Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review: Hollow Man (2000)

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth Shue, Womens' Bodies

"If I die, pretend I said something deep and clever."

Aren't directors funny creatures? Like Paul Verhoeven, for instance! He directed such critically acclaimed works of film like RoboCop and Total Recall, both very enjoyable and action packed science fiction flicks that provided good, solid entertainment. But he also directed the infamous Showgirls, which I haven't seen, and then this pile of unentertaining slop. Yes, this is Hollow Man, the Kevin Bacon thriller where he turns invisible. My only question is, how do I turn my TV screen invisible so I don't have to watch it again? I think that ought to do it for an intro. Let's dig in.

Our movie begins with a mouse being ripped apart by some invisible beast, bloodily ravaged into pieces…yeah, I’ve seen a ton of awesome movies start off like that! Then we switch to Kevin Bacon, who is having about as much luck with his scientific formulas as he is with being a peeping Tom and watching the hot chick across the street undress through her windows. That is, none at all. Until a miracle of shoddy writing occurs and he suddenly comes up with the solution for his formula. He immediately contacts a co-worker who asks in stunned disbelief, “7 months and you suddenly come up with the code out of the blue? How?”

It’s pretty damned bad when even the characters don’t buy your plot 3 minutes into the movie. I think that’s a clear sign to give up while you’re ahead. Or at least…not a million miles behind, panting like you’ve got a punctured lung.

So then we see Bacon interacting predictably with other unlikeable characters at his vague secret scientist lab thing, creating scenarios that will likely be humorously duplicated and expanded upon when he turns invisible. There’s the guy who he competes with all the time at everything and constantly exchanges dull sarcastic banter with, who is secretly having sex with the cute blonde co worker who he flirts with all the time. There’s a veterinarian who hates what he’s doing and thinks it’s morally wrong. And there are a bunch of security guards and janitors who he talks to for like a second each. God, can’t you just feel the boredom emanating from the screen?

Basically what happens next is that this ape named Isabella who they turned invisible as an experiment goes crazy from being invisible too long, breaks out of her cage and is then tranquilized. Then they bring her back and turn her into a living game of Operation:

So Bacon lies to the Pentagon officials who assigned them this project in the first place and tells them they’re still working on it, just so he can get more glory and fame for himself. His co-workers rightfully express their disdain at this stupidity and Bacon just brushes them off, volunteering himself for the job to turn invisible next – the first time they’ve ever performed the experiment on a person. We then see the only reason this movie was really made, to show Kevin Bacon’s ass and get a bunch of girls to swoon over it. Yay, fanservice! Oh, right, and he turns invisible, too; that’s…that’s kind of important also.

And what does Bacon do with his newfound superhuman abilities? Pretty much nothing except try to take off his female co-workers’ clothes. There's one scene where he sneaks into where the veterinarian lady is sleeping and starts fondling her breasts - this scene more or less sums up the feel of the movie. It's kind of like, "should I even be watching this?", followed by several uncomfortable shufflings around on the couch, averting your eyes a little each time, waiting for the scene to stop. When he talks to the blonde one, Linda, one-on-one it’s actually disturbing as hell – I mean, he actually puts his hand between her legs, for Pete’s sake; that’s sexual harassment! He could get fired for that if she’d just say something! Screw scientific integrity; this is just wrong.

And has anyone noticed we never really see Bacon doing anything that indicates how good of a scientist he is? What, so we’re really supposed to believe that this guy is such an amazing scientist just because everyone says he is? That’s a lot to swallow, movie, especially when you had to pull that first bit where he comes up with the formula out of nowhere right from your collective asses.

Oh yes, Bacon's priorities are definitely in place...

Also, this unresolved sexual tension between Bacon and that blonde chick is seriously hilarious with how clich√© it is. “Oh, you were never there! And now you’re invisible so you’re really not there! Even though you try to rape me several times and do nothing but objectify me, I’m not going to raise any serious objections! You’re just quirky, is all. And I'm going to keep tolerating you because I'm secretly the embodiment of every pre-teen girl who ever wanted Kevin Bacon! Tee-hee!~” And Bacon…good God, his scene on the roof where he tries to get her back and lean in for a kiss is just embarrassing! Where did he learn how to seduce a woman? That horrible Black Dahlia movie from 2006 with Josh Hartnett? Eugh. That’s kind of like asking Jim Carrey how to be subtle.

After that they try to turn him back to normal but it fails for some reason, and he almost dies. Then they give him a mask to make sure they can see him until they can cure him. He looks kind of like a crash test dummy if it were made by Leatherface...or something like that. I don’t know; it’s hard enough to make jokes about a movie this dull without resorting to just saying ‘look how ugly that crap is’ every five minutes, because there’s always something you can say that about in this movie. I guarantee it. Yergh.

That just looks kind of stupid.

And no, seriously guys, isn’t he going to do anything else but sexually assault women? It’s like…sitting here watching a movie about that weirdo who sits in a car outside a Victoria’s Secret and always has his hand where you can’t see it. It’s just painful! Can't someone just lock this movie up for indecent exposure already? It's seriously getting uncomfortable to watch this for more than a few minutes at a time.

Then we get Bacon’s Big Escape, in which the guy guarding the research labs does the maximum amount of hands-on security work possible by doing absolutely nothing to stop Bacon from leaving aside from just…shouting at him. That doesn’t work very well, you moron. We see that Bacon goes back to his apartment only to see the same girl from the opening walking around with her blinds open taking her clothes off – what, does she just leave her blinds open RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER while she’s taking off her clothes all the time? What a tease!

Anyway, Bacon goes over and decides to mess around with her and then rape her. Because…well, yeah, I got nothing. Then he goes back to the lab and kills a dog with his bare hands for no reason, too. Isn’t this movie just SO HAPPY AND CHEERFUL? It’s just peachy!

Alright, let’s just wrap this up. So the two good scientists tell the Pentagon what happened and then Bacon decides to go on a killing spree, because I guess sitting down and talking about his feelings with a psychiatrist was out of the question. In between we get some scenes with the blonde chick scientist and her secret boyfriend making out with the window open – GOD, CAN’T THESE MORONS CLOSE THEIR BLINDS EVEN ONCE? – and then the movie gets off its meds again and decides it’s suddenly a slasher film. So we get to see every scientist somehow getting killed off by Bacon with nobody even noticing for the first few times. It’s not like they’d scream or anything else that would give it away, right?

Bacon locks them in a storage room or something after stabbing the one guy who he was rivals with or whatever…although that guy is later shown to be perfectly fine somehow; I don’t know. The blonde chick sets him on fire – guess nobody taught him to stop, drop and roll – and then he vanishes again, only for the blonde chick to turn on the sprinklers in the building and reveal where he is like they SHOULD have done 20 minutes ago! Then some stuff blows up and causes the building to start collapsing, I guess.

After Bacon comes back AGAIN and visible this time – how? It’s never revealed – he kisses the blonde chick again but then she makes him fall down into oblivion with the elevator shaft that was falling from the ceiling. I guess THAT finally killed him, in case being set on fire three times in a row didn’t.

Oh, and you know that one scene in every movie like this where the cops usher out the two survivors with a blanket out through all the smoke and rubble? Yeah. That’s what they end on in this movie. No resolution, no denouement; just that same cheap-ass scene that we see in every dime a dozen movie ever made with the credits over it in some cheap font. It’s like they just said, “OK, we’re done with the two hour festival of misogyny, rape, animal torture and all around debauchery. We’re just going to end on something generic and lame! We hope you enjoyed this mess of brutality and unholiness. Please come back next time as we remake Salo: 120 Days of Sodom!”

OK, a bit of an exaggeration? Yes. But still. This is horrible! It’s like a manic-depressive schizophrenic was assigned to write the script; it’s just so unpleasant and so relentlessly ugly that it’s unbelievable. How am I supposed to be entertained by this? It’s like they wanted to cram in every goddamn morally objectionable thing they could. It’s stupid, it’s weird and it’s awkward as hell. I mean, I guess there are a few parts that are pretty entertaining, most to do with Bacon before he goes crazy, but that's far from the majority of the film. This movie sucks, and I can't see why any sentient soul would ever like it. God, and I still have the sequel to review too, don't I? Damn...well, let's get it over with, then.