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Review The Invisible Man (2020), The Invisible Man (1933), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992) and Hollow Man (2000).

Two weekends ago The Invisible Man was released digitally due to the coronavirus. Naturally I wanted to watch it as most reviews were good. For good measure I also wanted to watch the original and another adaptation to see how those hold up and compare to this latest version directed by Leigh Whannell. So here goes.

The Invisible Man (2020)

A much better film than Upgrade for sure. However it's one that is immensely flawed. 

Female protagonist Cecilia Kass played by Elisabeth Moss is the main problem. She just isn't likable enough. Even when it is heavily implied we should root for her and do feel sorry for her predicament she never manages to truly convey her desperation. If it weren't for the events and the other cast members this could have been a real disaster. Fortunately some clever and creative spins on the story do make things compelling and thrilling. But I wished they would have gone deeper with the characterization and dynamics between Cecilia and Adrian Griffin. I mean you don't have to be a genius why a woman would want to flee from her own husband, home and dog. It's obvious some kind of abuse is going on. But to what extent? How and why? This is never explored or shown. But we are told this is the case. I honestly hate it when they do this in films. All it would require is a scene or montage and we would be rooting for Moss' character all the way. 

Despite Moss failing to appeal, there were many events action and thrill wise that made this modern The Invisible Man worth it, at least for a one time watch!

The Invisible Man (1933)

According to many film lovers the original is a classic and one that still works. I am sorry to say this is simply not true. 

I wasn't sure what to make of the comedic take at first. But it certainly didn't help making me take things seriously. Sure I get it I was supposed to see the main character's decent into madness. However if you want to take me on this journey you have to show how this character was at first. Especially since the minute we get introduced to him he isn't a particular likable character. Yes I laughed a couple of times. But scared or creeped out? Definitely not. You will hardly find a bad review on the interwebs which is quite odd. Even masterpieces like The Godfather or Goodfellas have bad reviews. And yes I realize this is an old film that for it's time has real good effects. I am not downplaying this fact. I am very aware that at the time this film must have had an impact on people when they watched this for the first time. However now almost everything is dated about the film and not terrifying in the slightest. I am afraid that many people have let themselves get blinded by nostalgia and hype that never delivers. 

No, just no! It's bad. 

Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)

Chevy Chase and John Carpenter team up to deliver a more modern take on The Invisible Man. I remember having watched this on VHS when it was released and truly loving it. Now many years after I can honestly say that perhaps I was a little more impressionable back then.

Not to say that this is a bad film. There are some things I liked. The special effects definitely are impressive back then and even now. But it's the story and narrative that is non existent. It's not real clear what the goal or message is. If you think about it, this is a chase film very similar to The Fugutive where we are rooting for the main character all the way. But in that film the main character is trying to find the real killer of his wife and we already know what he is about since that established. In Memoirs of an Invisible Man Nick Holloway does want to get visible again which makes sense. But we never really get to know what he is about. Or not enough. I thought especially the intrigue angle with the shady C.I.A. men was just thrown in there to give the film  villains. Sam Neil is the head honcho of this super secret operation and he clearly is having fun as the bad guy who has his own little agenda going on. There should have been more cat and mouse play between the C.I.A. and Nick Holloway. Or perhaps more action sequences or comedic bits. I don't know as long as there was more to this film than it ended up being.

Overall if you never watched this before it might be a decent watch. For the second time around this will be disappointing. 

Hollow Man (2000)

Hollow Man is inspired by H. G. Wells' novel The Invisible Man. For the most time it deals with the same themes as in all of the film adaptations. Except in this one the horror elements are amped-up to the max.  The main character Sebastian Caine played by Kevin Bacon is the invisible man who slowly but surely descends into madness. 

I think from all the adaptations this one is the best. Director Paul Verhoeven himself wasn't happy as he thought it was a film that could have been directed by anyone. He didn't really feel like he put his stamp on it. Perhaps there is some truth to it. But a lesser director certainly would have messed up combining science fiction and horror so masterfully. Maybe it wasn't as challenging as Paul Verhoeven hoped. He sure shows he knows his craft. 

Hollow Man is more than a simple horror film. First you are very willing to go on this thrill ride where the impossible becomes possible. Kevin Bacon's character certainly draws you in to go with him on his amazing adventure. Then events spiral out of control. There was one scene in particular that was very jarring and evil. I don't care how much his mind has gone. He demonstrated to be very aware of what he has done. But he doesn't really care. Soon after there is another scene that is quite shocking. At this point there is no doubt this is a horror film or should I say full on monster film. Granted I would have preferred a more subtle and more psychological horror where events weren't so over the top. Then again they are quite effective and entertaining.  

Certainly a must watch if you want to look for the best among the adaptations of H.G. Wells' novel. 

Special note: Somehow Hollow Man has gotten the reputation to be a bad movie. Now having seen it after some time I couldn't disagree more. Sure maybe it is lacking compared to Paul Verhoeven's earlier work. Still it's one that is just as exciting and thrilling the first time I watched it. It definitely is superior to the hyped original which in my opinion is laughably bad. 

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