Hollow Man 2 review by Mike LongThe rules for sequels used to be pretty simple -- if a movie did well at the box-office, there was a good chance that a second chapter would come along at some point. Along the way, there were some upstart cult sequels which followed movies that didn't make a lot of money, but for the most part, economics was the main factor. Then, the home-video revolution occurred and the rules changed. Suddenly, movies that only made a small profit, or no discernible profit at all, were spawning sequels which went directly to video. With the popularity of DVDs, this trend has only grown. A recent example to this trend is Hollow Man 2, a sequel to the 2000 Kevin Bacon film Hollow Man.
Hollow Man 2 takes place some time after the original film. Michael Griffin (Christian Slater), an American soldier, is administered an experimental drug which will render him invisible. (The drug is based on the research seen in the first film.) Griffin is assured that he will be given a "buffer" which will allow him to become visible again. But, he's lied to and no such buffer is given. Enraged, Griffin is now searching for the scientists involved in the procedure hoping that one can supply the buffer. After Dr. Villiers (John Shaw) is murdered, the authorities assume that Dr. Maggie Dalton (Laura Regan) will be Griffin's next target. Police detective Frank Turner (Peter Facinelli) is assigned to protect Maggie. When an attempt on her life is made and a police officer is killed, Turner begins to realize that Maggie is in serious danger and he proceeds to hide her. But, how can one hide from an assailant that one can't see?
(I really feel that I gave too much away with that plot synopsis, but it's nothing compared to the back of the DVD box, which reveals that only real twist in the movie!)
I'm sure that when overseas tickets and home-video sales were tallied, the original Hollow Man made its money back, but it was no huge hit. Nor was it a critical success. So, why the sequel? I don't know. The only prominent link between this film and the original is that Hollow Man Paul Verhoeven serves as executive producer here. Is the movie unnecessary? Of course it is. So, let's just ignore that fact and surge ahead.
For a direct-to-DVD sequel, Hollow Man 2 isn't all that bad. It does exactly what we expect it to do (and what we ask of it) and performs the job in a fairly competent manner. The story, which casts Griffin as an invisible spy, is far from original (1942's Invisible Agent had already introduced that idea), but it is a logical extension of the first film. Due to budgetary constraints, there aren't as many "invisible" special effects scenes as in the original movie, but the requisite moments are here and the finale is nicely done. While the first film was shockingly violent at times, this film takes a somewhat darker approach to the material, and there is one very creepy shot that actually made me jump. The cast is fairly good, with Facinelli doing his darndest to be earnest, but Regan comes across as way too stiff.
The problem with Hollow Man 2 is that it never attempts to be anything other than what it is. (Again, this is most likely due to the low budget.) The movie tells a very straight-forward story in a very simple way and in 91 minutes, it's out of your life. There is one major plot twist in the film, which I must admit, I didn't see coming. I guess it's a good thing that I never read DVD boxes before I watch the movie. There is a less shocking twist at the beginning of the film, but otherwise the story moves in a linear fashion. Things get a bit redundant in the second act, as Turner shoots at every sound thinking that it's Griffin. Christian Slater fans (are they still around?) will surely be disappointed by this movie, as the actor only appears in the movie for a scant few minutes. Otherwise, we only hear his voice.
In the realm of unexpected sequels (I'm sure that many of you are saying, "There's a Hollow Man 2?") Hollow Man 2 isn't a bad movie. It's entertaining enough and features some nice action scenes. Alas, it is still just a low-budget sequel and thus it's only good for a rental. Otherwise, it should remain "unseen"...
Hollow Man 2 (although the on-screen title is Hollow Man II) appears on DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks pretty good, as the image is sharp and clear for the most part. The nighttime scenes look great as the image has a lot of depth. However, some of the brighter scenes show some slight grain and just detectable video noise. The colors look good and the action is always visible. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. No matter the source of the film, Sony DVDs really disappoint in the audio department and Hollow Man 2 is no exception. The stereo effects are good, as are the surround effects. This really adds to the notion that the invisible man could be anywhere. The subwoofer effects are good as well, but lack a certain amount of "oomph!".
The Hollow Man 2 DVD features a smattering of extras. "Inside Hollow Man II" (17 minutes) is a making-of featurette which looks at Christian Slater's involvement in the film, the director, and the cast. The bulk of the segment is devoted to the special effects and visual effects in the film and how the filmmakers got around the movie's low budget. "Visual FX Comparison" (7 minutes) looks at four different scenes, examining the three levels of FX which go into making a final shot. Director Claudio Fah narrates "Storyboard Comparison" (5 minutes) and explains the storyboarding process. The final extra is a "Storyboard Gallery".
5 out of 10 Jackasses