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Hollow Man (***)
Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Written by Andrew W. Marlowe
Hollow Man
 
Principal Cast
Kevin Bacon -- Sebastian Caine
Elisabeth Shue -- Linda McKay
Kim Dickens -- Sarah Kennedy
Josh Brolin -- Matt Kensington
William Devane -- Dr. Howard Kramer
Steve Altes -- Dad
Greg Grunberg -- Carter Abbey
Mary Jo Randle -- Janice
Joey Slotnick -- Frank
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

None of the film adaptations of H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man have been as good as the novel. Of all the classic science fiction authors, Wells is the most modern and the most fun to read. Wells, like Robert A. Heinlein, always asked the next question. In this case: what does an invisible man do when he's stopped having fun? Wells realized how isolating invisibility would be -- how lonely it would be. It would drive you mad.

It drives Kevin Bacon mad in the new invisible man movie, Hollow Man. And it says something about the movie that we never think of the invisible man as a character, only as Kevin Bacon in an invisibility suit. There are a lot of ideas in this movie from Paul Verhoeven, director of Robocop and Starship Troopers -- most of them visual. The movie shows you every invisibility special effect you can imagine, plus a few more you've never thought of. There is even a purely visual Shakespeare reference, involving a fly.

The writer, Andrew W. Marlowe, also wrote Air Force One (****) and End of Days (**), which shows what difference a great director and a great actor can make.

On the other hand, for all its cleverness, the script avoids some smart moves that might have been interesting, such as taking note of the fact that if light goes completely through you, you can't see anything. Wells' invisible man was invisible except for a spot of visual purple behind each invisible eye. Also, it seems unlikely that the ends of hair and the tips of fingernails would turn invisible for quite some time, but to show that would slow down the action.

The real trouble with the movie is that it is structured as a monster movie, and somehow the Invisible Man was never a very impressive monster. He's not nearly as powerful as Frankenstein, Dracula, or the Wolf Man. So when people start dying, one by one, you want to say, "No, no, no! Don't panic. You can take this guy if you just keep your wits about you."

Still, lots of impressive special effects and, as my son Rob says, in a movie there is no such thing as too many explosions.

Hollow Man may even appear on the Hugo Awards ballot.

Last year there were so many good SF movies that The Phantom Menace didn't make the final cut, which I think is a shame. This year the best we've seen is Mission to Mars, unless you consider X-Men science fiction. And there is nothing coming up between now and December that looks any better. Red Planet? Maybe, but I doubt it. It is not based on the Heinlein novel. Which is just as well. Heinlein doesn't translate well to movies. Too much of his charm is in the way he says things. "I know a place where there is no smog..."

So, go see Hollow Man. You'll enjoy it. For the Hugo, I'll probably vote for an episode of The X-Files.

Copyright © 2000 by Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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