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Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Retro Review: Hollow Man 2 (2006)

Hollow Man 2
Cast: Christian Slater, Peter Facinelli, Laura Regan
Genre: Science Fiction Horror 

Plot: A Seattle detective pursues a vengeful mercenary who uses invisibility to kill

'The Sequel Nobody Had Asked For'

The original Hollow Man had its flaws no doubt about that, and whilst it wasn't truly spectacular, for me personally it was still watchable, enthralling in places with Spectre, shocks and thrills one could shake a stick at. Released 6 years after the original movie, Hollow Man 2 arrived but in direct-to-DVD form, thanks to the prequel's modest box office takings and that's all despite the critical bashing it received .... and this is, by comparison, a standalone mundane follow-up that lacks the bite and excitement of the prequel. 

It was an unnecessary sequel nobody had asked for, and yet we still got it, regardless. 

The opening scene takes place with the invisible killer starting to kill some random guy in the bathroom and his dead body is eventually discovered by another person.

Paul Verhoeven, who directed the prequel, is the executive producer of this direct- to- DVD sequel and as a B-movie sequel, it definitely lives up to that billing. Starring former Hollywood A-lister, Christian Slater, he plays Michael Griffith: a special forces soldier who volunteers for an invisibility programme used to create the perfect soldier. Fast forward a couple of years later, Griffith is on the loose and determined to find scientist Maggie, who is one of the researchers for the project so he can get hold of the drugs that will keep him alive. The rest of the main cast stars Peter Facinelli and Laura Regan. 

So what's so different from the first film? Well the killer, the action and suspense isn't just confined inside - which was a good thing and so we could see how his actions would have that negative effect on the wider society's victims he chooses to prey on, and the movie plays out like The Terminator with the 2 characters trying to get away from the invisible killer.

As for the protagonist characters, though they lack personality I sort of emphasised with them, more so than the ones in the first Hollow Man film. They come across as people who had good intentions - unlike Matt and Linda of the previous movie. The script though is banal and as bad as the prequel -, no make that more banal than the prequel, with characters that are so incredibly cardboard-like. We don't see any real development with them and with Michael being invisible, the way he goes about killing people, it looks ridiculous. There is nothing really to set it apart from Hollow Man #1, besides the change in setting. Word on the street has it that Hollow Man 2's script was supposed to be the original script for the first Hollow Man movie, and is, therefore, the first draft of that film - that is until it was scrapped and Verhoeven opted for the lab setting. And so, in watching this movie, this could've been the first Hollow Man film. If so, and had it turned out to be that way, would that have made a difference how it would have been viewed and received by the audience? Probably.

It appears as I was watching this film, the cop and the scientist are aware of soldier, Michael Griffin being invisible. And that in itself, takes away some of the suspense, thrills from it. Christian Slater lacks the menace and believability as the antagonist compared to Kevin Bacon. He just never convinced me as a baddie and none of the things he did was that threatening or evil enough. 

Yet Hollow Man 2's biggest problem that it had was the film never really made good use of its invisible man baddie, and nor did the writers and director find a way to make it work. & that's despite the setting that goes beyond the confines of the lab. He appears like 3 times throughout the film, and his presence in each of them was lacklustre. It felt like a standard generic cop thriller with low budget values and with that, it is utterly devoid of any cool, pulsating action scenes and real shocks that would have had me clinging on the edge of my seat. The movie operates more as a cop film with an invisible man backdrop attached to it. The first film was at times shockingly violent, yet it had an edge to it - this film is not (that) violent and lacks the shocks and twists of Hollow Man. Not to mention the gory effects. The effects here lack the ''wow'' factor, given that they recycled the special effects of the first film, it tells me that as it was a straight-to-DVD film, they didn't really make an effort, nor cared enough for it. There are some direct to DVD films that make the most out of their budgets and still, they come off looking and feeling rather good. But Hollow Man 2 is not one of them and is even hollower. 

Still, the chase scene kind of lends some tension and as this was sort of absent from Hollow Man, it was a nice thing to have here.

There is a fight between cop, Turner who injects the invisibility serum into himself to become invisible and takes on Michael in the final showdown, but it is anti-climatic and nowhere as riveting and enthralling as the one between Kevin Bacon's Sebastian and Elizabeth Shue's Linda in the first Hollow Man.

Though I guess being a direct-to-DVD effort, it achieves what it sets out to do. Just

Final Verdict:

Hollow Man 2 is really hollow as a follow-up and does a disservice to the franchise and the original movie from 2000. Almost every single thing about it is 5 steps backwards from the first Hollow Man, not forgetting it is a total bore.

And say what you like about that movie, but in the version by Paul Verhoeven and with Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Shue, Hollow Man had all the chills and thrills, twists and turns that were maintained throughout. As sick and twisted as they were, courtesy of Verhoven's warped sense of reality, or be it imagination. Undoubtedly. The only thing I would switch is that likeability aspect of the protagonist characters of the sequel; likewise, I'd wished Linda and Matt were more likeable in Hollow Man.

Alas, Hollow Man 2 is a stripped down version of Hollow Man that is more forgettable and has a Z-list cast in place of its so-called A/B- listers in Bacon and Shue. Christian Slater was unconvincing as the antagonist and cannot play the evil guy well. Well, not in this movie, anyway.

Riding on the coattails of its predecessor and even with slightly better special effects, this sequel, despite 1 or 2 enhancements, is still lacklustre that it eventually runs itself to the ground through sheer boredom. 


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