After the success of the first "Batman" film as realized on the big screen by director Tim Burton in the 90s, every major studio clamored for a superhero franchise all of their own. Then still-emerging big screen idol Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock"), the most recognizable of the Baldwin Brothers -- no small thanks to his high profile Hollywood marriage to actress Kim Basinger -- landed himself what many thought would be the next big hit! But where no evil escapes the wrath of "The Shadow" -- the box office wasn’t as easy an adversary for this hero to conquer.
Singularly popularized in the classic radio show and pulp fiction, this crime-fighting vigilante didn’t benefit from the pop-culture relevance of his four-color contemporaries -- the aforementioned Batman, or the more colorful Superman. Nonetheless The Shadow’s appeal merited the character a full-on movie adaptation. In this "Collector’s Edition" Blu-ray release, true fans can enjoy the movie in a magnificent high-definition transfer, with brand new interviews with the film’s cast and director.
Taking a page from its radio roots and paying homage to Tensile Town’s glory days
"The Shadow" glamorizes in brilliant fashion -- the HD re-mastering for this edition is among one of the best examples of the magic of the medium, but story and script-wise it falls a little short of the spectacle one would want from a superhero film. The sets look flat as a comic strip, but where films like Warren Beatty’s "Dick Tracy" worked that skillfully to their advantage, here it is little more than smoke and mirrors - even if that is part of The Shadow’s super-powers. High-wiring between Batman and Indiana Jones, "The Shadow" lacks the charm and magic of either...languishing as the matinee serial it works to emulate.
The film does excel at re-creating a well-crafted homage to film noir and especially to the films of the era. If "The Shadow" were to be rebooted today -- the genre has become much more stylized -- the story would probably move at a different pace. In the film makers documentary it is clear that the goal was to make it as close to a 30’s like film as possible, but the menace of "The Shadow" is never as sumptuous as today’s three-dimensional icons.
"The Shadow: Collector’s Edition"
starring Alec Baldwin is available now on Blu-ray for $29.99