The Shadow (1994)
|Year Of Production||1994|
|Running Time||102:46 (Case: 101)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Russell Mulcahy|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Penelope Ann Miller
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The movie opens somewhere in the opium fields of Tibet where Ying Ko (Alec Baldwin) is a bad, bad drug lord. He is kidnapped by a mystic, who informs him that it is time to pay the piper - he is condemned to roam the earth seeking out those with hearts as black as his own to punish them.
Fast forward seven years, and Ying Ko has resumed his former identity of rich playboy Lamont Cranston, but with one small change - he is now The Shadow, and upon donning his signature scarf, hat, cape, and somewhat larger nose, he has the ability to "cloud men's minds", that is, become invisible but for his shadow.
Swanning around drinking martinis at the Cobalt Club, Cranston meets the somewhat telepathic Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller), daughter of a scientist working for the war department (Sir Ian McKellen). Next up comes his nemesis, and he is none other than the last remaining descendant of Gengis Kahn, Shiwan Kahn (John Lone) who has an even stronger control over the minds of men. He recruits the scientist and his assistant (Tim Curry) to build, you guessed it, an atom bomb, and he proceeds to hold the city to ransom. The rest is strictly by the numbers (including the obligatory plot holes), and before you know it, the movie's over and if you weren't taking notes like I was, you've forgotten what it was all about.
Alec Baldwin (The Hunt For Red October) cuts a fine figure as Lamont Cranston: all stylish good looks and excellent wardrobe, and although his Shadow is suitably heroic, his portrayal of Lamont Cranston is a little too gormless. John Lone (The Last Emperor) gets to dress in some pretty funky Mongol costumes, and he hams it up, but his villain also has no real personality, and a "fiendish plan" which quite frankly sucks. Penelope Ann Miller (Carlito's Way) for me is the quintessential 30s dame, with her full, red lips and porcelain skin, but at the risk of droning on... the script lets her down, too.
In support, Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) is suitably bug-eyed as the sycophantic "Number 2", but again, he looks the part but unfortunately hasn't been given much of one. As the obligatory bumbling scientist, Sir Ian McKellen (Richard III) could have done with quite a few more pages of script, and Peter Boyle (Red Heat) suffers a similar fate as The Shadow's trusty driver.
Director Russell Mulcahy (Highlander) gives us a great-looking movie with lashings of his trademark stylistic direction, but unfortunately there's no substance: the talent was there, and with some decent material to work with, The Shadow could have escaped the perennial problems that seem to plague movies of this genre.
Shadow detail was reasonably good, and this is of great importance in a movie that is essentially a noir piece. Low level noise was absent. There is, though, a strange phenomenon that occurs in certain shots where The Shadow is about to strike someone, and he is but a "cloud". A heavy grain becomes apparent, and colours become a little oversaturated. It is difficult to determine whether this is a problem (or a desired effect) of the source material, but on balance I would say it is related to the source as it occurs with regularity when the "cloud" effect is utilized. The first of these instances occurs at 10:49, and it happens again a couple of times at around the 51:00 mark, and again wherever the effect is used. More "regular" type grain appears at about 7:30 to 12:00.
Showing off the gorgeous art direction, colours were represented beautifully. From the bright yellows of The Shadow's trusty cab, to the deep blood reds of Penelope Ann Miller's lipstick, the art deco world of the 30s is brought to life faithfully.
Film artefacts are an almost constant problem with this transfer, and this is unacceptable coming from source material of such recent vintage. At 27:25, there is a thick smattering of black film artefacts for about 10 seconds, and then again at 28:55 and yet again at 80:28. There are many more less distracting instances of such artefacts throughout the remainder of the feature. Aliasing becomes apparent, but when it does, it is only slight in nature. The most notable of these instances are at 27:25 on some Venetian blinds, 22:55 on some garage doors, and at 33:08 on a taxi's front grille.
This disc is stated to be RSDL formatted, but much to my frustration I couldn't spot the layer change.
I had no problem understanding any of the dialogue, however on a couple of occasions The Shadow's booming laugh was on the edge of distortion: it slipped over the edge a little at 11:37. Audio sync was not a problem.
The Jerry Goldsmith (The Mummy) score was suitably "super-hero", with plenty of deep, majestic brass to get the blood going.
Although lacking in the ambience department, use of the surrounds for directional effects was excellent during the action and fight scenes. Particularly notable was the voice of The Shadow (and of Kahn where appropriate), which swirled around the soundstage, as well as the odd gunshot and whoosh of crossbow fire. Outside of these scenes, however, the soundstage collapsed to pretty much stereo, despite ample opportunity to increase the immersion factor with the scenes set in restaurants and in the busy New York traffic.
The subwoofer ably supported the bassy score and assisted some of the fight scenes, but I would have liked to hear just a little more of it in the climactic scenes where a giant steel ball was bouncing around.
|Surround Channel Use|
Otherwise, the lights are on, but unfortunately there's nobody home.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||Front: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W|