Film Review: Hollow Man, Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Paul Verhoeven… the director of classics such as Total Recall, Starship Troopers, Robocop and…. Hollow Man? Heard of it? No… me neither. But hey, watching it at the universities’ sci-fi and fantasy society, I was sure it’d be just as good. A tale of scientists who discover how to make living things invisible! Which presents the movies first problem: ‘why’. What possible reasons would scientists have to spend so much money on making living creatures (with their main goal of humans) invisible? I pondered this for a while and thought, ‘maybe military?’, where my friend Sam mentioned how their equipment would still be showing. Well… how about… … … yeah, I’ve got nothing. I guess it’s pretty… cool? The scientists scripted reasons don’t seem to be ever mentioned, but let’s pretend they have one.

So, the movie opens with a test subject (an invisible gorilla) that the team want to revert back to being visible again. This sets the movie up in a strange way. We have to realise pretty quickly that the team have already achieved their great feat and actually are working to reverse the process. I’ll put that ‘why’ question under the ‘I’m sure they have a reason’. Anyway, this plot point leads to a pretty awesome scene where the gorilla is shown to gradually start converting. While this is done in quite old CGI, it still looks pretty awesome. The gorilla builds back from its veins, to its organs, muscles and skeleton, to finally its fur. However, I like being picky. So, the process makes a living thing invisible… meaning it effects their cells. But, what about foreign objects in the body? Why are they effected? The most obvious flaw is food… had the gorilla not eaten for days? If it had eaten, where is its digested food? Or are we to presume it, too, is effected by the miraculous science. If you’re making a serious sci-fi horror, you’re going to get asked these questions… so think about it.

So, not really a spoiler as the film is called ‘Hollow Man’ but the scientists decide to try out their stuff on one of their own. From there, the whole thing sort of goes downhill. It could be classed as a slasher film with sexual tension, where the villain constantly complains that he’s not doing anything wrong, just sneaking out invisibly to ‘fetch some stuff from his apartment’. If the invisible guy wasn’t Kevin Bacon, I think I’d have lost interest more quickly. Also, there’s an under-used thing going on with the infra-red, animals they could have done more with (though the invisible dog scene was fun). It was all just a bit… bland.

This movie works for the visuals, but that seems to be all it was made for. “Hey, this guy turning invisible would look cool with all the bones and muscles melting away… let’s make it into a movie!” There’s some plot threads floating about and they try to include character interaction but its lacking a certain completeness. It’s quite fun if you just want a dumb sci-fi movie… but for Paul Verhoeven films, stick to total recall.

Rating: 5/10

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