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Russell Mulcahy
Alec Baldwin, John Lone, Penelope Ann Miller, Peter Boyle, Ian McKellen, Tim Curry, Jonathan Winters
Writing Credits:
Walter B. Gibson (character, 'The Shadow' from stories), David Koepp

The Shadow Knows!

Alec Baldwin stars as the legendary crime-fighting superhero in The Shadow, ’a spellbinding runaway entertainment ride’ (NBC News). Donning his sweeping black cape and disguise, The Shadow takes on his most dangerous nemesis yet: the last descendant of the great Genghis Khan whose weapon of choice is an atomic bomb. With the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, they square off for a spectacular battle in a dazzling mixture of mind-blowing special effects, humor and a dose of the macabre that will hold you spellbound!

Box Office:
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$11.700 million on -unknown- screens.
Domestic Gross
$32.055 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 108 min.
Price: $29.93
Release Date: 2/25/2014

• “Looking Back at The Shadow” Featurette
• Trailer
• Still Gallery


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Shadow [Blu-Ray] (1994)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 13, 2014)

Although 1989’s Batman brought back superheroes as a viable cinematic subject, this revival didn’t last long. Follow-ups like 1990’s Dick Tracy and 1992’s Batman Returns didn’t live up to the heights Batman enjoyed, so the genre largely petered out until 2002’s Spider-Man brought it back to prominence.

Into this “lean period” came 1994’s The Shadow. Based on the 1930s character, the movie intended to be a summer blockbuster but audiences failed to embrace it. It made a mere $32 million in the US, so any potential franchise died then and there.

Like most, I stayed away from The Shadow in 1994, but I figured this 2014 Blu-ray gave me a good chance to see if I missed anything. We open in Tibet after World War I, where we meet American Lamont Cranston (Alec Baldwin). Rather than go home following the war, Lamont decides to install himself as a warlord called “Ying Ko” who rules in a brutal manner.

Those who follow a supernatural holy man named the Tulku (voiced by Barry Dennen) abduct Lamont and the leader commands Cranston to become a force of good. Despite Lamont’s initial objections, he eventually obeys and undergoes seven years of training.

Cranston then returns to New York City, where he acts like a shallow “man about town” to hide his secret identity as the Shadow, a crime-fighting vigilante. Along the way, he runs up against Shiwan Khan (John Lone), a baddie with similar powers who plans to eventually take over the world. We follow their battles as well as Cranston’s romance with Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller) and related elements.

Given his career path since 1994, it becomes difficult to recall the era in which Baldwin seemed like a viable action hero. I think we now view him as a comedic actor, and the sight of Baldwin in “superhero mode” seems a little tough to take.

Baldwin did fine as Jack Ryan in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October, but that role was more of an “everyman” than Cranston/The Shadow. Baldwin handles the playboy side of the part reasonably well but can’t do much with the Shadow himself; rather than give the character the mystical menace he needs, Baldwin lends the Shadow a feeling of campy insouciance that doesn’t work.

That tone tends to permeate the film. While I don’t think Shadow needs the level of seriousness found in the Dark Knight trilogy, it tends too much toward the lighter/more comedic vibe. Even when the movie doesn’t look for obvious laughs, it plays in such a glib, semi-campy manner that it doesn’t stick. A little added drama would make events more exciting and less fluffy.

The absence of compelling characters doesn’t help. Though the Shadow clearly influenced Batman, the latter offers a substantially more interesting role as developed in movies. While the Shadow may have come first, Batman does pretty much everything better, and that factor means this film stalls because the lead personality doesn’t do much for us.

Batman also has much more interesting foes than the intensely forgettable ones found here. Maybe someone out there thinks Shiwan Khan is more involving than the Joker, but I suspect it’d be hard to find that person. Khan never becomes more than a token, one-note baddie; he adds nothing to the film other than a generic menace.

Director Russell Mulcahy does bring a nice sense of style to the production, as the film captures its Depression Era setting in a compelling manner. And the movie comes with a positive cast; in addition to those mentioned, we find talents such as Ian McKellen, Tim Curry, Jonathan Winters and Peter Boyle.

Unfortunately, the movie feels like a superficial combination of Batman and Dick Tracy and never combusts. That doesn’t make The Shadow a truly bad film, and it does show occasional glimmers of life. These don’t ever get going to a substantial degree, though, so the flick remains largely forgettable and mediocre.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus C

The Shadow appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a mostly appealing presentation, though it could show its age.

Sharpness was a bit inconsistent. Much of the movie showed good definition, but it could be a bit up and down, so some shots looked a little tentative. Still, most of the movie displayed fairly nice delineation. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes failed to mar the presentation. I also didn’t notice many print flaws; I saw an occasional speck or streak but nothing problematic.

Shadow featured a rather subdued palette. Much of the movie worked from a somewhat blue tone that kept the proceedings “cool”, but warmer colors occasionally appeared as well. The tones worked okay; they could’ve been clearer but they came across with fair vivacity. Blacks were reasonably dense, and shadows showed decent delineation, though these could’ve been smoother. This was a good presentation but not one that impressed.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it endured the last 20 years reasonably nicely. The soundscape proved to be fairly active and involving. From the opening in Tibet to the climactic battle, the movie used the spectrum in a satisfying manner.

The front channels demonstrated the best movement/integration, but the surrounds got a lot of work as well. Though the track lacked convincing split-speaker usage in the rear, those channels nonetheless brought a nice sense of place, and they bolstered the music as well.

The quality of the track seemed fine. Speech occasionally became a bit edgy, but the lines were always intelligible and usually appeared reasonably natural. Music was peppy and bold, while effects came across as clear and distinctive. I felt we got a solid “B” soundtrack that leaned toward “B+” territory at times.

While most of these Shout Factory releases come packed with extras, Shadow seems light on bonus features. The main attraction stems from Looking Back at The Shadow, a 23-minute, 44-second featurette. It includes comments from director Russell Mulcahy, writer David Koepp, production designer Joseph C. Nemic III, cinematographer Stephen H. Burum, and actors Alec Baldwin and Penelope Ann Miller. “Back” examines the screenplay and story/character areas, production design and cinematography, period details and the film’s style, cast and performances, and various effects.

Though it’s a relatively short piece, “Back” delivers a nice overview of the production. It’s great to hear from a star like Baldwin – Shout Factory seems to be able to get stars to discuss their “action adventure days” – and the show covers a good array of subjects. I only wish it ran longer, as I’d love to hear more about the shoot.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a still gallery. This presents 95 frames with a mix of production photos, behind the scenes, poster art, and promotional stills. These end up as a nice collection.

While not devoid of charms, The Shadow lacks much excitement and intrigue. It delivers periodic bouts of entertainment but not enough to keep us occupied across its full running time. The Blu-ray provides generally positive picture and audio along with an informative documentary. I feel pleased with this release but the movie itself leaves me a bit cold.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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