Plot: Lamont Cranston (Alec Baldwin) built an empire in the drug trade under an assumed identity, but he couldn’t hide forever. He was abducted by a powerful mystic, who saw potential in Cranston, but needed to train him to use his abilities against evil, not to support it. While his dark side is quite imposing, Cranston learns to channel the darkness to protect the world from threats of all kinds, which he does with little to no resistance. A new rival soon arrives however, in the form of Shiwan Khan (John Lone) and much like Cranston, Khan has mastered his darker impulses. Khan happens to be a direct descendant of the notorious Genghis Khan and his goals are similar in nature, to control the world. The route to domination leads through the power of the atomic bomb, a weapon that would cement Khan’s ambitions. Can Cranston thwart his foe’s nefarious plot, or has The Shadow met his match?
Entertainment Value: The Shadow has a long, rich history in all kinds of fields of entertainment, from the original radio show to various movies to countless books and beyond. So it was no surprise that the property would tapped for this reboot, in what was planned as a new franchise, complete with a line of action figures no less, but of course, the movie failed to light up the box office. Although I can see why mainstream audiences turned up their noses at this incarnation of The Shadow, I think the movie is a fun watch and has a lot of b movie appeal. The film feels over the top and even cheesy at times, but it works, provided you can appreciate more than a little ham mixed in with your superhero stories. A lot of secret agent/spy tropes are on showcase, the dark visuals are an absolute treat, and while the special effects are hokey, that again plays into the b movie vibes. I like that it plays into the period aspect of the old school The Shadow, which leads to some nice production design elements, not to mention some obvious film noir inspirations. At the same time, the movie does have issues with pacing and feels a touch bloated to me, with some drawn out stretches. But on the whole, The Shadow is a fun watch and for those who appreciate the character, darker superhero takes, or b movie camp, this is worth a look.
This one has a fun cast with a lot of colorful performers, but Alec Baldwin has the lead and turns in an enjoyable effort. His performance is a sincere one, but it does lean into camp often and has just enough over the top touches to be humorous at times. A turn that is too serious can often spiral into unintentional humor and that doesn’t happen often here, but it is fun to watch when it does. His gravel voice and cold eyes help a lot, though as numerous viewers have pointed out, the odd facial changes while he is in Shadow mode are more silly than anything else. But again, I appreciate the b movie camp, so I don’t mind at all. I think Baldwin is a fine lead and good anchor for the movie, while he plays off his costars well, especially in the comedic moments, but also in his rivalry with John Lone. Lone is a more than capable foil for Baldwin, with a strong performance that brings Shiwan Khan to life in grand fashion. He is more over the top, but still very fun to watch here. The cast also includes Peter Boyle, Ian McKellen, Penelope Ann Miller, Tim Curry, Jonathan Winters, James Hong, and Andre Gregory, while Russell Mulcahy directs.
The Disc: Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray of The Shadow looks quite good, in a sharp and clean looking visual presentation. The image shows solid detail throughout and offers a nice upgrade over the DVD versions I’ve seen, thanks to crisp, fine detail and no digital woes whatsoever. The colors are natural, while contrast is stark and consistent, which is especially important in this movie. Fans of The Shadow should be more than satisfied with this visual treatment.