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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Arabic, Turkish, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Hindi, Bulgarian
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes - with director's commentary
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Audio commentary
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Isolated music score
  • Animated menus
  • Documentaries

Hollow Man - Collector's Edition

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 108 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Paul Verhoeven's 1987 hit Robocop showed a capability for producing work that was successful both artistically and commercially.

His latest, Hollow Man, failed on both counts. As with his previous effort, Starship Troopers, the special effects are amazing, but it's hard to tell what is flimsier, the plot or the science.

Sebastian Caine is a brilliant scientist, working on a top secret government research project aimed at turning people invisible. At the beginning of the film, his team has already succeeded in turning a variety of creatures invisible, but are having difficulty reverting them back to the visible spectrum. When Caine makes a breakthrough with a perfect experiment on a gorilla, he insists on being the first human guinea pig.

Verhoeven would have us believe that his film examines the question of what a person would do if the chance of punishment was removed from the equation. It fails for two basic reasons. Firstly, as written, Caine is already a repugnant character before he becomes invisible, making the 'unexpected side effects' mentioned on the blurb anything but. A scant couple of days into his invisibility and he's raping his neighbour before you can say 'Lara Croft'. It's difficult to make a sweeping statement when your character arc is flatter than Kate Moss. Perhaps if Caine was a highly moral person to begin with and actually struggled with his conscience rather than diving into villiany like a pig into poo, I'd be convinced.

More importantly, we already know that people will commit crimes if they won't suffer the repercussions. Look at the LA riots. Look at Verhoeven's own Robocop, which makes precisely this point during the police strike. Hell, consider the average criminal - no sane person commits crimes expecting to get caught! So what's the point?

Truly vital sci-fi has the ability to make us question our humanity, our society and the world and universe around us. Hollow Man does not, but it does have gratuitous nudity and violence in substitute. For some, this is perhaps enough. To my mind, though, seeing the plot descend to a generic slasher film at the end is a criminal waste of potential, and a good concept wasted hurts more than something that never had potential (frighteningly, the script was worked on for nine years, and this was the best they could come up with).

  Video
Contract

One word here: Gorgeous. Simply a stunning image, with reference level sharpness and clarity. Shadows are impeccable, fully-saturated colours burst off the screen and every detail seems to have made the transition from film stock to disc without compromise.

Verhoeven has again employed cinematographer Jost Vacano, who worked with the director on several projects including Robocop and Total Recall, and also provided a gritty visual realism for Wolfgang Petersen's essential war pic Das Boot. They've gone for a hyper-realistic feel on this film, with cold blue lighting in the science lab, and warmer tones in the older parts of the facility and in the outside world.

The most impressive aspect to the disc is just how sharp it is without introducing loads of aliasing. Obviously the compression engineers at Sony have really mastered their equipment - I don't see much scope for improvement on a film to video transfer with DVD-level technology. Excellent work.

  Audio
Contract

I can't complain about the audio either - we're talking one of Jerry Goldsmith's best efforts in several years, a subdued, haunting theme, filling the soundstage effortlessly. Adding to this is solid support from the rear speakers, with plenty of opportunities for discretely placed voices and both ambient and aggressive effects.

Dialogue is consistently clear and easy to understand, though some ADR work is evident. The bass channel gives appropriate support to the action, especially in the more ludicrous moments.

  Extras
Contract

Quite a lot of extras here. Effects junkies, please go nuts.

  • Commentary - with Verhoeven, Kevin Bacon and writer Andrew Marlowe. Not as entertaining as the Starship Troopers commentary, but you still get to hear Verhoeven comment, "And here ve had to replace ze real breast wiz ze digital breast".
  • Isolated score with commentary - As mentioned before, this is a decent score from Goldsmith, who speaks over the score when appropriate, discussing his approach to the film and his previous collaborations with Verhoeven.
  • Featurette 'Anatomy of a Thriller' - A fairly standard promo piece which does touch upon technical issues which are covered more deeply in the following featurettes.
  • One PooloadTM of Featurettes - In a perfect world, these related featurettes would be separate chapters in an hour-long documentary, but Columbia have seen fit to give them their own menu items, meaning you can't just sit back and watch them all at once. When some are as short as a minute or so, it comes across as an attempt to make the disc seem to have more on it than it actually does. The content itself is fine though, with a lot of coverage of the effort the CGI folk went to making certain shots come together, involving separate motion controlled camera passes, effects layers, intense 3D modelling and rotoscoping.
  • Deleted scenes - Three to be exact. One of the most annoying deletions for me was the rape sequence. The cut footage wasn't actually graphic, it depicted the aftermath, with the girl lying crying on the bed. Verhoeven explains that the audience could cope with the actual assault, but were uncomfortable seeing her distress afterwards. Call me stupid, but shouldn't we feel uncomfortable with rape? With that scene cut, the audience experiences the adrenaline surge with no consequences, which implies a tacit approval by the filmmakers.
  • Storyboard comparison - With commentary by Verhoeven, this depicts the scene where a test gorilla is brought back into the visible spectrum.
  • SFX before/after comparisons - Three of the most effect-heavy scenes are shown in a before and after state, showing not only what was captured on the original camera, but also how much work was done on the sound afterwards. The on-set sound is hugely unimpressive.
  • Trailers - A teaser and the full theatrical trailer, both in 5.1 surround.

Oh, and cast and crew bios for those who can't type imdb.com.

  Overall  
Contract

If not for the quality of the story, this disc would have merited a Gold Award, no question. If you watch this film once, you might be thinking, "What's Paul on about? The film wasn't bad, I quite enjoyed it..."

If that's you, watch it again. Watch it a third time. See for yourself what a shallow waste of money and creative energy it is.

Shame on you, Verhoeven, for not having credited your audience with the intelligence to have intuitively grasped your basic point when they were in high school. Shame on you for taking a good premise and doing absolutely nothing of value with it. And shame on the audience who continue to passively accept this drivel.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=453
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      And I quote...
    "Hollow Man? 'Hollow plot' would be more accurate."
    - Paul Dossett
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Rom:
          Pioneer 103(s)
    • MPEG Card:
          RealMagic Hollywood Plus
    • TV:
          Mitsubishi Diva 33
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha DSP-A1
    • Speakers:
          Richter Excalibur
    • Centre Speaker:
          Richter Unicorn
    • Surrounds:
          Richter Hydras
    • Audio Cables:
          Monster RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Monster s-video
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