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The Phantom (1996)

1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Simon Wincer

This plain-vanilla version of the old Lee Falk comic strip stars Billy Zane as a 1930s incarnation of the Phantom, an African-based, masked hero whose forefathers have all donned the costume at one time or another. Sworn to crush evil, the Phantom leaves … see full wiki

Tags: Movie
Director: Simon Wincer
1 review about The Phantom (1996)

A Wonderful Adventure Tale

  • Jul 5, 2006
It doesn't surprise me that "The Phantom" failed at the box office. It lacked the star power of other films of that time, relied on the name recognition of a hero who isn't as flashy as Batman, Spiderman, or a multitude of other characters, and, honestly, it wasn't summer blockbuster material. Perhaps if it came out in the dead of winter when most studios toss out their artsy flicks hoping for Oscar recognition, it would have done better.

With that said, I have to admit that "The Phantom" is a wonderful flick to watch. Granted, it doesn't have flying heroes or webslingers, but it does have a wonderful story to it in the classic vein of those old 1930's cliffhangers. Billy Zane is game as Kit Walker/Phantom. He has that classic Hollywood look to him that makes him perfect for the role. Kristy Swanson (the original Buffy) does a wonderful job as Diane Palmer, the damsel in not-so-much-distress. Catherine Zeta Jones, James Remar, and the underrated Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa head up a stellar supporting cast. The real "treat" here, however, is Treat Williams as Xander Drax, the evil mastermind behind all of the Phantom's problems in this film. He's completely over the top, delivering smug lines like, "Show me the power!" with enough cinematic flair that you can't help but love his devilish character.

The story involves the search for three skulls: one of bronze, one of jade, and one of gold, that will give their owner ultimate power. Drax, being the power-hungry man that he is, is on the hunt for these three skulls. The only things in his way are the Sang Brotherhood, who are responsible for creating the Phantom many centuries ago, and the Phantom himself. The tale bounces from the lush jungles of Africa (but actually Australia and the backlots of California) to the mean streets of 1930's New York City, and then to the dreaded Devil's Vortex. It's full of swashbuckling, gunplay, high adventure, and a few explosions.

The cinematography is brilliant, capturing the beauty of the Australian locations it was filmed on. The blues and greens fill the TV screen wonderfully, and the vibrant purple of Phantom's suit supplies a wonderful contrast to the deep greens and browns of the jungles.

Overall, there isn't too much that's offensive in this flick for youngsters. The language does get a little bit strong for the younger lot, but if you let your kids watch recent the recent PG-13 hero flicks, I'm sure they can handle this one. There is quite a bit of violence, including a couple of impalings, but all of it is done in a way that is no worse than most other superhero films.

I highly recommend this flick to fans of films like "The Shadow" and "The Rocketeer," as well as most other superhero flicks. It might take awhile to get beyond the VERY purple outfit that our hero wears in this flick, but it's all played out with great intentions and a nod to the classic cliffhangers from long ago.
A Wonderful Adventure Tale A Wonderful Adventure Tale A Wonderful Adventure Tale

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