Updated: Feb 14, 2021
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
Cecilia Kass (Elisabeth Moss) takes a glance back to make sure her abusive partner is still asleep.
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“THE INVISIBLE MAN”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 2020; R for some strong, bloody violence, and profanity; streaming via Amazon Video/Prime, Apple (4K), FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play (4K), Movies Anywhere (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: Commentary by Australian Director/Writer Leigh Whannell
THERE’S no difference between flashlights and torches in Australia (or England)! Director/Writer Leigh Whannell learned the cultural distinction while writing the first “Saw” (2004) movie.
“I had written that cops had ‘torches.’ The production designer called me and said, ‘Why would they have torches?’ I said, ‘Well, that’s what they’re using to search their way through the sewer.’ And she said, ‘Yeah, but they’re literally walking with sticks on fire?’ That’s when I realized American’s don’t use the word ‘torches.’ They say ‘flashlights,’” he recalls.
Whannell is best known for writing films and collaborating with his friend James Wan. In addition to the “Saw” and “Insidious” franchises, he also acts. He played Specs, part of the paranormal investigation team, in the “Insidious” movies among other roles.
As executive producer, writer and director for "The Invisible Man," he’s come full circle. And he’s got the talent, energy and enthusiasm to keep going. With a great background in horror and suspense, he planned the story to be “more about tension” instead of jump scares, he says in the commentary, but viewers will find good “jolts” scattered throughout.
(1) 3:41 a.m.- Cecilia stares at the clock knowing it's time to go. (2) She walks through Adrian Griffin's lab. (3&4) She ends up at the home of police officer/single father friend James Lanier (Aldis Hodge), as she tells him and her sister Emily (Harriet Dyer) the life she's been living with Adrian Griffin.
“When I was researching this movie, preparing to write it, I discovered that there’s really not been many adaptations of the character. That was an exciting opportunity for me. I felt I could do something new with it.” — Leigh Whannell
Elisabeth Moss, Emmy winner for Outstanding Lead Actress in “The Handmaid’s Tale” on Hulu, takes on the role of protagonist Cecilia Kass. Cec pulls off a long-planned escape from her abusive partner, Adrian Griffin, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen of “The Haunting of Hill House” from Netflix, in the opening. Adrian is ruthless and smart, a scientist involved in stealth technology. It’s a close call for Cec as she flees the mansion’s grounds to wait for her sister, Emily (Harriet Dyer) to pick her up. Cec flees to the home of a childhood friend, James Lanier, played by Aldis Hodge of “Leverage,” “Underground,” “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” and “City on a Hill.” Lanier is a single father to teen daughter Sydney (Storm Reid), who longs to be a fashion designer.
“If you’re making an ‘Invisible Man’ movie you would make it from the point of view of his victim. A woman who escapes from her abusive partner in the middle of the night and then finds out he’s killed himself, but doesn’t quite believe it, especially when mysterious things start happening.” — Leigh Whannell
(1&2) Sydney, Australia subs for San Francisco - After the apparent death of Adrian Griffin, his brother Tom a lawyer (Michael Dorman) tells Cec she's inherited his fortune. (3) She decides to deposit $10,000 a month into a college fund for James' daughter Sydney (Storm Reid).
It becomes clear to Cec and the audience that Adrian’s not dead, even after his brother Tom, a lawyer (Michael Dorman) turns up to tell her she’s inherited Adrian’s fortune … with a few stipulations. There are no potions making Adrian invisible, Whannell says in his commentary and making-of featurettes. He wanted to approach Adrian’s power of invisibility from a technological viewpoint to stay grounded in reality.
Adrian’s aggression and Cec’s fear escalate. No one believes her, no one else “sees” this trouble-making entity she raves about. It looks like Cec is losing her mind, and creating damage – like a kitchen fire – herself. When murder takes place, all eyes turn to her. Only Cec and the viewers know she’s innocent.
“I think there are a lot of people that have dealt with ‘invisible men’ in their lives. These are real characters with real problems. That’s what attracted me to the project.” — Elisabeth Moss
The film was captured on Alexa LF 4.5K digital cameras at various locations in Australia chosen for their American appearance. The mansion where Adrian Griffin creates his inventions is made up of three different houses. Cutting Edge created the special effects.
“Film was very forgiving [on stunts]. Now we’re shooting this film on an Alexa LF, a large format Alexa camera which means a lot of clarity.” — Leigh Whannell
Right. Detail and contrast look outstanding; multi-racial skin tones are perfect. Close-up details are authentic, especially as the situation becomes worse and worse for Cec. Whannell and Moss talk about how she encouraged make-up artists to make her look worn and damaged. The character is no beauty queen. Other characters also show their authentic-looking “hit” marks.
(1-3) Strange things start to happen, such as a kitchen fire. Her architectural portfolio for a job interview goes missing. Odd sounds come from the attic. (4&5) Cec returns to Adrian Griffin's oceanfront home to find a strange suit in the lab.
Backgrounds in tight- and wide-shots reveal lots of detail, even in dim lighting. The well-saturated color palette is mostly neutral and frequently cold, especially during storm scenes. They contrast against warm moments seen in James' home and with Emily. While the 1080p Blu-ray, created from the same TRUE 4K master, looks sharp and exciting, the 4K Ultra HD is an improvement in all visual aspects. We noticed a big difference with the HDR 10/Dolby Vision (disc & digital) HDR 10+ (disc) toning in Adrian’s black invisibility suit studded with myriad tiny camera lenses. Color and clarity are enhanced, while characters achieve in-the-room depth. The aspect ratio is 2.39:1; run time is just over two hours (124 minutes).
Both the 4K (disc & digital) and Blu-ray feature Dolby Atmos and Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel soundtracks. Atmos height speakers get plenty of activity during action scenes and storms. The mix well-encompasses environmental and effects sounds, with an intense bass response while conveying clear dialogue. Delivery bounces all around room speakers.
“Benjamin Wallfisch‘s score is absolutely ripping the speakers apart.”—Leigh Whannell, in commentary
Yeah … about that. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to keep the remote on hand while I watched a film. Recent scores have been better balanced and integrated into soundtracks. Not in “The Invisible Man,” where music can be overwhelming, especially if a home shares walls with others. I get the big moments without the painful “surprise” blast; most people do. A roar of music is as big a trope as jump scares. I hope Whannell can back off in future.
“I’ve, of course, been a big horror fan for a long time. I [was] obsessed with horror movies all through my teenage years. I was a big fan of these iconic horror villains, whether it’s Freddy Krueger or Pinhead.” — Leigh Whannell
(1) A knife mysterious appears after a murder. (2) Cec is taken into custody and transported to a psychiatric ward. (3) The invisible man wounds the police guards at the hospital. (4) Cec goes after the invisible man.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment delivers an entertaining group of bonus features beginning with Whannell’s droll and illuminating commentary. Don’t miss it.
There are nine deleted scenes – interesting, but good cuts for tightening the story. Three featurettes – “Moss Manifested,” “Director’s Journal with Leigh Whannell,” “The Players,” and “Timeless Terror” – deliver interviews with the director, producers, including Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions, and cast. They’re all worth your time.
“Horror movies are so functional. They have this one job, to scare people.” — Leigh Whannell
“The Invisible Man” was initially planned to be part of Universal’s Dark Universe revival of its iconic monster movies, but the pilot project, “The Mummy” (2017) starring Tom Cruise, lots of CGI and a budget of $345 million, bombed at the box office according to The New York Times. The film only earned $80.2 domestically.
With Dark Universe plans scrapped, Universal decided to go monster by monster, turning to Blumhouse and its team of horror-fan pros and their incomparable success record.
“The Invisible Man” works. Opening pre-pandemic on February 28 and running through March 19, it earned a worldwide gross of nearly $122 million against a budget of $7 million as per boxofficemojo.com. Top critics at Rotten Tomatoes give it 83 percent approval, and audiences 88 percent.
Recommended for thriller fans who like a science fiction twist.
— Kay Reynolds