REVIEW: HOLLOW MAN 1 & 2

CAST
Kevin Bacon (X-Men: First Class)
Elisabeth Shue (House At The End of The Street)
Josh Brolin (Planet Terror)
Kim Dickens (Lost)
Greg Grunberg (Heroes)
Joey Slotnick (Nip/Tuck)
Mary Randle (Phoen Booth)
William Devane (Stargate SG.1)
Rhona Mitra (Doomsday)
A brilliant Scientist Dr. Sebastian Caine (Bacon) has developed a serum that can make a subject invisible. His team of scientists, which includes ex-girlfriend Dr. Linda McKay (Shue) and Dr. Matt Kensington (Brolin), Veterinarian Sarah Kennedy (Dickens), lab tech Carter Abbey (Greg Grunberg), nurse tech Janice Walton (Mary Randle) and lab tech monitor Frank Chase (Joey Slotnick) eventually enable the serum to work on a female gorilla and restore the animal back to visibility. Sebastian once again becomes obsessed with Linda while unbeknownst to him, she has become involved with Matt. Instead of reporting his success to the military at the pentagon, Sebastian lies to the oversight committee, which includes his mentor Dr. Howard Kramer (Devane), convincing his team to go right into phase lll (human testing). The procedure is performed on Sebastian. It is successful and Sebastian turns completely invisible. He then enjoys sneaking around the lab in order to scare and play harmless pranks on his fellow co-workers. They become worried that he is taking it too far. After three days of being invisible, however, he is unable to revert to visibility.
Sebastian is quarantined in the laboratory due to his condition and the other researchers construct a latex mask for him to wear around the lab. Unable to cope with the isolation, he defies instructions and heads to his apartment to bring some things back to the lab. There, he happens to notice his neighbor disrobing and goes to her apartment where he rapes her, realizing no one will ever know. Linda warns him that if he leaves again, she and Matt will tell the committee about the experiment. Ignoring their threat, Sebastian assembles a device that runs a video loop of his heat signature in his quarters. He leaves the lab again and spies on Linda and Matt, becoming enraged when he sees them having sex. The team soon discover that they have been watching a recording and that Sebastian has been escaping without their knowledge, Sarah knows Sebastian has killed a dog and that he’s becoming a serial killer. Linda and Matt go to Dr. Kramer’s house and confess their experiments. After they leave, Kramer attempts to warn the military but Sebastian, who has followed Linda and Matt to the house, cuts off Kramer’s phone connection before drowning him in his swimming pool. The next day, Sebastian waits until all of the team is in the lab and then disables the phones and the elevator codes except for his code. He removes his clothing and latex mask and invisible, begins his killing spree, with Janice being his first victim by strangulation with an IV cord.
Linda and the others hide in the lab, while Matt and Carter take tranquilizer guns to hunt for Sebastian, using thermal imaging goggles. While on top of a pipe, Sebastian throws Carter toward a steel bar, which hits his carotid artery, and leaves him mortally wounded. Matt tries to shoot Sebastian, but is almost killed until Linda drags him to safety. After Carter dies from his injuries, Sarah heads to the freezer to get blood for a transfusion but is killed by Sebastian after being shot in the heart with the tranquillized dart and having her head snapped. He then kills Frank with a crowbar when he lets his guard down, then stabs Matt in the stomach with the crowbar and locks an injured Matt and Linda in the freezer-store room, leaving them to freeze to death. Sebastian then puts on his clothes and latex mask and completes it with a wig, hat, and sunglasses to look as near human as can be. Linda then constructs an electromagnet using a defibrillator and other equipment, to open the freezer door. She then gathers parts to assemble a flamethrower. Sebastian goes to the lab and creates nitroglycerin and puts it in a centrifuge with a timer which is meant to destroy the facility after he leaves; he smashes the keyboard so nobody can stop the machine.
Just as he enters the elevator to leave, Linda appears and fires the flamethrower at him. Sebastian barely manages to escape the flames and the two fight. Just as she is about to lose, Matt appears and hits Sebastian on the head with the crowbar. Sebastian recovers and approaches Matt and Linda from behind with the crowbar but Matt deflects the blow, throwing Sebastian into a nearby circuit box causing the crowbar to hit the circuit box, apparently electrocuting him and rendering him partially visible. Linda and Matt find the nitroglycerin about to explode and decide to climb up the elevator shaft to escape, suddenly the nitroglycerin blows away the whole lab. The two are almost out, when an injured and partially visible Sebastian appears, his skeletal, organs and muscles are visible but his skin and hair is gone. He fights with Linda, and forcibly kisses her one last time, before she grabs the elevator cable and knocks the car loose, sending Sebastian falling to his death in a big explosion in the shaft below. Linda and Matt emerge from the burning laboratory and medics take them away in an ambulance.
Whilst the story doesn’t ring any new twists on an old idea, the CG special effects by Scott E. Anderson are eye-poppingly brilliant as we see veins and arteries, cardiovascular systems, muscles, tissue, bones and flesh all literally appear out of nowhere. In particular, a sequence where the team bring a gorilla back from the invisible state and the scene where Bacon drowns Devane in a swimming pool, are absolutely breathtaking in the detail and artistic invention of the effects. The film also has a great soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith and classic horror-movie photography by Jost Vacano. The young cast are pretty much overshadowed by the movie’s technical pedigree, but both Shue and Dickens are impressively out of their depth. This is a great fun movie.
CAST
Christian Slater (Mindhunters)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl TV)
Laura Regan (Minority Report TV)
David McIlwraith (Cruel Intentions 2)
William MacDonald (Slither_)
Sarah Deakins (Andromeda)
Jesica Harmon (Izombie)
Sonya Salomaa (Stargate SG.1)
Colin Lawrence (Watchmen)
 At a cocktail party at the Reisner Institute, a Washington think tank, an invisible force drags a scientist named Dylan into a nearby bathroom, where the force (implied to be a person) brutally throws Dylan around for information. Dylan mentions another scientist, Maggie Dalton, who knows the “formula” the invisible person is looking for. Apparently accepting this, the invisible person releases him, warning him not to tell anyone he was there. As soon as the invisible man leaves (or rather, pretends to leave), Dylan attempts to call someone on his cell phone, but the invisible man smashes the phone and slashes Dylan’s throat. The police arrive at the laboratory to conduct a murder investigation, but the laboratory’s military supervisor, Colonel Gavin Bishop, insists it is an internal military situation and the police have no jurisdiction. Fearing attacks on the remaining scientists, the lab’s owner, Dr. William Reisner, employs Frank Turner and his partner, Detective Lisa Martinez, to protect Maggie, but refuses to divulge any information on the nature of his work.
The two detectives stand guard outside Maggie’s house. When Lisa opens the door to let the cat in, the invisible man sneaks past her into the house. Just as he reaches the study where Maggie is, Lisa tracks him down, and he throttles her with a lamp’s power cord. Suddenly, armed military commandos appear and storm the house, using thermal cameras to target and corner the invisible man. Outside, Turner confronts Bishop, realizing that they used him and Lisa to lure the invisible man to the house. Several stun grenades go off around the house, blinding the commandos and allowing the invisible man to escape in pursuit of Turner and Maggie. He almost catches up to them, but is struck and badly injured by a car, and flees. Maggie is taken into protective custody by the police, where Turner’s superior and friend, Captain Tom Harrison, has received orders to have her transferred to military custody. Frank helps Maggie escape from the police station and they flee in a stolen car. Bishop and Reisner, knowing their careers would end if Maggie talks, declare them fugitives.
Maggie later tells Turner that five years before, a team of scientists figured out how to make humans invisible, but something went wrong, leaving only two survivors. A year after the original project was scrapped, the Reisner Institute restarted the experiments as a covertly Department of Defense-funded operation to create the invisible soldier, codenamed “Silent Knight”. The resulting serum does turn human tissue invisible, but with adverse effects: as it allows light to pass directly through the subject, the radiation damages the cells and causes physical and mental degradation, slowly killing the person. Maggie developed a compound called the “Buffer” to counteract the effects of that particular radiation. A soldier named Michael Griffin volunteered, and the serum succeeded, but the Buffer failed and Griffin seemingly died, which in turn got Maggie fired. Maggie believes that Griffin faked his death so he could use his powers without restraint, but now needs the antidote to the radiation before he dies.
Maggie receives a message from a man named Ludlow, who has been in contact with her for weeks. Turner uses his contacts to find Ludlow, a soldier enlisted into the program after Sebastian Caine (the original guinea pig), but before Griffin. He had gone into hiding, but is now slowly dying from radiation. Ludlow has also been tracking Griffin, and reveals the true story to his supposed “death” and the program itself: Operation Silent Knight was never about national security, and Griffin was never given the Buffer, as they[who?] used him to assassinate their political enemies. Meanwhile, Griffin takes Bishop hostage, who attempts to reason with him and then, getting desperate, stabs him with a pen. Griffin kills Bishop, and uses his computer to locate Ludlow. Arriving at the hideout, Griffin attacks Turner, but Ludlow sacrifices himself to allow Turner and Maggie to escape. Griffin decides to make them return by kidnapping Maggie’s sister. When they meet at the train station where he is hiding, Griffin silently captures Maggie and tries to turn her invisible so he can take her unnoticed, but Turner intervenes. After a short fight, Griffin escapes with Maggie, and Turner is left with the arriving Reisner and his guards. A short time later, Reisner pursues an invisible man, but is soon captured and held by him. Thinking that this man is Griffin, he offers to send for the Buffer. The figure, however, is Turner, who used Griffin’s discarded syringe to become invisible as well. Reisner, backing away, is hit and killed by a speeding car.
Griffin takes Maggie to her old college laboratory to create the Buffer for him. Griffin forces her to inject herself with it first, than injects himself with another dose. With his survival seemingly assured, Griffin tries to kill Maggie, but Turner intervenes and knocks him out of the laboratory window. Turner runs outside, where Griffin knocks him unconscious. As Griffin slowly turns visible, Maggie reveals that he has been poisoned, as the Buffer is based on rat poison; she deliberately left the doses she made from the poison just toxic enough to kill them both, and loses consciousness. Enraged, Griffin takes a shovel and attempts to kill her, but Turner, having regained consciousness, stops him and kills him with the shovel. He then carries Maggie away for medical attention, leaving Griffin’s body outside in the rain. A few days later, Maggie is recovering in hospital and is poised to be released. Heather tells her that Turner has not been found. Maggie insists that he will come back to her, as she knows he needs her. Outside, they are being watched by a hooded invisible man, presumably Turner, who then walks away.
The original Hollow Man starring Kevin Bacon was reasonably enjoyable without being a great film. The sequel (as is often the case) is an inferior version of the original. One of the main problems for me was that the Hollow Man (Christian Slater) is only visible for about 5 minutes of the entire film. It’s almost an hour in before you actually see how he became invisible and by that time I was already a bit bored, partly due to the lack of any recognisable actors. HM2 has obviously been rushed together with a very limited budget. In that respect the director has done reasonably well in making it all look pretty good, and it does entertain in places.
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