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|Index||134 reviews in total|
This movie got poor-to-middling reviews when it was released in 1994 but I
still hold out hope that it eventually gets its proper respect in TV and
Cable reruns, because it's a terrificly entertaining film. Maybe it just
takes a certain frame of mind or background to enjoy this movie, but I
absolutely love it and frequently go back to it when I want to see how a
dark, edgy, and FUN movie is done right.
Alec Baldwin is excellent as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow. Baldwin has never achieved the commercial sucess many predicted for him and this movie perhaps shows why; Baldwin doesn't play a straight protagonist. The movie begins with Cranston as a hedonistic warlord in China and then jumps to his reformed Shadow persona is 1930's New York, and it is Baldwin's performance, which teeters between serious and funny, nice and cruel, that bridges the gap.
Russell Mulcahy and crew did an excellent job creating a 1930's-noir feel to the picture. One of my friends complained that the movie sets were "too obviously fake", I think he missed the point. They re-created the feel of a 1930's movie set, not the 1930's itself!
The movie is a bit campy at times but thankfully maintains the dark edge of the Shadow character, who has no qualms about killing or maiming his opponents (hey, this guy was a bloodthirsty killer in his previous life, you think he's going to forget how to use that power when he changes sides?). John Lone does a nice job as the Shadow's opposite number, Shiwan Khan. The supporting cast is excellent as well (Jonathon Winters, Ian McKellan, Tim Curry) with perhaps the exception of Penelope Ann Miller, whose character and performance were rather annoying, but I can live with it.
Overall I give this movie a BIG thumbs up and recommend it to anyone that enjoys fun movies. I've gotten a mixed reaction from friends I've recommended it to but I think this is the kind of movie where if you like it all, you'll love it.
Before BATMAN, there was THE SHADOW. In the history of troubled
billionaires donning disguises at night, THE SHADOW told
story of Lamont Cranston before Bruce Wayne's story filled DC Comics' pages.
Finally, in 1994, the long-running radio drama came to life on the big
screen in one of the best adaptations since Tim Burton brought The Dark
Knight to the silver screen in 1989. For some reason, the movie never
caught on with the public; maybe not as many people remembered the radio
version as I did. I loved it, though; I could watch this film again and
Alec Baldwin (BEETLEJUICE, HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER) plays Lamont Cranston, a former drug lord who is captured by a Tibetan monk and retrained to fight evil as his penance for doing it. Cranston's power is a kind of hypnotic telepathy; he has the power to "cloud men's minds", which he uses to make himself invisible to evildoers except for his shadow (because light itself can never be fooled).
Cranston lives an exciting double life in what is apparently a glamorized version of the 30's, playing the town as a billionaire playboy and building up a secret network of helpers from those he saves as The Shadow (each identified with a silver fire opal ring given them upon their rescue), until he meets his match in two ways: Cranston loses his heart to enchanting-but-scatterbrained Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller), and The Shadow must fight his evil counterpart, Shiwan Khan (John Lone), last descendant of Genghis Khan, who has a hypnotic telepathy of his own and is seeking to bring life as we know it to an end using elements that have never been combined before (Dr. Roy Tam to Cranston: "I guess you'd call it an implosive-explosive-submolecular destruction device." Cranston: "Or an 'atomic bomb'." Tam: "Hey, that's catchy.").
Forget trying to follow the plot; like BATMAN, the plot isn't the point. The point is the look and feel of the movie, and this movie has glamour and pizazz to spare. 1930's New York City has NEVER looked better. The special effects are brilliant (at one point, as water rises in an enclosed room, the invisible Shadow's legs make deep dents in the rising water) and very well used throughout, so that they are not intrusive but rather a part of the story. Like BATMAN, there's also a large assortment of anachronistic gadgetry (pneumatic tubes delivering messages over a sophisticated network, video phones, elaborate neon billboards) that somehow work with the story as well. And the acting--Baldwin, Miller, Lone, Peter Boyle as Cranston's driver, Tim Curry as an evil scientist in league with Lone, Ian McKellen as Margo's father, another scientist whose discoveries are exploited by Khan--is also first-rate. THE SHADOW is the perfect Saturday Night movie: Fun to watch, attractive-looking, and not terribly taxing on the brain. Go see it.
A short comment about this movie from a German point of view, which may
a difference when we're talking about radio plays/comics adapted to the
"The Shadow" as a radio play is virtually unknown around here. (I used the opportunity to check out some old recordings on the web, and it's _awesome_ to listen to!) So, German audiences will just walk into the theatre without any proconceived ideas about how it should be, expecting just any other adventure movie.
As such, IMHO it stood up well. Baldwin is cool; of course his demi-dark side begs for a comparision to Batman, but I think Baldwin wins in terms of credibility and depth of character. The gimmicks and gadgets are neat, Tim Curry as the half-villain is entertaining to watch as always (though he overdoes it a bit at times), the script is well-paced, the action is staged superbly, the music is gripping.
But most of all: Kudos to the production design/special effects/makeup team! They did a superb job in transforming the Shadow's 'invisibility' (as well as his overall looks) from a radio idea to the screen. It was awesome to watch, and at the same time a bit chilling and frightening.
Drawback: Beside the intentional jokes ("I'm not interested in your balls..."), some takes just seemed to be unintentionally funny- perhaps they went a little too far in trying to create a gloomy atmosphere...
Along with _The Rocketeer_, this one's also one of the unfortunately widely underrated films. Certainly not a milestone in film history, but a good and entertaining flick to watch with a bag of popcorn and a girl to hold in your arms during the scary moments. But I'm pretty sure- The Shadow... knows!
This movie was the best effort to bring this unique hero to the big screen.
Granted, although I like her in general, Penelope Ann Miller was not as
strong a Margo as I would have liked, otherwise, I thought this was an
outstanding achievement. The look and feel are perfect and I loved how they
made sure many of The Shadow's regular crew made their appearances...
Shrivey, Roy Tam, Burbank.
The main reason I wanted to comment on this movie, however, was because of the question raised by Patrick in London about why Baldwin's nose changed shape when he became The Shadow. Lamont Cranston's hawk-nosed profile was one of the most famous trademarks of The Shadow. Alec Baldwin, however, does not naturally have that kind of look (to be honest, Lee Van Cleef may be the only movie actor in history with the correct look to have been able to portray The Shadow without resorting to make-up or special effects). Personally, I thought it was a brilliant touch to make that profile an illusion which Cranston utilizes when he becomes The Shadow. It makes it more believable that no one would be able to figure out he is The Shadow. A profile as distinct as Cranston's traditional look would make it difficult to believe that no one could put two and two together... kind of like believing that no one could figure out that Clark Kent is Superman just because he wears glasses. To me, it was just one more thing that elevated this movie above the usual superhero genre flick because it showed an appreciation and respect for the source material that Hollywood is not necessarily known for.
For those of you who have ever heard the old radio show, this
was a masterpiece. It carefully blended most or all of the element's of
hero's long- lasting career.
I can't think of a better choice for the lead than Alec Baldwin. He could easily play up the psychic aspects of the character. He even took the trademark Shadow laugh and made it creepier than ever.
See this movie! If you're a fan of the Batman films or the Rocketeer, this movie is for you.
I don't really understand the bad rep this movie has gotten. Sure, its
"high art" (then again, Shakespeare, Dickens and Herodetus weren't meant
be, or perceived as, high art when they were written). What The Shadow
and remains, in my eyes, is one of the best super-hero adaptations ever
best until X-Men came out, in my opinion).
I'm not terribly familiar with the old radio drama Shadow, so I can't speak as to the details, but the feeling, the essence of the movie fits with what I've experienced. Much more importantly, it stand out well on its own.
Special effects play a major part, but are not of the over-played. Action is well done, and acting is acceptable, though rarely outstanding (the Shadow's cabbie Shrebnitz is an engrossing exception).
What really makes this movie stand out is the layering. Plots, characters, backgrounds, all are complex. The movie's basic plot is well-paced, occasionally a bit slow, but it makes up for it with the incredible wealth of details it packs in. Watching the movie, one gets the sense of an incredible amount of backstory for each character (little things, like the family life of some of the Shadow's agents, barely glimpsed, or even just the complex web of those agents across the city), or that around the corner there lies a world to explore.
This movie can be difficult to classify, which may lead to its unpopularity. Clearly its not a drama, not is it a comedy, nor even entirely an action. Scifi or fantasy are both possible descriptions, but they fail. The Shadow is comicbook style, in the truest sense of the genre. Complex characters, pull-pounding action, some jokes, some drama...it all mixes together. If you can get a bead on the style, its a very enjoyable movie, far ahead of most other super-hero films (Superman, Batman, the Phantom, etc.)
I recommend watching it, but only with an open mind.
Many people would not agree with the maximum rating being awarded to this film. I should agree with them, the one reason I don't is that you can clearly see this film attempted to be great in all areas. I feel sorry for them, they carried the story well and related back to a lot from the original stories. They would have succeeded if it weren't for the fact that they made a couple of casting errors. The lead hero and villain were good, Tim Curry always boosts a film and the female wasn't that bad really. The rest should have been reconsidered, however. Sir Ian McKellen is capable of so much more than he delivered, which is surprising. Even so, he should not have been chosen for that role. The one problem this film really has is that it chose to use a character created in times when there weren't any heroes really. It is nearly impossible to understand these times and therefore the impact of the character was lost on the audience this time around. It is a real shame, because the shot of The Shadow at the top of the stairs in the hotel is one of the best you will find of any hero in film. If you are aware of the original Shadow articles, this film will probably already be in your collection. It does a great job and should not have flopped to the extent it did. I would strongly encourage anyone considering watching this film to rent it. If you like the superhero genre, which is on the rise, you will love this film. Cliché, yes, but true.
I found THE SHADOW to be simply amazing. I thought that this movie was a work of art and was the classic definition of a sleeper film. When we were blessed with this great film, it did not get the recognition it deserved. I found this film to be full of great action sequences and witty-special effects. I was disappointed to find that it got such a low vote. This movie was astonishing and I recommend it to anyone who likes creative,action films.
The Shadow is one of the best super-hero films ever made. Ranking up their with Superman (1978) it's one of those rare gems that boasts of a cast deserving of their roles and superb writing. A sleek, noir adventure full of action, intrigue, truly evil villians, and one bombshell of a heroine. the Shadow is not one to be missed.
Before mentioning the story, I have to warn potential buyers of this
Universal Studios committed the unbelievable "sin" of photographing this in the original 1.85:1 widescreen but only offering it on DVD in formatted-to-TV, so you miss a good percentage of the great visuals. Not only that, they zoom the picture to fill the screen so it isn't sharp, either. I hope this situation is rectified. It's a disgrace.
As for the story, it's simply a very hokey-but very entertaining fantasy/adventure, based on the popular radio hero of the 1930s.
This is just pure escapism, not to be judged seriously because it's a dumb story. It's cartoon-like, an outlandish story that mixes action, comedy and a superhero with time-travel and all sorts of strange happenings. For someone who likes to gawk at the sights and sounds of the '30s and '40s, this is a fun film. The surround sound in here is fun, too, especially when The Shadow (Alec Baldwin) speaks.
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