At first, I thought Hollow Man was going to be your typical, bloated-budget, mindless sci-fi flick, with a plot so stupid it’s insulting and characters who exist only to drape elaborate special effects upon. These are the type of flicks whose only merits are how many times the FX computer programmers hit ENTER (“Godzilla’s not big enough, Bob. Hit ENTER a few more times and make him REALLY big!”). But Hollow Man truly sets a new standard for this dung-sniffing genre, through it’s rampant use of cliche, tired effects, glazed-over acting, fabricated situations, and direction so heavy-handed that Paul Verhoeven’s knuckles must be dragging on the floor.
Kevin Bacon “stars” as the “mad scientist” driven over the edge by infatuation with his own power, who turns himself invisible then gropes lots of tits and kills people. A few notes on Kevin Bacon:
1) He has always irked the living hell out of me because he is the quintessential Mediocre Actor. He is not a Bad Actor, the way Jean-Claude Van Damme is. Bad Acting is funny to watch and therefore can be worthwhile. And Kevin certainly isn’t a Good Actor, that is, one with inspiration, charisma, and intensity. He is simply a Mediocre Actor, extraordinary only for his ordinariness, special only is his complete blandness.
2) It is hard to take anyone seriously whose name is Mr. Bacon (sorry Roger and Frank, but it just sounds silly). And lastly,
3) Kevin has a pig nose.
Anyway, Kevin and his lab mates “go against orders” and make Kev invisible, but sadly they find they haven’t perfected the magic serum to make him visible again. Here is annoying point number one: the movie begins with invisibility being as regular to these guys as the late John Denver’s bowels. The whole conflict is based around making things visible again. Who gives a flying monkey nut?! You can make stuff invisible, for chrissake!! Tell us how you make stuff invisible. Explain a little of the science, even if it is just mumbo-jumbo, instead of just injecting the magic serum. Come up with some clever stuff about seeing food digest, or if your shit is invisible after it leaves your body. Ah well, no such luck. All we get are the computer FX of bodies materializing or dematerializing. (Which is presented with a severe logic flaw, by the way. When the serum to return something to visibility is injected, we see it magically float through the blood stream, slowly and quite literally fleshing out the person from the inside out. However, when making someone invisible, they begin to disappear from the outside in, though that serum too is injected into the blood stream. The outer layer, the skin, should be the last to go. But then we wouldn’t get all the hokey effects of seeing Kev reduced to muscles then organs then bones to nothing).
Annoying point number two: All the cool things that you could explore in a film about a guy being invisible are completely ignored in favor of adolescent sex fantasies depicted in the most Porky’s-esque manner (complete with blouses mysteriously popping open, etc) . OF COURSE if you’re an invisible guy you’re going to watch chicks undress and feel them up while they scan wild-eyed around themselves for the unseen force that just grabbed their ass. Granted, these scenes are enjoyable because you get to see some very nice breasts, but is this all they could come up with? Yeah, give us the tits, but throw a curveball in there, like maybe a floating condom being unrolled in the background while the chick’s unwittingly getting naked. And beyond all that, what about all the other aspects of life that you could make humorous or disturbing insights into by introducing an invisible man to them? That is to say, how about a PLOT beyond the fact that a guy is invisible?
I shan’t go into the whole litany of visual and genre cliches that this flick revels in… the “futuristic” lab design, the madman popping back up (surprise) after he had been “killed,” the methodical elimination of the stereotyped second-tier characters in according order after they’ve all been trapped in the building, etc. etc… because it would just depress us both far too much. But one final note to Elisabeth Shue, who was looking a bit saggy and soft: they don’t hire you ‘cuz you’re Meryl Streep, babe. Better keep that tummy flat and those tits perky or, Ivy League degree or not, you’re gonna get downgraded to Lead’s Best Friend.