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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Superhero > Horror > Robocop (Blu-ray/MGM/Fox + 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD Set) + Hollow Man (Blu-ray/Sony)

Robocop (Blu-ray/MGM/Fox + 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD Set) + Hollow Man (Blu-ray/Sony)


Picture: B-/C+/A-     Sound: B-/C+/A-     Extras: D/B/C+     Films: B+/B+ & B/B



No matter what anyone says, Paul Verhoeven is a very good filmmaker, though he is not perfect.  Robocop is an example of a film of his that has endured and continues to be so popular, that recent rumors and plans to remake it (already?) were shot down loudly by fans everywhere.  The tale of a cop killed in the line of duty only to be recycled by a greedy corporation into a robot rings truer today than when it was first released in 1987.  Hollow Man is about a scientist (Kevin Bacon) taking advantage of corporate/university intervention to become a madman as his own personal innovations go unchecked.


We have previously covered both films, more of which you can read about at the following links:


Hollow Man Superbit



Robocop Trilogy




I was happy to see Hollow Man hold up so well.  Many nit-picked the film, but with that pettiness aside, it is a bolder, smarter, more honest film about madness (despite its action conventions) than it is often thought of as being.  No wonder it is an early Sony back catalog Blu-ray.


The 1080p MPEG-2 @ 21 MBPS 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on the Robocop Blu-ray and both anamorphically enhanced cuts (R & X) on the new DVD set come from varied masters and they are all problematic.  The Blu-ray has color, detail and depth issues that are a shame in their inconsistency and inaccuracy.  The DVD is even worse, with awful Video Black and color gutting.  None of the three cuts look anything like the memorable cinematography of Director of Photography Jost Vacano, A.S.C.  Remarkably, the uncut DVD transfer from The Robocop Trilogy is still best, with depth, color correctness, color consistency and fleshtones that look much more natural.  Despite minor grain problems, it is the only version that looks like the kind of print that Orion would have been able to blow-up to 70mm.  The previous Blu-ray of the R-rated cut from MGM/Sony on Blu-ray that was cancelled before official release is also supposed to be bad, so avoid that one and get the trilogy.


Fortunately, the 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image on Hollow Man is another story, again shot so well by Vacano.  Like Starship Troopers, the money was really put into the film, including the digital effects and it is all on screen looking good.  The Superbit DVD was one of the best in that series, but this Blu-ray is easily its successor and including its smart digital work, is a demo quality back catalog release.


The new Blu-ray also had DTS HD Master Audio lossless and it is a mixed bag, not sounding like the sound from either a 35mm Dolby SR print upgraded or 70mm Dolby 4.1 mag mix, but a patchwork of sounds of various generations.  The new DVD DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes sound totally compressed throughout and make the film sound older than it should.  Once again, though it only offered a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, it outdoes the new DTS mixes and continues to impress with warmth, clarity, soundfield accuracy and comes from first-generation materials.  This includes clearer, cleaner dialogue, better sound effects and Basil Poledouris’ score shines best here for all music soundtrack and audiophiles to appreciate.  Maybe a 50GB SE of the film will get it right next time.


The PCM 16/48 5.1 mix on Hollow Man even outdoes the commendable DTS 5.1 track on the Superbit edition, with richer, fresher and more dynamic as the 7.1 SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) theatrical mix was upon original release.  This includes Jerry Goldsmith’s score coming through with the best possible impact and the combination of sound effects and soundfield being so good, it can hold its own against just about all of the major sound mixes since then.  I would have always rated the Superbit sound and picture in between B & B+ at best.  This Blu-ray outdoes it with ease.  Hope the eventual Starship Troopers Blu-ray has a new mix too.


There are no extras on the Robocop Blu-ray, but the new DVD set repeats the extras on the Robocop Trilogy version and adds three excellent new featurettes: Villains Of Old Detroit, Special Effects: Then & Now and Robocop: Creating A Legend.  Hollow Man should also have a Paul Verhoeven audio commentary, but offers an HBO making of piece, VFX picture-in-picture comparison and 15-minutes Fleshing Out The Hollow Man featurette, all of which are also worth your time after seeing the film.


Though Robocop is a disappointment, Hollow Man joins three other solid Blu-rays of Verhoeven’s films we have already covered.  You can read more about them at the following links:


Total Recall



Basic Instinct



Black Book




-   Nicholas Sheffo


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