Oh man.....where do I begin with this? A direct-to-video feature (or was it ever in theaters?) as Sony continues to keep churning out, I had to give this a rental spin tonight as me and the little lady purchased the first picture in Superbit (see my overview thread in this forum for more on that) and I was admittingly curious to see what this one was about. It doesn't even feel like the same concept as compared to the Kevin Bacon original, even though Paul Verhoeven, director of the first Hollow Man, was onboard to executively produce believe it or not. The only real "lead" here is Christian Slater, and I simply don't know what he was thinking to take this role....he must need a paycheck. Actually, in all honesty, the choice for Slater here was not that bad because his voice as the new Hollow Man works. But it seems so odd for him to "star" in such a low-rent, direct-to-home-video production...this seems regulated, these days, to Steven Seagal. At any rate, the plot of Hollow Man 2, as is the case of most of these theater-free films, is as confusing as they come, until the 90 minute running time is almost up and the loose ends are tied as best as possible. This is more of a government conspiracy-type flick than a full-throttle sci fi thriller as the first film went for, and it suffers because of it. Not only is the acting sub par, but you can totally feel where the filmmakers were trying desperately to almost make this concept of an invisible man into a franchise...it's probably what director Claudio Faeh had in mind and why he signed on the director of the first film for assistance in producing this, but in the end, it comes off as a picture that just feels like a made-for-cable effort at best. Ahhhhhh....yes....the plot....let's get back to that. We don't actually see Christian Slater except for a moment when they are showing his character being injected with the invisibility serum in a flashback, and at the end, during a silly hand to hand combat scene with another invisible man (actually, it was a cool concept, but wasn't given enough time to develop). Slater is a government assassin (which we don't find out right away) who was given an invisibility serum (and there are hints made to Kevin Bacon's science team from the first film here) for some kind of governmental "super soldier" plan; the serum, of course, makes him nuts, and he is now being hunted by the government and some awfully-acted cop character who is put onto his trail after his partner gets killed by Slater's invisible self....in the meantime, there is another subplot involving a female government operative of some kind who has what is called a "buffer" which is supposed to save Slater's life because the serum is slowly killing him, but the whole thing just becomes a jumbled mess of a plot which is really not that interesting. The cop character ends up injecting himself with the serum, rendering him invisible too, to stop Slater and fight him invisibly hand to hand. The result is Slater showing signs of that "regenerating" back-to-visible-human effect as Kevin Bacon showed in the first film, but the special effects are not quite as stimulating -- good, but not mind-blowing as in the first. The same "water-poured-on-the-invisible-man" special effects are used in this one as well, and the "blood spot shows the invisible man" effects too. All in all, this never would have succeeded in commercial theaters. The first film comes off as hokey science fluff; in retrospect, this one makes that picture look quite good and almost classic in nature. Sony, who has been establishing the rights to almost every studio under the sun nowadays (okay, I am exaggerating, but you know what I mean), releases yet another look-alike, sound-alike DVD with an anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital-only surround track. The audio was fantastic -- and yet another example of when studios dump great visuals and/or audio mixes on titles that don't really deserve them. THE VIDEO: Presented in a 2:35:1 widescreen format, Hollow Man 2 had nothing that really made it stand out on the video front. Disappointing, because the film itself had nothing to really recommend it. The main characteristic about this transfer (probably due to the low budget constraints) is that it really looks kind of dull -- colors are not bright, blacks are not that deep or rich, and there's a kind of "shadowing" over the entire image; there were no real problems per se, and no grain or other annoying artifacts were present, but the image just did not flaunt many positive elements. Now, this may have completely been on the behalf of the director, and the commentary on the making-of featurette did not hint to it, but that's what I saw. THE AUDIO: Holy shit....excuse my language people....was this a wild, aggressive Dolby Digital 5.1 English mix....one of the hottest Dolby tracks I have heard in a LONG time. This is obviously where the money was spent on this DVD transfer, as bass wallops through the length of the film during any action scene, effects scream through the surrounds and every nuance of the track is perfectly placed in each of the 5.1 channels....wow. A great job by Sony here. In fact, this audio mix is better than the DTS track on the Superbit Deluxe version of Hollow Man, and that was surprising to me. Of course, this is a new release (2006), and the first film is not, but still; Sony went through the work of preparing a DTS mix for Hollow Man in Superbit format, and the Dolby Digital mix on the rotten sequel comes out sounding way hotter. Go figure. At any rate, action sequences in the film are accompanied by thuds of LFE -- such as when characters are hit by speeding cars, that kind of thing -- and bullets from handguns are flung violently, aggressively and downright jarring into the surrounds at times; the whole mix was aggressive from almost beginning to end. This, to be truthful, sounds like a good DTS mix. Something else of note: all of Sony's recent releases, like The Exorcism of Emily Rose, When a Stranger Calls, The Fog....they are all coming with rather bass-heavy Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, to the point that the LFE is brimming with excitement and rattles your listening room...this happened on more than one occasion during Hollow Man 2, and I noticed that almost all of Sony's latest DVD offerings are delivering very "hefty" sounding audio mixes with loads of LFE. Not a bad thing, but worth mentioning, yes? Outdoor scenes in the film produced audio that was nothing short of demo quality, with cars and their horns honking from every direction, rain falling perfectly in the surrounds, and surround channels receiving the appropriate directional information. Some special features were included on this one-disc release, but nothing really worth mentioning. I can only recommend this as perhaps a rental, even though my girlfriend enjoyed it more than I did (but then again, she enjoys government-conspiracy plotted films), and only if you are curious to see what they came up with as an attempt to continue the Hollow Man "franchise".... ....and Christian Slater better ramp up his interviews with his agent.... Thanks for reading, friends!