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Alec Baldwin stars with Penelope Ann Miller as the legendary crime-fighting superhero in "The wittiest action-adventure since Indiana Jones!" (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!
A mixed bag that received mixed reviews when released in 1994, this lavish film works overtime to honor the spirit and style of the vintage pulp novels and radio shows that made The Shadow a household name in the 1930s and '40s. Alec Baldwin plays the Shadow, a.k.a. Lamont Cranston, who arrives in New York from his decadent life in Tibet, fully reformed and disciplined in his ability "to cloud men's minds." A crime fighter who lurks in the dark recesses of the city, the Shadow faces his most deadly challenge when Shiwan Khan (John Lone), the last surviving descendant of Genghis Khan, hatches a plot to conquer the world. The scheme involves a madman (Tim Curry), a hapless scientist (Ian McKellen), and various traps designed to catch and kill the Shadow, who must also contend with his blossoming romance with Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller), a slender beauty capable of a little mind play of her own. The movie's art deco production design turns out to be a scene-stealer when the plot drags, and in the title role Baldwin is never given enough good material to create a compelling character. Still, The Shadow is true to the legacy that inspired it, admirably avoiding any conspicuous compromise of its 1930s style and setting. If you can't get into the story, you're sure to be hooked by the look of the production, which is never less than dazzling. --Jeff Shannon
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[IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: the 1994 Shadow film is described as "falling flat," in reference to it's box office performance, not entertainment value.]
well, it's good to know interest enough remains for there to be a market for a historical overview of this sort. it's even somewhat exhilirating to learn that Sam Raimi - who, according to this very documentary, was unable to get the rights to The Shadow and so designed DARKMAN in The Shadow's image - has managed to acquire the rights to the real deal. (though i hasten to add, even if it does go without saying, that he'll have to make one mother of a movie if he's to equal, let alone surpass, that woefully underappreciated 1994 version starring Alec Baldwin.)
the story of the creation of The Shadow, and his various performances though various media, is the sort that could only happen in real life, because any fictional story in which this happened would be dismissed as positively outlandish for it. the prototype version of the character was created almost literally out of thin air in 1931, when "pulp" magazine syndicate Street & Smith decided to sponsor a radio series to showcase it's "Detective Story Magazine." not unlike "The Fonz" a few decades later, the etheral, peripheral narrator would steal the show from the sidelines...to such an extent that listeners would be asking their newsdealers for "that Shadow magazine." once the higher-ups got word, they hired a magician-turned-journalist named Walter B. Gibson to chronicle The Shadow's own adventures, and it was all uphill from there.
i can't continue on this line. i find that i'm basically telling the story, and if i do that, why would you need to buy it for yourself? sufficed to say that The Shadow was a publishing phenomenon, then the flagship of action/adventure on radio, then the focal point of a load of merchandising, even making his way into comic books, blah-di-blah-di-blah. it's a story well worth taking a peek into, and the people behind this DVD tell it much better than i can (at least with these resources).
i do have one complaint in the sound quality. i've noticed that on a number of "budget" DVDs, the sound quality is a little uneven, to say the least. when background music plays it's overwhelmingly loud, then in simple cases of people talking they might as well be whispering, because you had to turn the volume down when the damn music engulfed you. i wish someone in the technical end would find a way around this, but until they do, you'll just have to keep your thumb next to the volume button on your remote control.
but if you're willing to put yourself through that ordeal, the life-story of The Shadow will pay you back with interest.
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