive, almost interesting. but after film credits it remains nothing in memory of viewer. maybe , only the thin verdict - perhaps, it has few nice scenes.

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Not Hollow At All

Author: cstotlar-1 from United States
5 January 2014

I was pleasantly surprised by this film. The acting was quite adequate, the film score very imaginative and the special effects amazing (and gruesome). It copies "The Invisible Man", made half a century before, in having its protagonist lose his mind but unlike the other film, there is no humor to be found - nor any reason for it. It is a bit too apocalyptic near the end and I felt that the special effects turned it perhaps too much into a technical spectacle, but it made sense in general and brought me more pleasure than I had expected. Kevin Bacon was certainly up the his part and William Devane was frightening in his brief scene,

Curtis Stotlar

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Could have been soft porn

Author: SnoopyStyle
9 November 2013

Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is a scientist working on an invisibility serum. He's working with his ex Linda McKay (Elisabeth Shue) and her new secret boyfriend Matthew Kensington (Josh Brolin). Without telling his military backers, he moves forward to human testing with dire consequences.

It doesn't surprise me that this was directed by Paul Verhoeven. The first thing the invisible guy does is to grab sleeping lady's boob. There is no surprise or suspense here. The guy turns from peeping tom straight to murder and rape. It's the limit of his vision.

The CG is well done for that era. It's well integrated into the real world. That could have made this a great horror movie. It's been a long time since the Invisible man was a relevant character. It's not going to be one on the backs of this movie.

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Not fantastic but quite okay

Author: p-jonsson from France
8 May 2013

I have been unusually lucky with my SyFy-channel movie watching lately. I had no idea what this movie was really but there was nothing else on last night and I also noticed that it was directed by Paul Verhoeven which have directed quite a few movies that I really liked so I decided to give it a try. As it turned out, this is another movie that is somewhat above the usual standard for movies given on SyFy.

It has a rating on 27% on Rotten Tomatoes which is just bullshit. But then, the so called "professional critics" used by the Rotten Tomatoes are dimwits who trash every movie that is not "intellectual" enough for their self-imagined refined tastes. I do not know why they continue to use these clowns for their official rating system instead of the real audience? On IMDb it holds a 5.6 out of 10 rating which is more realistic. I was hesitating between 7 and 6. In the end I gave it a 6 because, as I said in the title, it is a quite okay movie but not a fantastic one.

The story of the movie is a fairly standard one. Scientist experiments on himself, experiment goes wrong, scientist goes mad, hack hack, chop chop, scientist dies, happy ending for the remaining survivors. Thus the movie pretty much relies on its special effects which are indeed quite good. The various invisible effects, not to mention the scenes where Caine is partially visible due to smoke or water effects, are quite enjoyable to watch.

Kevin Bacon is making quite a performance as a very disagreeable fanatic scientist. He is doing a remarkably good job of it even when he is covered by a latex mask which of course is quite a feat being deprived of any facial expressions. The rest of the cast was fairly standard Hollywood fare, that is, fairly bland.

On the whole I found the movie quite enjoyable. It was perhaps a bit slow at the beginning and Cain's show of megalomaniacal attitudes was indeed becoming a bit tiresome after a while. As I said, his roles was a very disagreeable one. Once he became invisible things started to become more interesting although it took a wee time for things to speed up even then.

It was certainly not a wasted movie evening and the movie is worth at least 6 out of 10 stars.

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An embarrassingly over-the-top shlock-fest that is still quite enjoyable

Author: tomgillespie2002 from United Kingdom
2 September 2012

The story of the Invisible Man has taken many forms on TV, film and in literature since the publication of H.G. Wells' classic novel. The best known, possibly, is James Whale's fantastic Universal adaptation, starring Claude Rains as the scientist gone mad, and actors from the likes of David McCallum and Chevy Chase have played the title character since then to various degrees of sympathy. It was always a story of the psychological effects a new found power can have on a human being, posing the inevitable question of what would you do if no-one could see you? I wouldn't like to dwell on the things I would find myself getting up to, but director Paul Verhoeven is clear as to what he thinks men would get up to - voyeurism and rape, and this is a key theme throughout Hollow Man, amidst all the extreme gore of course.

Arrogant, obnoxious scientist Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) makes a breakthrough in reversing invisibility on a gorilla, but when reporting his success to the Pentagon, he opts to hold back information to gain more time to experiment on himself. Co-workers Linda (Elisabeth Shue), an ex-lover and still the subject of Caine's affections, and Matthew (Josh Brolin), who is secretly dating Linda, voice their objections, but Caine's insistence eventually wins them round, and successfully turns himself invisible. The reverse serum does not work, so Caine is stuck wearing a rubber mask and shades while they work on the solution. But Caine finds that with great power comes endless possibilities, and his behaviour becomes increasingly more erratic and sinister, and begins to sabotage his colleagues efforts to bring him back.

Subtlety has never been Paul Verhoeven's strong suit, but where his films are always hugely tacky and pornographically violent, they come with a satirical bite, more often than not at the U.S.'s expense. But where Starship Troopers (1997), for example, was a massive amount of fun as well as being pretty bloody clever (American soldiers dressed like Nazis!), Hollow Man doesn't have the capacity to be anything but a familiar story with a large helping of cheddar and stock characters, and the satire is left outside. It's still enjoyable seeing the various faceless characters receive a grisly butchering, and some impressive CGI (even by today's standards) reveals many inventive ways you can see an invisible man.

But it's often embarrassingly over-the-top and the script is woeful even by it's own schlock standards ("don't you die on me!"). Caine's infatuation with the hot woman across the road (played by Rhona Mitra) leads to a nasty rape, and Caine frequently takes liberties with Linda and veterinarian Sarah (Kim Dickens). It's an interesting theme, and no doubt something that a lot of men would take up given the power of invisibility, but Verhoeven's camera seems to almost enjoy the voyeurism, making certain scenes quite uncomfortable. Yet an enjoyably hammy performance from Bacon overshadows the blandness of Shue and Brolin's one-dimensional characters, and helps lifts the film from bad, to average.

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Ghosts are dead.....

Author: FlashCallahan from Leicester, United Kingdom
27 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After years of experimentation, brilliant but arrogant scientist Sebastian Caine has discovered a way to make matter invisible.

Determined to achieve the ultimate breakthrough, Caine pushes his team to move to the next phase - using himself as the subject.

The test is a success, but when the process can't be reversed and Caine seems doomed to future without flesh, he begins to show some unexpected side effects of his extraordinary condition.....?

Hollow man is a B movie dressed up as an expensive blockbuster. Bacon and Verhoeven know this, but the ret of the cast, even Brolin and Shue, believe they are starring in something groundbreaking.

12 years down the line, the effects are as good as anything released today, and the use of reveals of Caine are mental and so inventive.

Bacon is great as the demented scientist, who goes a little more barking once he has injected his serum, and after his first encounter and kill, the film goes from sci if, to stalk and slash territory.

There are two things that really got my goat about his film, the fact that Caine should have died at least six times in the final act, and the wort one of all, when Caine fist leaves the compound and Shue goes to his flat, why did he feel the need to hide behind a wall when she turned to look. The guys transparent.

So all in all it's no a masterpiece, but it's fun for ninety minutes, and as said before, the effects are amazing.

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Makes you wonder about invisibility but the rest is tiresome

Author: breakdownthatfilm-blogspot-com from United States
30 July 2012

Invisibility has always been a neat idea. Some of it has been explored before and it has been used in many fashions. But to have it done in this particular way is another story. Becoming invisible in this world is a scientific reality; not magic. That's what makes this a cool concept. To actually come up with a formula that disguises the human body so that it becomes transparent with any light that is reflected off it is absolutely stunning. And that is what starts off our story here.

Kevin Bacon plays Sebastian Caine, a scientist who cracked the code for making any biological organism absolutely transparent to the naked eye. The problem is that he has never tested it on a human body, until now. So to make sure that it actually does work, Caine decides to test it on himself. This is where the really cool stuff joins the screen. To become invisible, Caine is injected with the serum that will make him transparent. When this occurs, soon all of Caine's skin, then muscles, and organs start to appear. It's as if the viewer is brought back to the days where there were charts of the human body hanging in the science classes.

Then there's the case of Bacon's character actually being invisible. A lot of is well done because of how delicate it is to balance between what is on screen and what actually isn't. Making a plastic face mold for Caine so the rest of his crew could see him was an incredible stroke. Let's not forget that Bacon has some fun with his character before he really starts to head off the deep end. It is from there that Hollow Man begins to become frustrating.

Soon after becoming invisible, Caine's crew members can't seem to figure out a way of making him visible again. Because of this, Caine starts to become restless and aggressive. Once he heads down this path, he doesn't return. Soon, he begins to disobey his co-workers and runs amok in the lab. It's actually quite disappointing to see because something different could have been done to make Sebastian Caine a little more interesting. Some audiences would have found his performance more appreciative if his character started doing good things out of the ordinary for other individuals. I for one would have enjoyed if he took that path; but that isn't the case.

Like any Verhoeven film though, the gore is definitely there. By the finale of the film, Caine is one sick puppy. Some of the weapons he uses on his victims and the way he uses them are just downright brutal. Even science fiction soundtrack master Jerry Goldsmith couldn't help this film. He definitely had the sci-fi tones in his music but no real feeling in it. Come on Goldsmith!

It's nice to see Paul Verhoeven do amazing things with the power of invisibility. However, the character of Sebastian Caine isn't anything worth watching. Kevin Bacon tries to entertain but the story spirals down into one big mess.

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Good entertainment.

Author: Scott LeBrun (Hey_Sweden) from Canada
7 June 2012

The story of The Invisible Man is updated for the 21st century in this tale of research scientists who've managed to turn animals invisible and then bring them back, and the arrogant egomaniac in charge, Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon). He's ready to start testing the process on people, and offers himself up as the guinea pig. Trouble arises when they can't make him visible again, and he becomes utterly frustrated, then gleeful when he realizes the power he holds. So it's then a very short trip into psycho territory for this genius, who begins to terrorize various unlucky individuals, including his own team. The movie is certainly not without its flaws, as eventually it does turn pretty routine, a high tech, sci-fi slasher with an overblown, Hollywood style climax, characters who start acting rather dumb, and, to top it all off, a villain whose virtual indestructibility makes him akin to a typical horror movie antagonist. Still, it's extremely well made technically, with director Paul Verhoeven in fine form, and does have a substantially nasty edge that may amuse some fans of the genre. Even at an hour and 53 minutes, it is paced fairly well, and gets a lot of mileage from Bacon's fun villainous portrayal. Elisabeth Shue and Josh Brolin also do fairly well as the co-leads trying to keep their romance secret, knowing well how ugly Caine's reaction would be to the truth. The main reason to see this movie are the eye popping special effects, especially as we see characters like Caine and the gorilla go through stages of visibility. Even with its flaws, the movie is undeniably exciting and far from boring. Followed by a direct to DVD sequel six years later. Seven out of 10.

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