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Blu-ray Review: Hollow Man

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A mish-mash of Paul Verhoeven’s style, Hollow Man has it all: sex, gratuitous nudity, gore, excessive violence, and a story thin enough to keep the whole thing together. This is an entertaining sci-fi thriller, filled with lavish special effects and fun performances by the cast. Hollow Man is a generic yet memorable effort from a director known for pushing the decency envelope.

A modern day invisible man tale, Hollow Man explores the psyche of a man who is stuck in an unseen state for an extended period of time. Kevin Bacon plays the title role, slowly falling into a pit of insanity that causes him to kill, rape, and slaughter as he slowly realizes his power. All of this is done in full view of the audience and never does it shy away.

Visual effects are spectacular. The transformations are incredible, as full bodies are brought into view layer by layer. Individual organs are slowly covered by muscle tissue, then some bones, and finally skin layers. Other less noticeable yet still stunning points are the see-through mask Bacon’s character wears to give him something resembling a face. His invisible frame is covered by blood, water, and smoke, each effect more impressive than the last.

All the science is handled quickly without extended explanation. It’s enough to set the ground work and the rules for the film and then move on. Action is intense, creepy, and well planned. However, the writers seem to have missed that Bacon’s character is invisible, not invincible. The sheer beating he takes in the finale is exciting yet utterly ridiculous even in a movie like this.

Hollow Man is easily a story worth following. Those with a weak stomach or those who are prudish should know to stay away simply by considering the director's body of work. The rest can enjoy this wildly fun thriller and the visuals that go along with it.

Released on DVD multiple times, including a special edition on Sony’s SuperBit line, Hollow Man has high expectations on Blu-ray. It lives up to most of them. This is a razor sharp transfer, with a print free of any imperfections. Fine detail is excellent, though does begin to waver in the second half of the film. Color is bright and pure without becoming over-saturated.

Audio is nothing less than perfect. Prior to the heavy action of the finale, excellent use of the surround channels is evident in the lab as dogs bark and monkeys screech in all speakers. When Bacon becomes the Hollow Man, he moves and speaks to creep out his fellow scientists, and the experience is nothing short of being there. The ending is an all out audio assault, with heavy bass from the explosions and debris flying about through the sound field. This is what home audio was made for.

While still carrying a decent amount of extras, this Blu-ray is still missing features from the two-disc edition DVDs (including the above mentioned SuperBit). Hollow Man – Anatomy of a Thriller is a pure promo piece of little interest. The meat of the extras is a set of 15 featurettes running about 40 minutes total. Most provide excellent details on the production, especially one on the ape suit. Finally, three visual effects comparisons offer split screen view of the before and afters of key sequences.

Hollow Man has the distinction of the being the first Hollywood film from Verhoeven to land an R rating on its first pass through the MPAA. All four of his previous efforts required a resubmission to avoid a NC-17 (or in the case of RoboCop, an X). All were later released in their original form at some point on home video.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.