Hollow Man Director's Cut (Arrow Recommends)

Hollow Man Director's Cut (Arrow Recommends)
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"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT:  A group of scientists figure out how to turn one of their own (Kevin Bacon) into an invisible man. The idea loses its luster fast when once unseen he eventually goes on a stalk, rape, kill spree. He's the Magic Man! Now you see him... now you don't!

“It's amazing what you can do when you don't have to look at yourself in the mirror anymore. " - Sebastian

LOWDOWN: PAUL VERHOEVEN’s HOLLOW MAN (2000) was the film that I had him say F Hollywood and head to Europe to go back to making more personal movies. Word on the street is that the Studio was all up his bleep on that one and got in the way of his vision. Here’s a King Verhoeven quote on the matter: 

“After I did “Hollow Man,” I felt like I was doing the bidding of the studio. I couldn’t even put a personal touch to it. I fell into that trap. It worked OK. But I felt that I had done something that lacked a personal touch, a signature. I felt that I did “Hollow Man” without making it personal. The studio wanted it this way. The freedom was gone.”

Now, I thought the film was “okay” when I saw it upon its initial release and I hadn’t tapped it since. But over the Holidays I decided to give it another shot and watch the DIRECTOR'S CUT (GET IT HERE) of the picture. I didn’t even know there was one up until a week ago, so that was a nice surprise. And I gotta say it; just like a good bottle wine, HOLLOW MAN has become much better with age.  

This bad boy was well paced, visually sleek/creative (even when uninspired, Verhoeven’s eye is superior to the norm), gory as f*ck (even more so in this D.Cut) and all wrapped in an evocative score by genius Jerry Goldsmith. Moreover the picture was a visual effects tour de force. The “from visible to invisible and vice versa” effects created by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Tippett Studio blew my tube-socks off even today (17 years later) in terms of concepts, ingenuity and bang-on execution. Word has it that about $50 million out the film's $95 million budget was allocated to the visual effects department and it showed. DAMN!

On this long overdue second watch, I found myself to be engaged the whole way through way more than I was the first time, I was wowed by the stellar production designs and I relished the visceral and often inventive (staging/choice of shots) action & kill sequences. Aside from giving us more red grub for our bucks, this D.Cut also spat out further character development and extensions on some scenes (I think I picked up on some alternate takes too). It didn't change the flick much for me, but did add a pinch of meat to them bones. On that, it’s really in terms of the addition of the full Rhona Mitra scene that I felt a major difference. Allow me to expand. For those who haven’t seen the film - skip the next 2 paragraph. Yeah, I'll toss some SPOILERS warnings to guide ya out of there. Scroll down!


You see in the theatrical cut, Sebastian's (Kevin Bacon) attack on his neighbor (Rhona Mitra) was cut real short. Sebastian toyed with her – then lunged on his victim – pushed her towards the bed - BAM -close up on the girl’s face screaming – done. It always felt wrong to me. Now Verhoeven’s rational in terms of cutting the scene short (as per an interview I watched) was that the audience was still identifying with Bacon at that point in the film. He became evil 10-15 minutes too early with that scene, so he thought that by cutting it short, it would help us still “like” the Bacon character afterwards. That didn't work on me - at all. The moment he got in that girl’s apartment and lunged on her – I hated him. So although I do agree that the Bacon character went sour way too quick in the film (should have pushed that scene down in the edit maybe) – cutting the bit didn’t solve that problem.

For me, it just created a new one. It made light of the crime and dehumanized the victim. In the D.Cut the further hints (via a couple of extra shots) at the atrocity of the attack hit home and seeing the victim crying afterwards, curled up on her bed, acted as a gut punch. I so felt for her. It was heartbreaking. How they tried to lessen the gravity of the situation in the OG cut so that we'll "maybe" retain sympathy for the anti-hero came off as a cop-out and was poor judgement IMO. Thankfully the D.Cut rectifies that. I know, who the f*ck am I to argue with a genius like Verhoeven? A lover of cinema with an opinion that's all. Agree with me, don't, all good. But it's how I feel. 


Casting wise; a lot of peeps had trouble believing Elisabeth Shue as a scientist - and I’m not sure why. Shue came off as an intelligent gal and last I checked being good looking doesn't mean being dense. The lass had a lot to do in this movie (she basically carried it once Bacon became invisible) and I thought she did an excellent job at it.  On his end, Kevin Bacon was at his Bacon-esque as the arrogant prick that becomes an arrogant rapist/killer once invisible. He got the job done! The stoic Josh Brolin, spunky Kim Dickens and the very funny Greg Grunberg rounded up the cast nicely. To be fair there wasn’t much to their roles other than a base and them having them to react to messed up shit going down – but they were convincing and likeable enough to rise above their meh written roles on paper and make me care about their fates.

The problems that I had with this cut were pretty much the same that I with the theatrical version. We had some random bad dialogue and Kevin Bacon’s character’s journey from cocky prick to full-blown perv/rapist and then murderer happened way too damn fast. Yeah they tried to explain it with pseudo science/shrink lines dropped here and there but I wasn’t convinced. His character arc simply didn’t play well.  It also would have been swell to see Bacon's role toy with the fact that he’s invisible beyond being a perv. I mean rob a bank or something! Take a Lambo on a joyride! I don’t know… do something outside of unbutton chicks blouses. But that’s just me. 

On that, the “slasher-like” last act that used to bother me, went down much smoother this time around. Yes it was formulaic and followed the subgenre beats to a T (right down to our baddie being near invincible for some reason - vfire won't kill this bitch)  but on this run, I was on the edge of my seat having a F-ing blast with the unapologetic carnage! So there you have it. HOLLOW MAN’s weaknesses were definitely at the script stage for me – but the stellar cast, the ASTOUNDING visual effects, the excessive action/gore, Verhoeven's hypnotizing visual style and the easy pace made it a groovy watch none the less. I managed to switch off this time around and just ENJOY. If you've never seen the picture - tap the D.Cut. If you have seen it, give it another try - yes, the D. Cut. You may dig more like did! Party on!

Extra Tidbit: arrow in the head, aith, arrow recommends, the arrow recommends, hollow man, kevin bacon, josh brolin, elizabeth shue, horror, invisible man, thriller, action, paul verhoeven, gore, visual effects



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