The Shadow Collectors Edition Blu-ray Review -

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  • Rated: PG-13
  • Starring: Alec Baldwin, John Lone, Penelope Ann Miller, Ian McKellan, Tim Curry, Peter Boyle
  • Written By: David Koepp
  • Directed By: Russell Mulcahy
  • Original Year of Release: 1994
  • Studio: Universal Studios
  • Special Features: See Below
  • Series:

The Shadow Collectors Edition Blu-ray Review

New transfer of the 1994 film

By Tim Janson     March 10, 2014

Alec Baldwin is The Shadow
© Scream Factory/ Universal Studios
When I look back at the 1994 film, The Shadow I do so with one part fondness and three parts disappointment over what could have been.  As a fan of The Shadow for many years I was especially enthusiastic about the production since it had been nearly 50 years since the character last appeared on screen in a “B” movie The Shadow Returns.  On paper the film had a lot going for it…Alec Baldwin in the title role was one of Hollywood’s biggest starts of 1990s and was surrounded by a cast featuring John Lone, Penelope Ann Miller, Tim Curry, Peter Boyle, and a pre X-Men and Lord of the Rings Ian McKellan.  It also had a screenplay written by David Koepp who had previously written successful films such as “Jurassic Park”, “Carlito’s Way”, and “The Paper”.  Yet despite all that it had going for it The Shadow failed to connect with fans or critics.  While the film made back (barely) its $40 million dollar budget, Universal films considered it a disappointment and a potential franchise never materialized.  

Now, nearly 20 years after its theatrical release Shout Factory delivers a new Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray featuring a 1080p High-Definition Widescreen transfer and new bonus material.  Well, calling this a Collector’s Edition might be somewhat of an ambitious title.  The only bonus material included other than the original trailer and still gallery is a new interview with the director and cast which we will talk about later.  The HD transfer looks gorgeous but the film always did look great and it is only 20 years old.

Still the cinematography and set design are the film’s strongest points.  The look and feel of the glamorous 1930’s is perfectly captured with his glitzy nightclubs, women dressed in flowing gowns and men in tuxedos.  The streets, the set pieces all help bring the pulp hero’s era to life.  Koepp’s script build’s a backstory to Lamont Cranston, aka The Shadow showing us his dark background and how he is able to know the “evil that lurks in the heart of men”.  The Shadow’s first appearance, rescuing a man from being murdered by a gang of mobsters and using his signature twin .45s, was one of the highlights of the film.

Unfortunately, things would derail from there.  The Shadow’s rival is Shiwan Khan (Lone) a descendent of Genghis Khan who has same mental/supernatural abilities as the Shadow does.  Mulcachy tries to hit a grand slam with no runners on base however.  Rather than keeping it simple he goes overboard with a plot involving Khan’s plan for world domination and kidnapping an atomic scientist (Mckellan) to build a nuclear weapon to destroy New York.  The plot is further muddled by giving Margo Lane (Miller) telepathic abilities to read Cranston’s mind yet he cannot use his powers on her.  The over complication of plot elements prevents the film from truly embracing its gritty pulp magazine roots.

While there has been talk of producing a new Shadow film, including by Sam Raimi, at this time nothing is in the works.  The 1994 had its share of faults but it remains a gorgeous looking, and generally well-acted film that could have and should have been much better.

Looking Back at the Shadow (23:44) – This new documentary was produced for the collector’s edition blu-ray and features interviews with Alec Baldwin, Penelope Ann Miller, Director Russell Mulcahy, and screenwriter David Koepp.  All share their memories of working on the film.


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Davewriter 3/10/2014 8:25:42 AM

Had been a long time fan of pulps such as Doc Savage and The Shadow and had been waiting for this film with such anticipation.  The opening scene where we first see The Shadow had me grinning ear to ear and I was thinking that this was really going to be THE film.  I started squirming when Margo began displaying her mental powers and by the time we got to the slapstick "who's got the bomb?" at the end I was about to walk out.

I love the look of the film and it is, I think, the only thing I've ever like Alec Baldwin in.  I doubt that he would ever allow a heavy make-up job to "mar" his pretty face.  It is a guilty pleasure film for me and as such I may have to check out this new edition

monkeyfoot 3/10/2014 8:51:56 AM

Didn't Robert Trate just do a review of this about a month ago? Whatever. Since I'm also a Shadow fan I don't mind.

I consider the faults of this production due to the times it was made in. The 90s did superhero/comic book type characters in a tongue in cheek manner where they constantly winked at the audience. "This is silly, isn't it? But let's have fun anyway!" That was the way Superman and Batman movies were being done with success. It wasn't until Singer's X-Men and Raimi's Spider-Man that they realized the characters in the movies could take the incredible adventures they went through seriously and audiences would like it.

I've always wanted a very serious, gritty, violent, and spooky rendition of the Shadow. I'd love a cable show of him made in the style of a Justified, Luthor, BBC's Sherlock, or True Detective.

redvector 3/10/2014 9:33:19 AM

 I think a modern take on The Shadow would be a better approach, than making it a period piece. 

momitchell7 3/10/2014 10:57:23 AM

 hat's cool news, if Sam Raimi really is thinking of doing a Shadow film, I think that he would be perfect for that.

death4sale 3/10/2014 12:58:45 PM

I think the first comic film that really showed how comics can be done in a serious dark way and still be pretty damn fun and entertaining is the first Blade film. Give us a version of the Shadow that is a bit more in line with what Blade established, something a bit darker.

redhairs99 3/10/2014 1:35:14 PM

I think Raimi has been talking about doing The Shadow for the last 20 years.  I think I remember hearing that he wanted to direct this one, but the studio wouldn't take a chance on him as a director for a "big" budget franchise at the time, so he made Darkman instead.

monkeyfoot 3/10/2014 2:12:33 PM

Death4Sale, yeah that's true Blade came before X-Men or Spidey as a serious comic book adaptation. But I think the studios thought of it more as a horrror movie than a superhero comic book movie. It had vampires and stakings and blood and biting and some gore. It was all stuff that had been done and they could visualize how that would work. "Oh, it's Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a black guy." That was easier to understand.

tjanson 3/10/2014 3:57:36 PM

 as of comic con 2012 Raimi said he's no longer involved in a possible Shadow film.  At this point I do not believe there are any current plans for a new film.  But this would work great as a TV series in my opinion.  Would not take a lot of expensive special effects to do...

samson 3/10/2014 4:51:46 PM

 I always felt that Baldwin would've made a great Batman back then.

Dodgyb2001 3/10/2014 10:43:26 PM

I always enjoyed the triptych of The Rocketeer, the Shadow and The Phantom. Cheesy but fun pulp heroes. if only they'd made a team up picture of all three, they could have easily played in the same universe.

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