Adventures in Netflix! Episode 12: The Shadow

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Welcome to Episode 12 of Adventures in Netflix! Today I’ll be reviewing 1994’s The Shadow, which was based on the popular radio and magazine stories from the 30s and 40s of the same name.

Watching The Shadow, I was struck fairly early on by certain similarities between it and Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. In fact, throughout the entire movie I felt as though a was watching a toned down, off brand version of Batman, and I don’t mean that as a bad thing–I actually think that The Shadow is the stronger, more entertaining of the two movies.

In movieland, the streets are always wet.

Set in the 1930s, the story sees Lamont Cranston (Alec Baldwin), rich playboy by day and fedora wearing crime fighter The Shadow by night match wits, and psychic powers, against the power hungry Shiwan Khan (John Lone), the last descendant of the great Genghis Khan, as he holds New York City for ransom under the threat of an atomic bomb. Along the way Lamont must struggle with his demons, and his feelings for the beautiful, possibly psychic, Margo Lane (Penelope Ann Miller).

The mat paintings, while somewhat obvious, were beautifully done and fit perfectly with the noir/comic book aesthetics.

One of my favorite elements of The Shadow’s story is Lamont’s origin story, something the movie handles with somewhat disappointing brevity. Unlike Batman, who is the somewhat unfortunately inevitable comparison to The Shadow, Lamont is a reformed criminal, having spent several years as a ruthless drug lord in Tibet. He was” rescued” from his life of crime by a powerful monk who recognized Lamont’s potential and trained him to control his dark side and fight for justice with psychic abilities. This all makes for a somewhat more interesting character than Batman’s Bruce Wayne, though admittedly the movie doesn’t do as much with it as it could have.

The ever brilliant Alec Baldwin as Lamont Cranston.

Nevertheless, The Shadow is a thoroughly entertaining superhero movie with a silly but fun comic book story and a cast of great characters played by an excellent group of actors.

"Look into my eyes and despair, petty mortal!"

I also thought the music was pretty good, occasionally a bit loud or overbearing, but always fitting.

If you like superhero and or comic book movies, The Shadow is definitely one of the better ones out there, and well worth a checking out  if you haven’t seen it already.

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