‘The Phantom’ Review: Stay Away from Bad Guys

Posted in The Screening Room by - May 01, 2015

For Comic Book Movie Month my first review out of the gate is The Phantom. A film made in 1996, based off a long-running comic strip series, The Phantom is a classic example of early comic book cinema. It involves magic, jungle-covered islands, capitalist evil, greed, and reckless child endangerment. If you find yourself enjoying The Phantom, then there’s a whole era of cinema that you should really look in to.

The Phantom follows Kit Walker, played by Billy Zane, as he wears purple tights and defends a small pacific island from the vile forces of western civilization. When James Remar, in the role of Quill, steals an ancient skull from a long hidden cave and takes it back to New York, Kit must follow him, returning to a city he left behind years before. Kit discovers that the skull, one of three, gives the bearer of the set ultimate cosmic power. One might think of them as the predecessor to Marvel’s infinity stones. There he finds his old flame Diana, played by Kristy Swanson, and his primary enemy Xander Drax. Xander Drax is one of my favorite comic book villains. Treat Williams brings an insane disregard for human life and an excessive level of greed to the role, throwing spears through doubtful compatriots and convincing useless minions to look through booby-trapped microscopes. The film also includes appearances from Catherine Zeta-Jones, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Robert Colby.

The movie’s effects and visuals are classic late 80s, early 90s. The colors are bright and vibrant. The characters are clear and obvious. The soundtrack is adventurous when it is non-diagetic, and mostly made of orchestral pieces when it isn’t. Nearly every special effect is practical, done with make up, costumes, and camera work.

The Phantom is a simple film, with little in the way of complex character development or critical acclaim. However, it is a legitimately fun movie, with humor, action, and interesting special effects. If you’re a fan of The Phantom, old school Batman, Howard the Duck, or the classic TMNT films, then you’ll love The Phantom.

Final Say: Watch It (P.S. Do not watch the sequel.)

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Born in Arizona, he currently resides in Denton, Texas. When he isn't watching movies he's playing board games and drinking whatever he can get his hands on. John watches Djimon Honsou movies because he likes Spawn, which had Michael Jai White.
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