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Movie Reviews

Hollow Man  

"Hollow Man" is not without its pleasures. For one thing, its title adjective is painfully apropos. But there are also, it can not be denied, the effects. And terrific effects they are.

The movie begins promisingly enough, with a likable, albeit familiar, ensemble cast of medical geeks embroiled in a project that yields stunning visual treats for the audience. Among the highlights are the very first scene and the visible spread of the invisibility serum (and its antidote) through various bodies.

But there are early warning signs about the flaws which will multiply and ultimately weigh down this flick. Minor stretches of logic and laps of cohesion that you're willing to forgive at the outset end up feeling like foreshadowing for the groaners to come.
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For one thing, it would have been nice, if nothing more, to have credited "Invisible Man" author H.G. Wells. After all, whatever new story has been tacked on hardly merits a new writing credit, anyway.

In fact, the entire scenario is simply all-too familiar. The amiable crew simmering with a few tensions, primarily due to their suspiciously ambitious leader - Kevin Bacon, in the title (but mysteriously second-billed) role. The early, ignored, forebodings of dark doings to come.

And then, unfortunately, the cliches pile on. The victims-to-be don't use their full wits or resources. They split up. You heard right, they split up to go search for the bad guy. And, in the climactic sequence, when they're trapped with the now-homicidal Bacon in the lab, they don't use the escape path available to them until it becomes convenient for the plot's progression for them to do so.

There is a nice touch, it must be said, in one character's resourcefulness. She actually generates magnetic waves by circulating an electric current around a bar of metal. We can only hope MacGyver got a cut of the box office.

In fact, the cliches are so egregious, that it seems forgivable to give away some of the alleged shocks to illustrate their awfulness. Here's what Kevin Bacon survives in order to rise again over and over during the final scenes: A full-force blow to the head with a crowbar; a sustained fire that envelopes his entire body for a considerable period of time, but for some reason does not melt the flesh-simulating mask he's wearing onto his skin; and a powerful electric shock that results when he jams a metal bar into a fuse box.

Despite all that, he retains the ability to somehow survive the apocalyptic final explosion and pursue our heroes through the bitter end of the very last reel.

And for all the power the effects have achieved throughout the movie, they woefully fail the final scene, rendering it almost giggle-inducing. "Hollow Man" ends up very much like that hollow man, or woman, with whom you may have spent a wayward drunken evening. Fantastic looks, but not much else going on.

Jonathan Larsen

Second Opinion By Simon Gurr

People may be thinking of going to see The Hollow Man, which comes out here in the UK on Friday. I saw it on Saturday, with high hopes (somehow missed Verhoeven's involvement), and ended up sorely disappointed. It's a nasty, unimaginative, pale reflection of the Claude Rains Invisible Man, so badly written that you don't even care about the special effects that it relies on so heavily. Make your own minds up, but you have been warned. You'd be better off staying at home with your back progs of 2000AD, reading The Visible Man instead!

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