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The idea of an "invisible man" is fascinating, and storytellers since H.G. Wells have kept returning to it; the advent of powerful computer-generated special effects makes it possible for a movie like Hollow Man to really have the invisible man be a powerful presence on film.

Hollow Man: Special Edition
Hollow Man is nothing complicated; at best, it's reasonably entertaining. Interestingly, though it doesn't credit Wells' novel, it follows the theme of The Invisible Man quite closely, even though the actual storyline is different, and updated to the present day. What would a person do if he or she could see without being seen... act without being held responsible...? This kind of power corrupts, and (as in the original novel), it leads to an ultimately deadly alienation from humanity.  

Kevin Bacon turns in a solid performance as Dr. Sebastian Caine. Even though he's invisible for much of the movie, he's still strongly "present" in his scenes. In an unfortunate casting choice, Elisabeth Shue tries earnestly and unsucccessfully to be believable as a research scientist.

It's best not to scrutinize the plot too closely, because it's full of events that clearly happen just to keep the story moving along, even when the reasonable choice would be for the characters to do something different and more sensible. There are other plot weaknesses, such as to the ethical and practical implications of using a gorilla to do research on... An endangered species, extremely strong and difficult to handle, and not even as closely related to humans as chimpanzees? Well, it's clear that Hollow Man has a gorilla because the gorilla is more visually impressive. And that brings up the central strength of the movie: the visual effects.

The special effects are what make the movie. They're fantastic, from the cloth draped over an invisible being, to the effects of going visible or invisible from the outside in, to the "hollow man" mask itself... and many, many more. The movie is about showing off cutting-edge visual effects, and they are, indeed, spectacular.

Hollow Man: Special Edition
The image quality is superb: crystal clear, sharp, and showing off the special effects in an impressive manner. The transfer is anamorphic with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It's the kind of DVD that you?d choose to show off the picture quality that DVD is capable of.

The sound is Dolby 5.1, and while it doesn?t stand out quite so much as the image quality, it?s very good.

The extras on this disc promise more than they actually deliver. The list of special features is quite long, but many are of interest mostly to the hard-core film nut. The making-of documentary is a short, generic promotional piece, which mostly summarizes the movie that you have, presumably, already seen. The seemingly most promising extras are the fifteen behind-the-scenes featurettes. The topics of these featurettes are fascinating, dealing with the special visual effects that are the heart of the film. However, they suffer from a very bad design choice. The so-called featurettes range from a "high" of about six minutes, to a low of around one minute - sometimes only a couple of sentences about the topic. They're nothing more than snippets, fragments of interviews, and they don't give enough time to go into any real detail. To add insult to injury, each of these mini-featurettes must be accessed separately from the menu; they can't be played one after another. Watching all 15 of them becomes an exercise in frustration. "Animated menus" are listed as an extra feature, but are really an extra annoyance. The menu has the choices swiveling around a helix; very thematically appropriate, but it means that most of the time, the choices aren't legible, making it tiresome to make selections.

Hollow Man: Special Edition
The deleted scenes with commentary are one of the better special features, as director Paul Verhoeven provides interesting insights into why these scenes were filmed and why they were not included in the final cut. Other special features include commentary with Verhoeven, Kevin Bacon, and Andrew W. Marlowe; an isolated music score with commentary by Jerry Goldsmith; trailers; production notes; picture-in-picture comparisons for some visual effects; and cast biographies.

This is a good rental choice if you haven't already seen the movie; it's probably not a good idea to buy it without having seen it first. If you do like the movie, you'll be very happy with the DVD quality and want to own it.