AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: The Hollow Man (2000)

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Today I’m going to look at another more modern take on the concept of the invisible man.  Let’s check out The Hollow Man starring Kevin Bacon and directed by Paul Verhoeven.

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It was released in 2000 and had a great supporting cast including Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens and William Devane.

I remember seeing this movie in the theater fifteen years ago. For some reason I remember it being an early screening a week or so before the wide release. Sometimes movies would come and play early at one of my theaters in Birmingham as sort of a promotional/press screening and “regular people” could get any extra seats they couldn’t give away. But I’m not 100% sure that’s what happened. Regardless, I saw this in the theater in 2000.

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From that initial viewing, I remember liking some of the concepts of the movie and the special effects but being underwhelmed by the movie as a whole. I haven’t watched this movie since that day in the theater, so I decided to rewatch it and review it for AWESOME-tober-fest this year.

The movie is pretty good. It’s a mostly closed set environment. The scientists all interact in an underground lab. Once or twice you are taken to the surface, but 90% of the action is in the underground lab. Kevin Bacon plays Sebastian Caine, the head of a team of scientists working on achieving invisibility.  The team has successfully turned a gorilla invisible, but the issue they seem to be having is turning the gorilla back visible.

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Early on Bacon has a breakthrough and figures out how to possibly make the re-visibility formula work. So they test it on the invisible gorilla.  And it works.  But Bacon being the smug, a-hole, glory loving scientist he is decides to test the entire process on himself.  And that’s where the fun begins.

Bacon is pretty great as Caine who sees himself as a cross between Einstein and Elvis Presley.  He plays the total creepy, smug, d-bag to perfection.  Elisabeth Shue is his colleague and former flame.  James Brolin is another scientist on the team who is currently with Elisabeth Shue.  And therein creates the love triangle.  There are several other scientists/murder victims that inhabit this lab as well.

Like I said, this movie is mostly executed well.  Bacon, even though he’s not seen through most of the movie, believably shows Caine’s slow decent into madness from being invisible for too long.  The other actors play against him realistically unlike the actors in Star Wars Episode I against Jar Jar Binks which was only the year before.  But the shining star in this movie are the effects.  The invisible effects are amazing and they still hold up very well considering they are a decade and a half old.  I’m willing to bet that the visual effects in the 1999 The Mummy movie were what convinced the filmmakers that this movie could be made.  There are several times where Bacon’s invisible man looks like the mummy in that movie.

Some good moments:

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At this moment in the movie, the team is fresh off turning the gorilla visible again. They are celebrating and Caine asks Shue’s character if she wishes they could turn back the clock, essentially asking if she wishes they were back together. Shue says the line, “I’d say that kind of time travel doesn’t exist.” I assume that has to be a slight nod to her small roles in Back to the Future Part II and Part III.

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Like I said, the effects are pretty great. The transition to invisibility involves each layer of the body disappearing one step at a time, like you’re slowly peeling away the layers of an onion. Lots of data modeling had to be done before hand to make this work as effectively as it does.  This “layered invisibility” was also done in the Batman Unseen comic.

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Here is where the title comes from.  Instead of wearing bandages and goggles like Claude Rains, Bacon and the scientists have a latex mold of his head created so he can walk around visible to everyone.  This “mask” creates a “hollow shell” look that is very creepy and effective.

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The few times he actually leaves the lab Bacon wears more familiar “invisible man” garb.

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There are several scenes in the movie where the environment makes Bacon visible. Things like fire hydrant foam, smoke and water will reveal his body. It looks great and it’s used effectively throughout the movie.

So, overall, a pretty good movie. Similar in some respects to other “stalker in a confined space” type movies but the concept of the killer being invisible sets it a little bit apart.  And the phenomenal effects just make the movie that much more real and creepy.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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