Like the annoying chatterbox you’re forced to take to the school formal, I so wanted to like Russell Mulcahy’s early 90’s take on pulp-serial “The Shadow” but the truth is, I couldn’t wait to get out of the Greater Union Cinema there in Russell Street – and considering I didn’t wiggle, sigh or take a toilet-break once through John Badham’s “Drop Zone”, nor the ill-fated “Beverly Hills Cop 3”, that’s saying something.
While the casting was apt (Alec Baldwin as The Shadow, Penelope Anne Miller as his sidekick Margo Lane, and John Lone as Shiwan Khan), the special effects were ‘cool’ (is that still an “in” word?), and Stephen H.Burum’s “Batman”-esque cinematography looked rather ‘pretty’, David Koepp’s script seemed much more interested in the toys of it’s titular character, than the character of himself – in turn resulting in the cinematic equivalent of a cheap can of soft drink – pretty and appealing on the outside, rather untasty and forgettable on the inside. I don’t think I’d ever watch it again.
It’s a pity, because there was some great source material to draw from – it was originally a 1930’s radio play, then a series of comic books and comic strips.
If anyone can make a good flick out of “The Shadow” it’d be Sam Raimi. Raimi actually tried to get the rights to the property in the late ’80s, but didn’t succeed, ultimately resulting in the similar-themed “Darkman” starring Liam Neeson as Shadow-esque masked vigilante, Peyton Westlake. Since then, Raimi’s become quite the name, and has had no trouble convincing the powers-that-be to let him make a “Shadow” movie. And as of last count, he was onboard to ‘produce’ (with Michael Usland) said film…. but did you know Raimi’s also considering directing it?
According to IESB, now that Raimi’s off “Spider-Man”, he’s looking for another superhero flick to tango with – and seems “The Shadow” is wearing the right shoes.
“We are hearing from our sources that Raimi is itching to get back in the director’s chair ASAP and wants “The Shadow” to be his next directorial feature. He loves the character and flipped over this latest draft.”
Oh, the ‘latest draft’ says the site, is quite terrific. They note : “The action is balanced and… you really care about the two main characters which is most important in any form of written or visual media. I think the general public seeing The Shadow on screen for the first time would be akin to the first time they laid eyes on Blade or Nolan’s Batman in “Batman Begins”. You get that sense of wonder just from reading Farahanl’s descriptions of the character and that world of mystery never fails you as you reach the end of the journey”.
Thing is, like “Spider-Man”, “The Shadow” is set up at Sony (the first film was made at Universal) – and considering Raimi’s troubles with Amy Pascal of late (ultimately resulting in the prolific filmmaker quitting the money-spinning comic-book film franchise), you’ve gotta wonder whether he’ll get to do it his way, or their way. The script, says IESB, features quite a bit of “nudity” and “gore” – two things Sony, should they be planning to make a film that’ll appeal to all ages (read : tentpole), will likely want to shy away from.
Let’s see how this pans out.