Hollow Man

Directed by Paul Verhoeven

Another bummer about Hollow Man -- apart from watching Shue play action heroine, burping up lines like "We're gonna take him down!" with a straight face -- is that this technically astounding cart is latched in front of the dead horse of this miserable script. Not only are the transformation scenes shockingly realistic, the team led by effects supervisor Scott E. Anderson renders the outline of the invisible Sebastian in water, steam, foam and thermal vision, as his victims struggle to catch sight of his form. (We're forced to forget that they own spray-paint.) The digital artists also do terrific subtle work, making Shue's panties and Brolin's chest hair disappear.

But why bother? For science and lurid sexuality, we've already got plenty of Cronenberg in the can. And even if you're not in the mood for latter-day Chevy Chase, there are plenty of intriguing invisible-man movies on offer, especially the best one, with James Whale and Claude Rains giving us a classic in 1933. In retrospect -- especially in light of Bill Condon's Gods and Monsters -- it's pretty easy to see that movie for what it was: a metaphor for being a reviled and "unseen" outsider. It also had a character arc, whereas here we have Bacon (who complained recently to the press that he's got a board game but no Oscars -- be a little choosier, dude!) transforming from a cruel, arrogant jerk to a cruel, arrogant, invisible jerk. Perhaps the only way to appreciate Hollow Man is as a stark view of impotent male rage. At least the title fits.

Opens Aug. 4.

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