The Shadow (1994)

PG-13   |    |  Action, Adventure, Crime


The Shadow (1994) Poster

In 1930s New York City, the Shadow battles his nemesis, Shiwan Khan, who is building an atomic bomb.

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  • Ian McKellen in The Shadow (1994)
  • Tim Curry and John Lone in The Shadow (1994)
  • Alec Baldwin and Jonathan Winters at an event for The Shadow (1994)
  • Alec Baldwin in The Shadow (1994)
  • Alec Baldwin in The Shadow (1994)
  • Penelope Ann Miller in The Shadow (1994)

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2 December 2000 | lethalweasel
Excellent adaptation, highly enjoyable
I don't really understand the bad rep this movie has gotten. Sure, its not "high art" (then again, Shakespeare, Dickens and Herodetus weren't meant to be, or perceived as, high art when they were written). What The Shadow was, and remains, in my eyes, is one of the best super-hero adaptations ever (the best until X-Men came out, in my opinion).

I'm not terribly familiar with the old radio drama Shadow, so I can't speak as to the details, but the feeling, the essence of the movie fits with what I've experienced. Much more importantly, it stand out well on its own.

Special effects play a major part, but are not of the over-played. Action is well done, and acting is acceptable, though rarely outstanding (the Shadow's cabbie Shrebnitz is an engrossing exception).

What really makes this movie stand out is the layering. Plots, characters, backgrounds, all are complex. The movie's basic plot is well-paced, occasionally a bit slow, but it makes up for it with the incredible wealth of details it packs in. Watching the movie, one gets the sense of an incredible amount of backstory for each character (little things, like the family life of some of the Shadow's agents, barely glimpsed, or even just the complex web of those agents across the city), or that around the corner there lies a world to explore.

This movie can be difficult to classify, which may lead to its unpopularity. Clearly its not a drama, not is it a comedy, nor even entirely an action. Scifi or fantasy are both possible descriptions, but they fail. The Shadow is comicbook style, in the truest sense of the genre. Complex characters, pull-pounding action, some jokes, some drama...it all mixes together. If you can get a bead on the style, its a very enjoyable movie, far ahead of most other super-hero films (Superman, Batman, the Phantom, etc.)

I recommend watching it, but only with an open mind.

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