The Shadow finds himself up against his arch-enemy, Shiwan Kahn, who is threatening New York City and the world with his new atomic bomb. The Shadow has to try to save the day (and the world) using his unique powers of invisibility and mind-confusion.
Slinking on to the screens just after The Mask and The Crow, which are much hipper, and a few years after Batman and Dick Tracy, which were based on much more famous heroes, The Shadow became the next masked avenger to be reincarnated as a big budget live-action hero. A mysterious vigilante with the power to cloud minds to make himself seem invisible and who knew what evil lurks in the hearts of men, the Shadow was originally a 30s radio character (voiced by a young Orson Welles) and pulp magazine hero.
This lavish adventure opens with an origin story set in the late 30s and starring opium lord Alec Baldwin who turns good under the tutelage of a mystic Tibetan guru and returns to New York. Posing as an idle playboy a la Bruce Wayne, Lamont Cranston (Baldwin) fights crime while wearing a natty hat and a false beak, employing a network of agents to terrorise the mob. He still finds time to romance telepathic sweetie Margo Lane (Miller), whose crusty old scientist dad (Ian McKellen) has just invented an atom bomb which is in danger of falling into the hands of Shiwan Khan (Lone), the last descendent of Genghis Khan.
It evokes the conventions and charms of 30s pulp fiction in rather more nostalgic mode than Quentin Tarantino, and is a pleasant, eye-pleasing movie, but, after Brandon Lees zombie rock star and Jim Carreys green-headed toon, the mysterious Baldwin seems somewhat grandfatherly and remote.
The film has a wonderful super-production look and Baldwins Shadow breezes through via nifty invisible effects, but the plot never really gels, and for an action fantasy is rather cold