Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Frank Release date: July 1, 1994 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
As a kid I would listen to Lamont Cranston and his constant and faithful companion Margo Lane defeat villains of all stripe. Their special power resided in Lamont who "had the power to cloud men's minds so they could not see him." He was The Shadow. I've been looking forward to this film for a year. What a disappointment. Director Russell Mulcahy (Highlander) treats The Shadow like some Ninja Turtle battle scene.
Why create an arch villain with the same powers as The Shadow? The fun of the Shadow and all super heroes is they can overcome anything because they are superior in some special way. Mulcahy doesn't have the feel of the dark but good Shadow who prowled around on the radio with sinister organ music playing int he background.
The film isn't a total loss, however. The art deco sets are fantastic and draw the audience back into the 1930s. Penelope Ann Miller is perfect as Margo, a little more sensual than on the radio but she fits the part perfectly. Alec Baldwin has the right look but the script doesn't give him the chance to show his movement from wealthy man-about-town to The Shadow. The first scene in New York is more typical and more enjoyable than most. The Shadow steps in as three thugs are about to throw a man into the river with cement overshoes. The Shadow simply laughs and the three lose control, shooting in every direction at that which they can't see.
Mulcahy also uses a shadow on Baldwin's face as he moves back at dinner with his police commissioner uncle (Jonathan Winters) to control the commissioner's mind in one of the most effective scenes in the film. The flooded warehouse with sniveling scientist (Tim Curry) is also vintage Shadow and worth mentioning.
Despite my disappointment, I hope there is a sequel. All the garbage of a descendant of Genghis Khan challenging the hero is over and The Shadow can get back to fighting crime. As he says, "The weed of crime bear bitter fruit, crime does not pay."