"The Shadow" was originally set to be one of the big Summer pictures in 1994, but audiences didn't seem to warm to it too well. It's technically quite good, especially for 6 years ago, but the film itself has some problems in the parts, not the presentation. I liked the dark, noir look and tone of the film, but occasionally, it takes itself a little too seriously when spouting some silly dialogue.
The film opens up with Baldwin playing a drug lord whose real name is Lamont Cranston. The film offers a couple of scenes of his evil ways before a priest comes to show him redemption - whether he likes it or not. The film then jumps to New York City, where Lamont has taken on the alter ego of the Shadow, a crime fighter who can "cloud men's minds" with his powers.
The villian of the film, we learn, is Shiwan Khan, the last decendant of Ghengis Khan. His intent is to use a scientist(Ian McKellen) to create a bomb to use against the city - but, of course, not if the Shadow can find him first. Romance comes in the form of the scientist's daughter(Penelope Ann Miller...whatever happened to her?), who becomes an assistant to the Shadow to help track down Khan.
If only it didn't take so long. The film needs a sharper, faster pace. Although the sets look wonderful, some of the visual effects are not - and end up looking a little silly. Although I suppose for 1994, they were pretty much as good as it gets. Baldwin is perfect for the Shadow, although the film gives him too little to do. It makes for a passable couple hours, but "The Shadow" could have been a lot better, had some focus been given to the story/script.
VIDEO: Unfortunately, this is yet another one of the early titles that Universal released only in pan&scan editions. Why? I suppose, only "The Shadow" knows. As pan&scan goes, it's unfortunate that there is definitely information lost in this image. As for the quality itself, it's flawed but not that bad, similar to the quality of another Universal pan&scan effort - "Liar, Liar". Sharpness is adequate, although some scenes seem a little bit on the softer side. Detail is similar, looking good not great. Colors are warm when they make an appearance, but seem subdued in some scenes in the film, by intent. Flesh tones remain accurate and natural.
Although again, it's unfortunate that the film is only in pan&scan, there are some other notable problems. There is some slight pixelation at times, and occasional shimmer; there are also a couple of minor marks and scratches on the print used. The picture occasionally has a bit of a "rough" look to it. Not unwatchable, but like a couple of other early universal titles, this could have been given a much better presentation.
SOUND: I was very entertained by the sound that the DTS version of "The Shadow" offered. Although I haven't heard the Dolby Digital version, the DTS version offers a very enjoyable experience. Although admittedly there are quite a few scenes that are simply dialogue, once the action begins, the sound really opens up well. Surround use is very effective, especially during the more intense scenes. When "The Shadow" laughs while confronting the villians, the sound echoes nicely from all sides. Jerry Goldsmith's wonderful score also fills the room with excellent presence. Dialogue is clear, as well. Not an outstanding soundtrack, but still a very enjoyable one.
MENUS:: As usual with early DTS titles, menu art is basic and choices offered are limited.
EXTRAS: As with many of the early DTS releases, there are no extras on this release. The difference here is that I doubt there are any extras on the Dolby Digital release, either - so it comes down simply to which sound format you prefer.