One of Alec Baldwin's most underrated films finally gets Blu-Ray justice.
I dunno why, but I always had an appreciation for the 1994 movie The Shadow. I never had a chance to listen to the old radio serials, but I was able to catch on with the film's dark, humorous tone just fine. Batman it's not, but maybe that's what the production team had in mind, creating its own interesting utopia.
For years, though, the movie was given a shambles treatment on home video, between the cropped full-screen, featureless DVD and last year's lifeless Blu-Ray release at the hands of Universal. Thankfully, Shout! Factory recognized this gem and decided to give it a good Collector's Edition treatment – and now the film can be seen for what it really is, a hoot of an old-school adventure film.
The Shadow (Alec Baldwin) is in fact a former barbarian who's been "redeemed" for the sake of mankind, and delivers justice in New York City by clouding men's minds, so that they can only see his shadow. However, when the descendant of Genghis Khan (John Lone, camping it up) shows up with a sinister plan for the city, The Shadow has to work fast.
Baldwin does a good job with the role, despite being a little hammy at times, but that fits with the tone of the film. Lone is a great villain, despite some lack in logic at times. The film also has a splendid secondary cast, with fun performances from Penelope Ann Miller, Jonathan Winters, Peter Boyle, Ian McKellan (yes, Magneto, kids) and even Tim Curry, who has a field day with his businessman turned would-be criminal. His scene with Lone takes the cake in this film.
The film's effects and matte paintings are obvious, but keep in mind this movie was made before multi-million dollar budgets were introduced for pulpy fare like this. Director Russell Mulcahy does a good job with it, and never makes the film seem cheap. Even the more primitive effects are a good reminder of the good ol' days of monster movies, with a dagger coming to life and going on a rampage. It just makes for a good afternoon of fun, if you don't think about it very much.
After the horrible DVD/Blu-Ray treatments beforehand, Shout Factory has finally given The Shadow a decent home treatment, with solid video and audio to go with the material. There are times the picture can get a little dark, but that just goes with the tone of the film.
As for extras, it's still pretty much bare-bones, with no commentary or "Baldwin-isms" to speak of, but there is a nifty "look-back" feature featuring him, Miller, Mulcahy, David Koepp (the writer) and others reminiscing on the film. It's good fun to watch, albeit a bit short. The classic trailer never gets old either, as it shows just how pulpy the material gets.
The Shadow won't win any comic book awards anytime soon, but it's a fun throwback to simplistic adventure, with a few goofy special effects thrown in for good measure. The cast is certainly game, and the script, despite lacking logic in times, just keeps moving. It's about time you got to know The Shadow. Y'know, if you can find him.
(Review copy provided by Shout! Factory.)
RATING: 7.5 (out of 10)
Score: 0 / 10