Hollow Man II

Starring: Peter Facinelli, Laura Regan, David McIlwraith and Christian Slater
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: 15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 11 September 2006

Detective Frank Turner is called to the scene of a murder, but when the victim is discovered to be a secret institute research scientist the military immediately muscle-in to take over. Instead, Frank and his partner are assigned to protect a female research scientist from the same institute. An unseen assailant kills his partner, and suddenly Frank finds himself on the run with the scientist, Maggie Dalton. He wants answers but he isn't prepared for the truth. Somewhere out there is an invisible psychotic rogue soldier who will kill anyone to get to Maggie. There are serious side-effects to the invisibility. Griffin, the soldier, is suffering massive cell degradation and he desperately needs the buffer serum, which Maggie has developed, to stay alive...

I very nearly didn't get to review this one at all. After putting the check disc into my player, I found that the data refused to break away from the menus. I was frozen out of "Set Up" and "Play Movie", and was obliged to reinsert the disc several times, eventually succeeding in playing the film through the chapter menus (it refused to function properly on another player too). I hoped this inauspicious start wasn't an omen. Ironically, the moment I finished viewing the production, the menus decided to free-up and work as normal. I hope this is a glitch which has been rectified for the retail release.

I'm not a big fan of the original Hollow Man, because it was a showcase for the (admittedly excellent) special effects, which totally overshadowed the meagre plot and characterisation. Kevin Bacon, whom I admire greatly as an actor (great in A Stir of Echoes, and outstanding in Tremors) was totally wasted.

Similarly here, the talents of Christian Slater are squandered because he appears as himself in only one flashback scene and for the rest of the film he is invisible. The director apparently chose Slater for his distinctive and recognisable voice, but to hire a reasonably big name only to render him unseen for almost the entire running time seems to me an incredible waste of money and resources. Not to mention the viewers; fans of Slater might avoid this release altogether for the reasons I've already described.

Nevertheless, the story is significantly more engaging than its predecessor. The special effects are rightly kept to a minimum. It has connections with the first film, but is careful to work as a stand-alone piece.

This is one of those protection plots; essentially a run-around suspense thriller more than a science fiction or horror, and similar in some ways to the structure of Eraser. If you caught this on TV late at night, there would be enough going on to keep you watching, but I doubt many people would be interested in repeated viewings. Therefore, rental might be the better option.

Special Features include Inside Hollow Man (16 mins), a Visual Effects Comparison, a Storyboard Comparison, Storyboard Gallery, and Trailers.

Ty Power

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