The Shadow is one of my favourite pulp creations. When I was a kid, Rock 95 in Barrie would play the old radio serials late on Saturday evenings. He was like Batman but with guns and a cooler voice.When I got a bit older, I discovered exactly how Batman’s roots were tied to The Shadow as I have followed the character in his various incarnations over the past few years. Recently, Dynamite Entertainment has been doing a great job of presenting new comics starring The Shadow as well as reprinting some of the better material from the character’s run at DC. I am really hoping that they also reprint the excellent mini-series that Dark Horse put out around the time of the film.
In the wake of 1989’s successful Batman film, studios started taking comic book ideas and superheroes a little more seriously……with mixed results. 1994 brought us The Crow, The Mask, (the unfortunate) Blankman and The Shadow.
Helmed by Highlander director Russell Mulcahy and starring Alec Baldwin, Penelope Ann Miller and John Lone, The Shadow was fairly well regarded at the time but got completely lost in the shuffle of summer releases. Two weeks before saw the release of The Lion King (which became the highest grossing animated film of all time until 2002’s Finding Nemo), the same day saw the release of the fairly decent action drama Blown Away, and a few days after, Forest Gump was released into the world. It was a big couple of weeks at the box office and like it’s namesake, the film just kind of lurked in the shadows.
But many kids my age went on to discover the movie when it hit VHS and found something fantastic. The film was stylized superhero romp that showcased a great script by David Koepp as well as strong performances from Baldwin and Lone and a fantastic supporting cast featuring the likes of Ian McKellen, Tim Curry, Jonathan Winters, and Peter Boyal. Stellar actors in well written parts.
Combining elements from the pulp, radio show and comic book versions of The Shadow, the film gives us the origin of The character as he battles would be world conqueror Shiwan Khan. The film is a joy to watch and was so well written that it doesn’t feel dated.
But for those of us who love High Definition, we’ve been kind of left out in the cold for a few years. The film got a DVD release followed by a fairly lacklustre Blu-ray release. Where was our great transfer? Where was our extras? Where was the respect that this film deserved?
Shout Factory, who has quickly become a leader in re-releasing older films with solid transfers and extras (check out their recent releases of Assault on Precinct 13 and Darkman), heard our cries and last week released The Shadow Collector’s Edition.
A great improvement in picture quality, the colours and shadows of the Collector’s Edition stand out well. Due to the time period it was made, The Shadow was one of the last action films to use matte paintings in a huge way as well as stop motion effects. Matte lines and effect artifacts have been drastically reduced and in some cases, completely eliminated but with enough grain in the picture to keep the look and feel of “film” intact. The sound is also kept well with the Shadow’s voice throwing being a neat little effect.
In terms of extras, it doesn’t have the cornucopia that usually accompanies Shout releases but it does have a great little look back segment with recent interviews from Alec Baldwin, Penelope Ann Miller, David Koepp and Russell Mulcahy. Everyone has fond memories of the film (although I’m not entirely convinced Baldwin remembers making the film beyond Koepp’s script). It runs about twenty minutes and it’s an interesting look back at the movie. That said, a director’s commentary would have been nice too.
Is this this Blu-ray worth your money? YES! In fact, after you’re done reading this review, go out and buy it. Prove to Shout Factory that it was worth their time and hopefully we’ll get more releases like it.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!