November 1, 2015

Hollow Man (2000)

Feels very similar to The Fly, but Hollow Man is only successful for its effects. The following synopsis describes both movies:
"Lone wolf scientist develops breakthrough invention, but tests it on himself to disastrous results. The experiment drives him mad. A love triangle acts as a catalyst for his anger, and he goes on a murderous rampage."
The special effects in Hollow Man still look great, after 15 years of technology improvements. The effects of shapes draped over the invisible form, but also the effects of the human (and gorilla) bodies appearing and disappearing one layer at a time look incredible. By the end of the movie, they've shown off the invisibility effects in every way possible- the invisible man has been draped in cloth, covered in liquid latex, walked though steam, drenched in sprinkler water, drenched in blood, immersed in a swimming pool, walked through smoke - he's done everything except become smothered in chocolate sauce.
The rest of the movie is not so great. Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon) is a real prick from the very beginning of the movie, so the audience is not rooting for him, and when he evolves from a jerk to a creep to a rapist to a murderer, he doesn't change that much. Whether he's the antagonist or the protagonist, the movie cannot succeed when we can't see the guy's face for most of the film.
Directed by regressive libertine Paul Verhoeven, the movie presents a workplace where the scientists continually bicker, argue, and compete with each other, and scientist Linda McKay (Elisabeth Shue) ended an affair with Caine, but now she's taken up with their colleague Matthew Kensington (Josh Brolin). Caine continually harasses McKay, who never says "no" to Caine, sending definite mixed messages to his former lover. It's a real mess from a modern feminist standpoint. It technically passes the Bechdel Test, but when the two women who talk to each other have both been groped by their boss in the previous 24 hours, it hardly feels like a victory for women in film.
Nineties Test: Hollow Man flunks the timelessness test immediately. Not only does it have a long opening title sequence, which were already passe in 2000, the title sequence uses all lower-case letters, which were very trendy, combined with letters floating through space - it was supposed to look like molecules fusing together, but I was reminded of alphabet soup. Some of the costumes are okay, but the late 90s affection for tan, brown, taupe, and grey is everywhere. Joey Slotnick wears an all-brown costume at one point. There are plenty of computers and phony user interfaces, but the invisibility is the star of the movie, so the computers are kept in the background. (On Demand)