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'The Shadow'

directed by Russell Mulcahy
U.S.A. 1994

Based on the radio and pulp-magazine series of the 1930s, 'The Shadow' Universal movie never really had a chance at the box-office competing with the likes of comic book superstardom in 'Batman' or trampy Madonna in 'Dick Tracy'. Alec Baldwin is his usual arrogant self in full bravado while playing Lamont Crantson and his alter-ego 'The Shadow'. I truly enjoyed this film with limited special effects, not attempting to overshadow (pun) the narrative that harkens to that pulp era many moons ago. I was truly captivated, but it is probably showing my age so I won't recommend it to all, just those who like an innocent, young boys adventure story with mystery and a sci-fi element lurking behind every corner. Crackerjack...     

Gary W. Tooze

Posters

Theatrical Release Date: 1 July, 1994

Reviews                            More Reviews                            DVD Reviews

Comparison:

Universal - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Columbia Tri-Star - Region 2 - PAL vs. Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Shout! Factory "Collector's Edition"  - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Columbia Tri-Star - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Universal

Region 1  - NTSC

Columbia Tri-star ( through Universal) 
Region 2 - PAL
Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:47:16 1:42:44 (4% PAL speedup) 1:47:25.147 1:47:29.651 1:47:30.444
Video

1.33:1 Cropped
Average Bitrate: 4.27 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 9.4
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,788,763,544 bytes

Feature: 22,323,535,872 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 21.27 Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,877,577,610 bytes

Feature: 31,118,813,184 bytes

Codec: VC-1 Video

Total Video Bitrate: 31.55 Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 37,990,117,556 bytes

Feature: 31,015,378,944 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Universal

 

Bitrate:

Columbia

CTS R2

 

Bitrate: Koch Media

Blu-ray

 

Bitrate: Universal

Blu-ray

Bitrate: Shout! Factory

Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)

English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2232 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2232 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 2221 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2221 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio German 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4253 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4253 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4226 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4226 kbps /
24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2077 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2077 kbps /
24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles Spanish, English (captions) and none English, French, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, Dutch, Turkish and none German and none English (SDH), Spanish and none English (SDH), and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Color, Closed-captioned, Dolby
• Full-screen format

DVD Release Date: January 5, 1999
Keep Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Columbia Tri-Star Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1


Discographic Information:
DVD Encoding: Region 2
Layers: Dual

DVD Release Date: 21 August, 2000
Keep Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Koch Media

 

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 24,788,763,544 bytes

Feature: 22,323,535,872 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 21.27 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
 Making of (9:20)
• Interviews (Baldwin - 3:05, Miller - 1:40, Winters - 1:38, Lone - 2:05, plus director - 1:39, the writer 1:33 and the producer 2:32)

• Behind the Scenes (18:49)

• Music Video (5:24)

• 4 TV Spots

• Trailers (German + English)

• 4 Galleries (Marketing, Press Photos, Behind the Scenes, Storyboards)


Blu-ray Release Date: May 6th, 2011
Standard
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Studios

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 31,877,577,610 bytes

Feature: 31,118,813,184 bytes

Codec: VC-1 Video

Total Video Bitrate: 31.55 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
 
none


Blu-ray Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio:
Shout! Factory

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 37,990,117,556 bytes

Feature: 31,015,378,944 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 30.00 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
 Looking Back at The Shadow (23:44)
 Theatrical Trailer (1:57)
 Photo Gallery


Blu-ray Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 16

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - February 2014':  The new Shout! Factory release is quite different. It appears to have some DNR-type softening and skin tones are significantly warmer. I was anticipating this transfer to be similar to the other 2, imperfect, Blu-rays, but it has moved in another direction - the extreme away from the, different flaws, of its US counterpart.  It also has a blue bias although colors are richer (ex. Baldwin's suit, ruby ring and the fire). Could this be how the film looked originally? It is certainly different from the other two 1080Ps and in a few ways it is superior.  It uses the AVC - as opposed to Universal's VC-1 encode. It is 1.78:1 (opened-up) and shows a shade more information at the top and bottom. The, thinness and, compression issues and edge-enhancement that I saw in the Universal are gone (and what appeared to be artifacts) as they have been smoothed over and we lose some detail (check out the sweat that has disappeared in the very last capture!) I'm confused but I might prefer the Universal's excessive digitization issues, to the SF softening and waxy look. Yet neither are ideal. Shout! Factory have transferred as robustly as the Universal, but I'm not a fan of the smoothing and lack of detail. The image has also lost depth. On the positive it seems to have lost the green/yellow tinge that both Koch and Universal share and the Shout! Factory issue is not blanketed - appearing heavier in some scenes and barely noticeable in others.

Perhaps the Shout! Factory only looks soft as compared to the 'sharpened' Universal? I'll leave it to the reader to decide.

I can't distinguish a differences in the 5.1 audios and there are also optional English subtitles. The Shout! Factory Blu-ray disc is region 'A'-locked. Shout! Factory add an interesting 23-minute featurette "Looking Back at The Shadow" with input from many of the cast (Baldwin, Miller, director Mulcahy and writer David Koepp.)  There is also a trailer and photo gallery.

A few years ago we didn't have a 1080P of The Shadow - now we have three, different, ones! Perhaps we'll have a third Blu-ray release in North America that could best these two.

***

ADDITION: Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - May 2013':  The Universal (US) chooses the VC-1 encode and is dual-layered with a significant increase in the bitrate over the German Koch Media 1080P. It is darker, skin tones maybe be slightly warmer and I can only expect that it is the more accurate image although I do see what looks like, high frequency, edge-enhancement - with some associated artifacts when I zoom-in. It does look a bit fragile (compression issues) - colors are rich bordering on saturation. It isn't a huge difference from the region 'B' - which I still consider a, reasonably, strong image.

The audio is likewise more robust with a 5.1 via a DTS-HD Master at a whopping 4253 kbps. Separations are more evident and the wonderful "Shadow" theme has notable bass. Very nice. Optional subtitles arte available on the Region FREE Blu-ray disc.

There are no extras - nor even a static menu but it is still a film that I appreciate. Enjoy!  

***

ADDITION: Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - June 11':  I still really like this movie... and realize that I'm quite alone. It's been over 10 years since the SD discs and it's easy to see that there is vast improvement with the 1080P Blu-ray eclipsing the DVDs in every visual, aural and supplement area. I love the nice sheen of grain and the detail leaps up a few notable notches. Regarding the aspect ratio debate - it seems to be stated in most places that The Shadow was shot and shown at 1.85:1.

Jerry Goldsmith's score is dynamic and dramatically impacting in the lossless DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2232 (a German uncompressed DUB is also available). There are plenty of small separation effects and it helps with the aura. There are optional German subtitles on the region 'B'-locked disc.

There are a lot of extras - mostly press stuff for the release with a 10-minute Making of..., 20-minute Behind the Scenes, TV spots and snapshot interviews with 4 of the cast and 3 of the 'filmmakers'. There are also trailers and 4 production and marketing galleries.

What I think this film does best is capture the 30's pulpy-feel with some super set direction and costumes. Penelope Ann Miller really does embody a kind of Jean Harlow-type in The Shadow. Younger Baldwin is right in his element as the confident Cranston. I only wish it was longer or a series of films. Where it probably failed with mainstream audiences is that it stuck more faithfully to the original without succumbing to modern frivolous trappings - more credit to director Mulcahy and writer David Koepp! Most aren't fans like me - but I say absolutely recommended for this Blu-ray for Region 'B'-locked audiences.

***

ON THE DVDs: The R2 UK disc proves it was shown theatrically at 2.35:1.  The disc starts out as 2.35 and once the credits are over switches to 1.85:1.  I'm sure it's Open Matte and not cropped.  Probably shot Super 35. (Thanks Mark)

***

 I know somewhere someone had doubt thinking this film may have been shot at 2.35:1, although Imdb says 1.85 matted from a 1.37 negative. Regardless, you are losing a heck of as lot of information with the Pan and scan NTSC. Looking at the last large capture as it seems to show the best how much is being cropped out of our vision. Someone has messed with the colors and my guess is the R2 which looks a little too sepia. Overall, I don't really need to look further than the aspect ratio but the R2 anamorphic dual-layered disc is obviously sharper than the single-layered R1. The R1 also had a release of DTS sound as opposed to 5.1, but it was also Pan and Scan. I understand the image quality is the same. No extras on these DVDs, but the Region 2 has more subtitle and language choices. Go with the Region 2 (UK) for this pulpy remake between these two, but I suspect there are better versions out there, perhaps in France.

 - Gary W. Tooze

***

THE SHADOW – The ratio is absolutely 1.85 X 1 and Universal co-produced the film with a German company, and also used it as a way to further push and promote the then-new DTS format.  Te film did not fare well, but has more of a cult following than Universal realizes.  Tragically, both of these DVDs lack DTS, and the only way to get DTS was on the old full screen DVD or the letterboxed 12” LaserDisc.  This is a prime candidate for a Universal special edition with DTS (re-transferred/remastered) 5.1, a new anamorphic transfer (they support D-VHS, so why not?), and three short films featuring the character from their vaults several decades ago that the studio produced would beef up the supplements section.  Alec Baldwin is now an Oscar-nominated actor and Sir Ian McKellan is on a roll with X-MEN and LORD OF THE RINGS, so why not?

Nicholas Sheffo from FulvueDrive-In.com


DVD Menus

(Universal - R1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Columbia Tri-Star - R2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

 

Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Samples

 

1) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia Tri-Star - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 



 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia Tri-Star - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia Tri-Star - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia Tri-Star - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Universal - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Columbia Tri-Star - Region 2 - PAL - SECOND

3) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - FOURTH

5) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

1) Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Hit Counter


Report Card:

 

Image:

Koch Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-rays

Extras:

Koch Media + Shout! Factory Blu-rays

 

Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Universal

Region 1  - NTSC

Columbia Tri-star ( through Universal) 
Region 2 - PAL
Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Universal - Region FREE - Blu-ray Shout! Factory - Region 'A' - Blu-ray





 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...