Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Shadow (Blu-ray) - What Evil Lurks in Alec Baldwin?

Being familiar with the old time radio serial, The Shadow and then picking up a copy of the the Alec Baldwin flick from 1994 will make one feel schizophrenic. On one hand you're dealing with a classic piece of noir, crime drama storytelling from the early days of a narrative broadcast fiction. On the other, you're looking at a highly produced action film post-Rocketeer with some very big name stars looking ultra-polished and without a bit of grit or grime on them. Perhaps there's a happy medium to be met between exploitation cinema of old that might have portrayed the Shadow in a more heinous light and the glitz and glamour (read that over-production) of mid-90's action movie making. Shout Factory has given us The Shadow on Blu-ray. And it knows what lurks in your heart and maybe your wallet if this kind of high production value action comedy is your thing.

Synopsis from Shout Factory:

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.


I didn't hate The Shadow, but I remember listening to Robert Englund talk about The Shadow serials of old and how that was a partial inspiration for Freddy Kruger. Take that thought and then combine it with a heavily made up and costumed Alec Baldwin behind the cape and you'll see where my reality disassociates. The image that I have of the Shadow is much darker. Spookier. Closer to Film Noir Horror than the budget frills of a superhero picture from the mid-90s. Once you fix the askew images in your brain, you can allow yourself to laugh at The Shadow. It's quite funny at times starring Alec Baldwin looking debonair, dapper and with a sense of charm that is more Bond than brutal. The whole picture plays out like a sort of Kung Fu movie, perhaps a poor substitute for the Rocketeer or Dick Tracy with hints of Big Trouble in Little China.  For a guy who likes things to feel their age, this is more a product of the Hollywood of the 40's making a giant production out of a movie that might need to be turned down slightly. It's visually loud. Baldwin puts on his famous "Oh really" face and then brings his camp and charisma playbook to a role that should feel more like Sin City dry.

The backdrops are actually quite gorgeous as is the attention to detail in set creation and costuming. Hollywood really wanted to make some dough on this one. This isn't a problem for just the Shadow mind you. After Tim Burton's Batman all movies, horror, action etc were doomed to become once big box office, marketing grab. The Shadow may not have seen it's share of the toy production line, but it had the proper look at feel to make a go of it. 

The disc contains interviews with Director Russell Mulcahy, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Ann Miller, Production Designer Joseph Nemec, III, Director of Photography Stephen H. Burum and writer David Koepp (aka the big Kahuna). There's a theatrical trailer and still gallery as well. 

You can order The Shadow NOW. The disc releases on February 25th.

It's great for fans of superhero movies or big production noir pieces with lots of Art Decco. I think if you're  fan of Tim Burton's Batman you're a shoe in to at least find this moderately entertaining if your not disappointed by the lack of authenticity. 

-Doc Terror

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