The Phantom, descendent of a line of African superheroes, travels to New York City to thwart a wealthy criminal genius from obtaining three magic skulls which would give him the secret to ultimate power.
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Four hundred years ago, a young boy witnessed his father's death during an attack on their ship by the bloodthirsty Sengh Brotherhood. He was washed ashore on Bengalla Island where he swore to devote his life to bring down piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice. He became The Phantom, a masked avenger whose role was passed down for father to son, leading people to believe in an immortal figure called "The Ghost Who Walks". The 21st successor to the role of Bengalla's resident superhero must travel to New York City to prevent a power-hungry businessman from obtaining three magic skulls that would give him the secret to ultimate power. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Billy Zane shaved his head to get the Phantom's cowl to fit as close as possible. This necessitated all his scenes where he is out-of-costume with a full head of hair to be shot early in production. As a result, a scene where the Phantom removes his cowl was shot in two parts, in reverse order, several weeks apart. See more »
This 100-minute nugget of superhero charm was a lot more fun than I had expected. I subscribe to Netflix, the mail-in rental service, so I had forgotten which movie I had coming next. I groaned slightly when I saw The Phantom was it.
I started watching, feeling that I was going to be in for a dud. About a week ago, I rented The Rocketeer---a mildly entertaining movie with some good moments, but didn't really add up to a DVD purchase or repeat viewings. I thought I was in for more of the same, but alas.
The Phantom had all the charm, action and humor missing from Rocketeer.
I particularly enjoyed the two leads. Billy Zane delivered the one-liners with aplomb. He has the swagger, voice, demeanor and charm to carry the role successfully. He transcends a rather mundane superhero outfit. Treat Williams gave an amusing turn as the villainous Xander Drax, ("Starts and ends with X.") Not the typically evil superhero nemesis, he's more of a lighthearted villain in the "Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor" mold, but his line delivery is spot on.
The movie definitely comes alive with the characterizations, a feel of a time and place early in the 20th century, and always on the move, but not too much in a hurry to make you enjoy these characters. I rather liked the idea of a superhero with a pet horse and wolf.
I'm not sure I've seen a recent superhero film that strikes a perfect balance of action, humor, sets and characters. Enough humor to keep me smiling throughout, but mildly serious enough to engage me for the duration.
Definitely worth a look for those who haven't seen it, and a future addition to my DVD collection.
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