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The Phantom
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Phantom More at IMDbPro »

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90 out of 103 people found the following review useful:

Heroism Is Now Fantasy (and that's just unrealistic!)

10/10
Author: woody0023 from United States
9 January 2006

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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73 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

good old fashioned ripping yarn

7/10
Author: lindaochopper from ireland
16 December 2004

I watched this movie on TV last night and found it great fun.In the best sense of the word.

Old fashioned film making, good guys and bad guys, clearly defined and a good tale, well told. OK there were flaws in there also(mainly the interior set pieces which look like sound stages), but they should be overlooked, as its not a serious film and is not pretending to be anything other than it is. Its a fantasy/adventure film, in the best tradition, the kind they don't make anymore,no special effects, to speak of, but good action, wonderful locations and some good acting, for this genre.

I expect in this day of high tech special effects, it may seem less alluring to the more high tech minded but if your looking for some good old fashioned fun, this is one to watch. Not my favorite film, by any means but worth a look and deserves more than 5 out of 10, I give it 7 and hope somebody enjoys it for what it is, rather than what they feel it should be.

A film for the family to enjoy on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

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63 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

A pleasant surprise

8/10
Author: EnriqueH from Miami, Fl.
18 March 2005

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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52 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

Harmless Old-Fashioned Comic Book Adventure

8/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
2 July 2006

An old-fashioned adventure yarn is the best description of this modern-day comic book-hero-come to life-story. This almost like one of those early Tim Burton directed-Batman type adventures without all the darkness. The language is mild (as it should be in these type of films), the special-effects are decent and the sound is good. Best of all is the scenery, some beautiful landscapes filmed in Thailand and Australia.

Instead of the city being where our comic book hero performs his heroics, this is out in the jungle, more like an Indiana Jones-type story. It's fast-moving, it's hokey, it's unrealistic but its generally fun to watch. Even the villain ("Xander Drax" played by Treat Williams) isn't really all nasty.

The Phantom (Billy Zane) has the normal off-and-on corny romance situation with feminist-journalist (does Hollywood know any other kind?) "Diana Palmer" (Kristy Swanson) and the film gives you an entertaining 100 minutes. It's no award-winner but at least it's something you watch with your kids.

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32 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Comic Book Heroes

6/10
Author: artzau from Sacramento, CA
13 January 2002

There's always a danger in bringing comic book heroes to the screen in that most are pretty bad. Some are satisfying, e.g., the Batman and Superman films come to mind. But, the Phantom was essentially a strip comic by Lee Falk that I used to read as a kid and which had been around long before me (I'll be 65 this year). I remember seeing the serial at the Saturday morning matinees and loved the comic strip. Time passes and the Phantom faded and then, in 1993, I went to Somalia as a consultant during the UNITAF occupation and was billeted with the Aussies. To my amazement, I discovered the Phantom was not only alive and well Down Under, but there were active comic books cults, conventions and the like there as well. So, no wonder the film enjoyed a revival of a defunct strip but, alas, there is much to be desired in the effort and the final product is almost a parody of the original. My wife and I saw it for a bargain matinee and I enjoyed it. However, I suffer few illusions that it could not have been done better. It was a romp and maybe, as one reviewer noted, Catherine Zeta-Jones was worth the price of admission. Well, for my part, I liked young Billy Zane's Phantom with the sheepish grin, Treat Williams's sardonic evil smile and Christy Swanson's Diana, a pleasant departure from her Vampire staking role as Buffy. It was also good to see Patrick McGoohan, former Secret Agent Man as the Phantom's predecessor. I think this film is worth the price of a rental for a rainy afternoon.

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39 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Great action movie.

8/10
Author: donahue-1 from Arizona
9 July 2003

Having grown up with Lee Falk's "The Phantom" in the Sunday comic strip - I found this to be a very enjoyable action movie - - and much superior to the 1943 Tom Tyler version.

I totally agree with a previous comment - that had this movie been released ten years earlier - during the Indiana Jones years - it would have fared much better at the box office.

The action sequences were second to none - but were diluted by an attempt to introduce too many "story lines" into the plot. Perhaps this was an attempt to appeal to too wide of an audience - in which case it suffered the fate of appealing to too few. Perhaps one story line of the phantom vs the Sengh brotherhood would have fared better.

The actors/actresses were not at fault in that the acting was excellent. However the appearance of weak acting - was in my opinion - due to the film not being able to carry the momentum of the action and suspense of the opening scenes - and as stated - having too many story lines to present a smooth continuum of action and suspense.

All-in-all an excellent light hearted action film.

Congratulations to the producers who created a worthy big screen version of Lee Falk's "The Ghost Who Walks" - and Billy Zane who breathed life into the character.

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37 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

A Wonderful Pulp Adventure

Author: Mike Resnick from Cincinnati, OH.
2 June 1999

Though taken, almost literally, from the comic strip, this wonderful film comes across more as a pulp magazine adventure, a delightful period piece with a noble hero, spunky heroine, great primary and secondary villains, and some breathtaking stunts and location shots. Treat Williams makes a marvelous villain, and James Remar, an underrated actor, plays his henchman, an Indiana Jones gone wrong. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the villainess, and Billy Zane seems to have been born to play The Phantom. Nice cameos by Patrick McGoohan and a New York cabbie. I said it once, but it's worth repeating: fabulous stunts. Well directed, well paced, a triumph of adventure film-making.

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30 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Really, it's good fun !

9/10
Author: Lori S
18 December 1998

Reminiscent of "The Rocketeer." I wasn't going to see this at first, the comic strip did nothing for me. But the newspaper reviews were quite positive. Billy Zane is enjoyable in the role, and he worked his butt off to get those muscles. That's no fake padding in his suit!! This is a chance to see a pre-"Mask of Zorro" Catherine Zeta-Jones as the bad girl, altho her switch to the good side late in the film is unconvincing. Kristy Swanson is also good fun. I even liked James Remar as Quill - he mostly does TV series now. Beautiful filming locations and a snappy, crisp story line. It's a fun movie - try it & see!

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32 out of 46 people found the following review useful:

The best superhero movie made to date.

Author: spcglider from Minneapolis
11 December 2000

If you go to a superhero movie and you have problems with guys wearing tight spandex, then you'd better just close your eyes. Superheroes wear tight clothes...get over it. I think one of the best parts of this film is that they make very little reference to it. The Henson Creature Shop did an excellent job re-creating the look of the classic Phantom character while giving it just a bit more style. As for the characters, they were light and enjoyable. They don't need to be "deep" or meaningful..they need to be comic characters and they succeeded admirably. The plot was simple, but engaging and the villains were perfect, no good, evil comic book baddies. This is a great movie to give you the feel for what the real old adventure serials were about.

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32 out of 47 people found the following review useful:

Batman meets Raiders of the Lost Ark

Author: vwolak from Green Bay, WI
7 May 2003

This is a very enjoyable movie, enough action to keep interest, yet clean enough and without gory violence for the kids.

I used to enjoy following the comic serial in the local paper when I was younger. It was discontinued in my local paper a long time ago, but it was refreshing to see this theatrical adaptation made to possibly renew interest in this ancient hero, especially to the younger crowd.

This is Billy Zane's shining moment in theater because #1, he did not have quite a big role in Titanic, and #2, he was such a dink in that movie anyway.

Treat Williams gives the best effort in this movie IMHO, it is a bit overacted, but he maintains the balance between humor and being dastardly evil.

The basic premise of the movie, to Phantom newcomers, is that The Phantom is a superhero that fights for what is right in the African Jungle. The Phantom is called the Ghost who Walks, because he has survived for 400 years. Little does anyone know that the Phantom lives on because each Phantom grooms his son to take the mantle of the Phantom should the present Phantom faces an untimely death. Unique to most superheroes, he uses guns, yet he makes every effort to not kill anyone he apprehends. He resides in the Skull Cave (Wonder if the makers of the Masters of the Universe owes Lee Falk some chunka chunka for this idea). The Phantom has the loyalty of many of the natives that reside in the jungle and receives much assistance from them.

In this adaptation, a thug from NYC by the name of Xander Drax has his henchmen attempt to procure 3 mystical skulls which gives dark powers to he who possesses them. The Phantom acts to thwart his efforts, as he knows the power these skulls contain.

This film contains action on land, sea, and air. Catherine Zeta Jones plays one of Drax's stooges. Her character has more depth than most of the characters in this movie.

As much as I enjoyed the movie, there are some things that make you go "Hmmmm..."

A horse and a wolf can both keep pace with a biplane speeding across the jungle. The Phantom must have fed them thier Wheaties...

The Phantom's alter ego, aka Kit Walker, takes a cab in New York City. He initally offers Bengala currency to the cabbie, then he offers a mitfull of jewels. Now, when you give a NY cabbie a handfull of what appears to be costume jewelry to the untrained eye, chances are you get screamed at severely at best (taking into consideration this took place in the 1930's, nowadays, the same action could get you brutalized in someway.)

Another is the Phantom chases Xander Drax and jumps into the water and clings onto the plane they take to the Devil's Vortex. Now, if any human being grabs onto a plane soaking wet, hangs on when the airplane is so many thousands of feet above ground where the air is colder and thinner, you would be freezing and getting light headed from the depleted oxygen as you hang on outside during a trip across the Atlantic.

My favorite part of the movie, aside from the great scenery, is how Xander Drax explains his name to Kabai Sengh in spelling bee fashion (Xander Drax! X A N D E R D R A X! Xander Drax!).

Well, this movie has a great ending, which I will not give out. Any fan of movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark or Jewel of the Nile would really like this one.

Enjoy!

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