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The 21st successor to the role of Bengalla's resident superhero must travel to New York to prevent a rich madman from obtaining three magic skulls that would give him the secret to ultimate power. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Heroism Is Now Fantasy (and that's just unrealistic!)
It's hard to believe that a movie that so hits the mark set by its original intentions can receive some of the stupid, silly and brainless reviews seen in these pages. This is a movie based on the original comic book hero, so yes, we have a character in a costume. If that's a problem for you because it's "unrealistic", well what would be realistic for you? Lots of blood, sex with movie-star-hot men or women, big explosions, exit wounds? Lots of that in your everyday life, I assume? And yes, a lot of fantastic, unrealistic things happen in this film, which may also pose a problem for you if your sense of wonder is limited to things like who is going to win the next Survivor. Yet all of these fantastic unrealistic things are all directly related to the concepts of heroism and villainy.
This entire movie is about heroes and villains, right down to the cab driver. It is not about how Billy Zane looks in purple spandex, or how hot the female leads are, or how much you hate Treat Williams' over-the-top performance, or how you think it "rips off" Indiana Jones (funny, I'm pretty sure Jones was a nod, in part, to the Phantom!). If these are your only reactions after watching this movie then you have indeed wasted your time. Fortunately, time like yours isn't very valuable when you would probably rather waste it spending days playing the next version of Grand Theft Auto.
The Phantom revisits the concept of heroes. I'm not talking about people like Vin Diesel, Pamela Anderson, 50 Cent, or this year's American Idol. Heroes are people who have character, integrity, morality, and courage; people who stand for, and stand up for, what is right. With so little of this in the world around us today, I guess it's not surprising that so many people have a problem with the concept. These days the hero is the person who can kill the most opponents (I can't call them "bad guys" here), screw over the most people, get the most toys, or have sex with the hottest hotties. Basically, we now equate heroism with personal gain and success.
The Phantom, like all true heroes, does what he does because it is the right thing to do, not because he stands to gain from it. He is capable of performing selfless acts that can make a difference for the better, and on top of that, he does so anonymously! How often do you see that in today's society? Drax is a villain because he is the villain, not because we see him slaughtering innocents or committing some other purely evil crime. We don't need to see Singh's band blow up a ship full of people with body parts flying in slow motion to understand they are also villains. It might require a bit of imagination, which also seems to be in short supply these days, but the idea is that they are as bad as you can imagine them to be. Once again that sense of wonder has to come into play. The only thing I'm left wondering is how anyone who sat down to watch this movie couldn't have known this.
In a nutshell: The Phantom is a comic book character movie wherein the hero wears a cool purple costume and performs fantastic acts of heroism, gets the girl of his dreams, and defeats evil by being a paragon of virtue and valor. It is fun for all ages; the six kids that sat in front of me at the theatre had a blast, and my mother likes it too. The character's creator apparently approved of this film despite its slight deviations from the printed version. And I give this movie with heart and soul a 10 out of 10.
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