In Paul Verhoeven's appropriately shallow Hollow Man
, Kevin Bacon plays a bad-boy egotistical scientist who heads up a double-secret government team experimenting with turning life-forms invisible. How do we know he's a bad boy? Because he (a) wears a leather overcoat, (b) compares himself to God, (c) drives a sports car and (d) spies on his comely next-door neighbour while eating Twinkies. Sadly, this is the most character development anyone gets in this undernourished action/sci-fi thriller, which boasts some phenomenal, seamless and Oscar-worthy computer effects and some amazingly ridiculous plot twists. After experimenting rather ruthlessly on a menagerie of lab animals, Bacon finally cracks the code that will turn the invisible gorillas, dogs and so on back into their visible forms, and promptly volunteers as a human guinea pig. Sure enough he is rendered invisible, organ by organ, vein by vein, and then proceeds to spy on his female co-workers in the bathroom and molest his comely next-door neighbour.
Soon, Bacon is thoroughly psychotic, and it's up to Elisabeth Shue (Bacon's co-worker and ex-girlfriend) and hunky Josh Brolin (her current snuggle bunny) to defeat the invisible man, who's picking off the science team one by one. You'd think this would be a prime opportunity for copious amounts of cheesy sex and aggressive violence--which Verhoeven served up so well and so exuberantly in Starship Troopers and Basic Instinct--but if anything, the director seems to tone down the proceedings, and really, who wants a muted Paul Verhoeven movie? --Mark Englehart, Amazon.com
On the DVD: In the audio commentary with director Paul Verhoeven and star Kevin Bacon, Hollow Man scriptwriter Andrew Marlowe reveals that the story had been in development for some nine years before it got made, and that he had worked on it for "a number of years". An amazing revelation, given that the main attraction of this DVD is surely the cutting-edge special effects and the fascinating behind-the-scenes deconstruction of them. The DVD viewer cannot help but wonder how anyone could have spent years on a script that looks like it was cobbled together over a weekend as an excuse to play around with some really neat CGI effects. The various documentary features on the disc break down all the key FX scenes in exhaustive detail, showing the creative blend of live action and CGI and all the painstaking methods by which it was achieved. Director Verhoeven is appropriately profiled as "Hollywood's Mad Scientist" in the "Anatomy of a Thriller" featurette (in the commentary he makes a comparison with Hitchcock's Rear Window that only serves to underline the gulf between his ambitious vision and its execution). Elsewhere, legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith provides a commentary to his music, which gives hope to fans that he will now do the same for some of his better scores. There are deleted scenes, trailers, storyboards and a really neat menu interface to round off an enjoyable DVD package. Anamorphic picture and sound quality are impeccable. --Mark Walker
A team of scientists is assigned to a secret government research project to experiment with the possibility of invisibility. When they find that one of their formulas works on animals, Dr. Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) violates the rules of the project and tries it on himself. It works: he becomes invisible, but soon after that the team find that the formula is irreversible. He suspects his colleagues, Linda McCay (Elisabeth Shue) and Matt Kensington (Josh Brolin) of sabotaging him: making him invisible forever, and he decides to seek revenge on them. From the director of Basic Instinct and Total Recall, Paul Verhoeven, comes this suspense-filled thriller, full of special effects and technical tricks.