Cue 2006 in your head, back when Sony is picking at their catalog and releasing quickie sequels direct-to-video, hedging their bets on the attached names. Thus, Hollow Man 2 was born, following up on the successful if not critically appreciated Kevin Bacon-starring original. Slap Christian Slater on the thing who only needs to supply voice overs, and minimal risk means major profits.

Of course, that presents the scripting with a problem. Elisabeth Shue left a facility crumbling under flames after her rumble with Kevin Bacon, and one assumes all of the research went with it. No worries. The Department of Defense strikes the invisible soldier plan back into action, recruiting biologist Maggie Dalton (Laura Regan) to continue the work anew.

Christian Slater’s Hollow Man is instantaneous. A lavish, expensive party finds his first victim drunk and battered, the only information relating to Slater’s light reflecting character is that he suffers from some unknown form of asthma. First person viewpoints are layered with loud breathing, and it is a wonder how no one hears him sneaking up. For a supposed Special Forces veteran, he seems incredibly out of shape.

Slater is ticked off, left for dead by the government, explained away by muddy reasoning. Whatever the case, the program is in lock down as is the chemical Slater needs to continue living. Hence, his need for Maggie who is the only one who can concoct the liquid. Also toss in a ludicrously young detective Frank Turner (Peter Facinelli) assigned to protect her, and we have a sequel.

Hollow Man 2 is a bunch of chases, one marginally impressive action scene, and plenty of brooding nighttime scenery, all without any of the color found in the original. Even if the mega-budgeted Hollow Man stood on shaky entertainment ground, the thrills were there. The sequel is gliding on coattails, attempting to save itself with an admittedly sharp duel in the rain to close. Effects are better than expected.

Sony’s rushed effort also loses the strong female lead, Maggie little more than a traditional damsel in distress who needs Frank’s help to do much of anything. By the end of the film, she is nothing more than a target. Then again, Hollow Man 2 two includes a teenage sex sequence for no reason other than to bare breasts, so no shocker at dismal female characterization all around. Hollow Man 2 is merely grasping at the shards of the first, trying to mimic some of that Paul Veerhoven nastiness, and instead, runs itself aground into boredom. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]

Black levels dull @ 47:32

Mill Creek dumps the sequel onto Blu-ray with its predecessor on a single disc, and what you see here will undoubtedly be the best Hollow Man 2 will look on the format. It is doubtful many distributors are grasping at the chance to secure the rights. The AVC encode kicks off in trouble, strangled by the available space and/or poor encoding as the grain structure dominates the opening scene. Tinted warmly, the backgrounds swarm with artifacts, creating a noisy image with little appreciable definition.

Follow that up with a more permanent look: Nighttime. Plentiful blues and dim black levels are inbound for the rest of the feature until the closing moments. The style is pale, flat, and lacking impact. Noise can creep into areas of the screen the black levels should be obscuring.

Hollow Man 2 is oppressed by darkness, unable to push through any definite fine detail, and often appears lightly filtered. Shadows keep most of the images obscured, and limited light casting a cold haze on flesh tones. Sharpness is never a concern because it never reaches a point that can be considered sharp. Some of this lies at the hands of the compression, the rest solely on the quick photography needed for direct-to-video features. The DVD edition was hardly a beacon of perfection either. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Video]

The 5.1 DTS-HD track seems unaware of its capabilities, locked to the stereos almost exclusively. The film’s highest moment of action, a SWAT team attack outside of a home, has a shoot-out with a few grenade explosions, yet still cannot find the surrounds. Separation, even then, is mild.

Outside of the action, Slater’s breathing is never featured anywhere other than the center, missing an opportunity to be creepy. Crowded locations and street level scenes are dead without much in the way of design. Hollow Man 2’s brightest audio moment is a car chase where limited tracking occurs across the soundfield. It’s loud and not much else. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Audio]

No extras here. Consider the original movie the best thing about the disc. [xrr rating=0/5 label=Extras]

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For more information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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