By Herb Kane | August 26, 2000

THE CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Steve Rhodes (, Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Ron Wells (, John Murray (, Michæl Atkinson (, Andy Jones & Chris Gore (“The New Movie Show with Chris Gore”) Richard Roeper (“Roger Ebert & The Movies”), Steve Rosen ( and Tom Keogh (
* * out of 4 stars (R)
Many sci-fi films, especially those involving time travel and invisibility, fascinate me. So it was only natural for me to be excited about “Hollow Man,” a movie about an invisible man. The movie critics were equally excited about the premise of the film, but did they like it?
“Hollow Man” is about Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon), an arrogant scientist who heads a team of researchers who discover the secret of invisibility by injecting animals with a secret formula. Caine becomes the first human to take the injection, but the other the scientists are unable to bring Sebastian’s visibility back. He becomes deranged and seeks revenge.
In the movie Caine poses this question: “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t be seen?” Steve Rhodes ( responds: “An intriguing question which ‘Hollow Man’ explores in some obvious but thought-provoking ways.”
You mean “Hollow Man” actually “explored” what it is like to be invisible? Hardly. This is what makes “Hollow Man” a huge disappointment. Oh, there were brief moments like when he scared the little kids in a car, but the rest involved deranged scenes involving sexuality and murder. Caine simply “explores” what it is like to be an invisible madman.
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) said, “Does Paul Verhoeven, who directed ‘Hollow Man,’ have such a low opinion of his audience that he thinks all we want is to see (or not see) the invisible man go berserk?” I’ll respond to that question. Regardless of what Verhoeven was thinking, that’s essentially all we got – a berserk jerk whom we cannot see. It’s unfortunate, indeed.
Ron Wells ( said, “The ending, unfortunately, gets a little over the top. For a while before that, though, this movie can definitely not be mistaken for ‘Shallow Man.'”
This movie did start out powerful. The initial scenes build on your curiosity to watch Caine turn invisible. The special effects were literally amazing, watching the way the human body transforms into nothingness. It was the best I’ve seen. But unfortunately, “Hollow Man” goes from smart sci-fi film to stupid slasher flick.
John Murray ( said in his review, “Even though the movie makes such a turn, it’s hard to be too angry, since ultimately the movie never did let us think that it was too much more than a summer popcorn movie.” What kind of excuse is this? The trailer did allude to the “Hollow Man” becoming a killer, but it didn’t reveal this would be the dominant part of the story.
Michæl Atkinson ( said, “Verhoeven an screenwriter Andrew W. Marlowe have taken the tired old chestnut of invisible-man movies and done something hilarious, even insightful with it.” Sorry, Michæl. “Voyeurism and sexual aggression” didn’t save this film. It wasn’t fun enough nor was it even erotic.
Andy Jones (E! Online) said on “The New Movie Show with Chris Gore,” “I don’t understand that if why you are invisible, you have to kill people. I mean, you’re invisible – what’s the point?”
Excellent point! Why couldn’t this film have focused on a positive character using his invisibility for the good (with some playful in-betweens)? Something like a high-tech James Bond could have set up a possible franchise.
Jones continues, “But the real problem is that it becomes this monster movie where all these people are trapped in a contained space and you don’t see the invisible man interact with the outside world.”
Chris Gore (the shows host) fires back – “What’s wrong with a good monster movie?”
I’ll answer! First of all, Chris, this is NOT a good monster movie. Sebastian was already a monster before he became invisible. Second, this story takes place below the earth in a lab for most of the film. The story idea was great, but the actual story sucked!
Richard Roeper (“Roger Ebert & The Movie”) got it right: “They had a very good premise here, but it was ‘predictable and disappointing.'”
Steve Rosen ( summed the movie up best: “‘Hollow Man’ is a blunt, bloody horror movie – a ‘B’ movie – with Grade-A special effects and a Grade-Z story.”
If you still feel hollow inside and want to still see a descent invisible man story – tune into “The Invisible Man,” a weekly show on the Sci-Fi channel. The special effects are cool and more importantly this invisible man interacts among the public – above earth.
I agree with Tom Keogh ( who said, “The real invisible man here is Verhoeven, whose talent can barely be seen in ‘Hollow Man.'”

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  1. flnca says:

    I think the movie Hollow Man could’ve been better had they condensed the entire plot into the first half of the movie (sans Hollow Man dying, of course), and had they made the second half being chase scenes showing how Hollow Man tries to escape from his surviving coworkers and the military. With an open ending perhaps, leaving some space for a sequel or a series.

    But it really looks like the special effects ate up most of the movie budget, leaving Verhoeven to work almost exclusively in the lab setting. Even if they would’ve just cut away the path towards the happy end, and had replaced it with an open ending and a sort-of victorious but insecure Hollow Man, having to find his way to cope with a life as an invisible guy outside the lab in the real world, so to speak, it would’ve made the movie far better.

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