MEMOIRS OF AN INVISIBLE MAN
Review by Gordon Justesen
Chase, Daryl Hannah, Sam Neill, Michael McKean, Stephen Tobolowsky
Director: John Carpenter
Audio: DTS HD 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Shout Factory
Features: See Review
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: July 24, 2018
ďI donít sleep well. I can see through my eyelids. I can see through the top of my head. I get walleyed. I get bat-sh*t!Ē
I remember becoming genuinely excited when Memoirs of an Invisible Man first came around in 1992 for several reasons. The first being I had not yet been able to experience seeing an invisible man on screen. To me, there has always been something incredibly awesome and fascinating about being invisible, and the mere fact that a movie was going to showcase it with, what were at the time, revolutionary visual effects was ultimately exciting.
Another big reason was that since I was too young to have been able to watch many of John Carpenterís more notable work at the time, outside of Big Trouble in Little China the fact that he was the one directing a non R-rated movie about an invisible man got me even more excited. Even the notion Carpenterís name wasnít above the title, which had never been the case ever since Halloween, didnít dash my hopes one bit. I saw the movie, and was satisfied as about any 13 year old who hadnít yet developed a knack for taste could be.
The plot concerns Nick Holloway (Chevy Chase), a successful stock analyst in San Francisco. One day, while hung over during a meeting at a bio-tech company, he decides to venture to a nearby room to sleep it off. While asleep, a freak accident occurs inside the building. When he wakes up, Nick is stunned to find himself, along with portions of the building, have been rendered invisible.
This attracts the interest of David Jenkins (Sam Neill), a shady operative for the CIA who thinks Nick can be a valued asset to the agency given his current state. Nick, however, wants no part of it and becomes a man on the run. He just wants his molecules back so he can rekindle a romantic fling with the very beautiful Alice (Daryl Hannah), whom he met and became flirtatious with not long before he transformed into nothingness.
Having re-visited it for the first time in many years, Iíve come to realize right off the bat that the movie is above all else quite uneven. This may have something to do with the notion that John Carpenter was hired as a replacement after the firing of Ivan Reitman, who had a falling out with Chevy Chase. So if you find yourself watching it and thinking why this doesnít feel like a Carpenter movie, that would be your answer (in addition to the fact that there is no music score from Carpenter on display).
Because of that, the movie is wildly inconsistent in terms of its tone. It wants to be an espionage thriller, but since Chevy Chase is the star there also has to be moments of comedy thrown in the mix. And the love story between Chase and Hannahís character is rarely even touched upon, making one wonder why it was even included in the first place...but Daryl Hannah was one of the hottest women at the time so naturally the movie garners points just for allowing me to look at her.
The movie is certainly not without its merits. The special effects work remains pretty fantastic, even if later films such as Hollow Man displayed similar visuals on a grander scale. For a movie made in 1992, this was absolutely groundbreaking stuff, and the sequence where Chase first discovers his invisibility is quite a terrific moment of movie magic and wonder unfolding before your eyes.
Chevy Chase has always been hit or miss with me, and although youíd never think to accept him in something of a straightforward role, he actually does a pretty admirable job here. And when you learn of what all he had to go through in order for the visual effects to work, youíll appreciate the performance even more.
In short, Memoirs of an Invisible Man is a perfect example of a truly mixed bag. As far as John Carpenter movies are concerned...well, itís easy to understand why you never hear him reflect on this one. It serves as a fascinating foot in the realm of visual effects work, which is most astonishing to say the least, but not so much as a wholly satisfying feature.
This was actually the first time I got to see the movie in its widescreen glory, so that in itself was enough of a treat. The new 2k scan provided from Shout Factory does deliver a mostly terrific picture, with perfect amount of image detail and color display. The visual effects do show their age a bit (though for me, thatís part of the appeal), but there is still something a wow factor on display. The aforementioned sequence where Chaseís invisibility is first discovered is captured in riveting form, and provides a show-stopping moment!
Though only given a DTS 2.0 mix, the sound quality is genuinely good for a limited mix. For an early 90s release, it sounds quite impressive. The music score by Shirley Walker gets a tremendous delivery and it balances out very well with the dialogue delivery. Once again, the key sequence with Chase discovering his new state provides the best moment as far as potent sound effects are concerned.
Sadly, not as many extras on here as one would hope for a Shout Factory release of a John Carpenter movie. All of whatís offered comes directly from the original DVD release, which includes ďHow to Become InvisibleĒ, which briefly looks at the groundbreaking effects work, as well as on set interviews with the likes of Carpenter, Chevy Chase and Daryl Hannah and a brief glimpse of on-set footage. Also included are some Outtakes, a Trailer and TV Spots.
Memoirs of an Invisible Man serves as both a showcase for remarkable effects work and, for curiosity, see John Carpenter operate outside his comfort zone doing something more of a light comedy. Itís uneven quality works against it being anything of a success...but itís not without a few rewarding moments.