Howdy people of the north, south, east and west, and welcome to Day #20 of Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best, average and worst comic book adapted films. Today I’m talking about The Shadow.
This is a film I’m not sure if I’ve heard of prior to starting this month of reviews. I possibly may have seen in it in Alec Baldwin’s filmography at one point or another, but for most part I’d never heard of this film and have never heard it mentioned in the history of superhero films (at least the popular version of the superhero genre). So I was super curious to see what kind of film it would be.
The story can be summed up as the following:
“In 30’s New York City, the Shadow battles his nemesis, Shiwan Khan, who is building an atomic bomb.”
The story is quite good. I felt like this was a cross between Batman and James Bond, but with a supernatural twist to it. This has elements of a comic book film, but feels more like a supernatural action film that focuses on a tale of evil that lurks in the hearts of men and in this case it’s mainly between the hero and villain. The concept of the Shadow, his history and his powers are intriguing to me and the way the film gives you the information on him is quite good, I just wish that the film had taken a slightly darker/serious approach as it would have added more dramatic layers to character.
Now let’s talk about the cast. Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston/The Shadow is really good. Lamont is a very unassuming man and comes across a cool, if somewhat absent-minded gentlemen to the public, but secretly he’s smart, sophisticated and has skeletons in his closet. As the Shadow is a symbol of fear and illusion and I love how he plays with his enemies and takes them out tactically. That being said, sometime his level of intelligence is questionable as he makes rookie errors while fighting certain people which really shouldn’t happen considering his stealthy persona. Baldwin is charming and intimidating in this role, though sometimes his performance can be a little too hammy for my liking. John Lone as Shiwan Khan is great, he’s a descendant of Genghis Khan and is quite articulate and civil for a villain, while his plans are standard evil fare, he has a much nicer and calmer demeanour than the average villain. He’s approachable, calculated and can switch from being nice and calm to being really aggressive quite quickly.
Penelope Ann Miller is also good as Margo Lane, besides being absolutely stunning, Margo has telepathic abilities and is a strong-willed individual that made her a very interesting and more fun to watch than your standard damsel in distress or love interest. Ian McKellen was lovely as Dr. Reinhardt Lane, he’s Margo’s father and a scientist who’s quite forgetful but also brilliant. Though his screen time wasn’t as big as the other main characters, McKellen was great and it was just surprising to see him in a film like this. Oh and Tim Curry as Farley Claymore, that was great. Curry is one of those actors that if you stick him in any role, you’ll remember him afterward and that’s definitely the case here. I liked how his character was a little more normal than some of this other roles, he’s funny, charismatic, a bit of a douche but a likeable one, but there are also moments where the guy goes crazy and you see that Curry style of performance that you know and love. I couldn’t shake the feeling that Curry reminded me a lot of Eddie Izzard in this film. I also liked Peter Boyle as Moses “Moe” Shrevnitz, Jonathan Winters as Wainwright Barth and James Hong as Li Peng.
Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is really nice, there’s a great use of colour, low lighting and the special effects are pretty good too. I also liked the 1930’s aesthetic, it was recreated well and fit really well with the supernatural happenings that took place. The one thing that bugged me was the make up used for Baldwin’s face as the Shadow, it was so off-putting to me. As for the soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith, he composes a score that is really cool, dramatic and fits the action on-screen, it feels in line with a superhero film.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? Well I’ve never read any of the comics this film is based on so I can’t comment on that unfortunately.
So to conclude The Shadow is a pretty good film. It has a lot of the codes and conventions I look for in a comic book film like action, mystery, cool main characters and an intriguing story. I think with a bit of tweaking to the story and a focus on the darker and psychological aspects of the hero and villain, this film could have been great. But as it stands it is an interesting film which I would love to see a remake of because with today’s world of superhero films this kind of property could really shake things up a bit.
That’s 20 reviews done, now we’re down to the last 10! So have you seen The Shadow and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!