Review Detail

9.4 12 10
FanFix April 27, 2013 3064
(Updated: July 13, 2013)
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The Shadow Strikes!
Bionic Bob edit

A slew of retro movies came out in the 90s, doubtless inspired by the Indiana Jones series. Where the Jones’ movies were rooted in action oriented cliffhangers, the 90s era films, Dick Tracy, The Phantom, Rocketeer, and The Shadow, among others, harked back to 30s pulps and comics. I saw the later films theatrically and was disappointed by each. Eventually, I bought Tracy and Shadow on laserdisc for a buck each.

The Shadow could have, and ought to have been, an excellent ride. Alec Baldwin had more screen charisma in his role than Beatty, Zane, Campbell, or much later, Jude Law. He and Penelope Miller also sparked undeniable chemistry, perhaps not romantic, but they definitely worked as a couple. Then there was the set design and costumes, all top notch.

Unfortunately, the movie was undermined by poor writing and sloppy direction. The Shadow seemed aimed at eight year olds, circa 1950s. The narrative was gauzed in fuzzy, misplaced nostalgia. No one bought in, not adults, not teens, not children. By the 90s, we were all much too sophisticated.

Bionic Bob has done a remarkable job, raising the enjoyment several levels. The black and white sheen is perfect, not only with the Manhattan set design, but with characters, especially in gowns and tuxedos. What cuts Bob made, I could not tell, yet the narrative flows quicker and seems less silly than I remember.

The sound mix was a dynamic, often aggressive, two channel LPCM. Too loud during action sequences (drew comments from others in the room), too quiet with dialogue. I ended up using headphones. I hate suggesting this, especially as a music geek, but I think normalized audio might have worked here.

The black and white seemed inconsistent. Pristine sharp in some scenes, soft focus in others, and scratchy and dirty in others. I didn’t mind, but every time a scratch appeared I noticed.

Aside from those quibbles, BB’s The Shadow Strikes! is a classy improvement, easily recommended.

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