The Phantom (1996) Poster

(1996)

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7/10
good old fashioned ripping yarn
lindaochopper16 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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10/10
Heroism Is Now Fantasy (and that's just unrealistic!)
woody00239 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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8/10
A pleasant surprise
EnriqueH18 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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6/10
Comic Book Heroes
artzau13 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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8/10
Harmless Old-Fashioned Comic Book Adventure
ccthemovieman-12 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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A Wonderful Pulp Adventure
Mike-7542 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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9/10
Really, it's good fun !
Lori S18 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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8/10
Great action movie.
donahue-19 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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10/10
Excellent Adaptation!
Kura_Tatzu16 July 2002
This movie does the character justice in so many ways. For those of you that don't like it, you may be expecting too much from it. Watch it as if you were a kid. Billy Zane was a excellent choice to play this character. Treat Williams is way over the top! Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as the Evil Kabai Sengh chews enough scenery that the film should bunch in the projector. All I can say is enjoy!
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Someone did their homework
Badger-2015 April 2001
Not many people realize that the Phantom is THE FIRST comic book hero, pre-dating Superman and pre-dating Batman. I grew up on the classic Lee Falk comic strip hero in my local newspaper. The ads for this film made me suspect it would be faithful to the character and storyline. When the film opens with the comic strip's classic line "For those who came in late…" (always used between the end of one storyline and the beginning of the next with one-day strip with a brief synopsis/reminder of the origin of the Phantom), I got goose bumps and the film maintained its integrity, unlike people who have no clue as to who is "The Phantom." While some alternations were made for it to be a little more PC (the Phantom's local pygmy people are omitted, possibly "replaced" by the Rope People we see at one point), the film's flavour remained untarnished. I can see why Billy Zane fought so hard for the role. Treat Williams clearly had a blast chewing up the scenery as the villain. Then-newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones certainly had we males dislocating our jaws with amazement (it always pained me later she'd be referred to mostly as "Catherine Zeta-Jones from Zorro" for a time, as though this tongue-in-cheek action adventure film was to be neglected). For the non-intellect, this film may fare better on tape or on cable. For those who know the character from his origins, see it either there or if it should ever hit theatrical re-release. The saddest thing about this film is it has not yet spanned a series of sequels.
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8/10
Great Movie!
alex-fry17 July 2002
Billy Zane is right-on as the lead in this movie. Everyone seemed to have a good time making this flick and I had a good time watching it. It is not an Indiana Jones rip-off and it is not at all cheesy. Yes, it's a little hard to look at a man in a tight purple outfit and not want to chuckle, but it's all based on a comic book . . .

Great stuff. Much more entertaining than The Shadow.
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The best superhero movie made to date.
spcglider11 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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Batman meets Raiders of the Lost Ark
vwolak7 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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7/10
This movie is a MUST SEE
kidCrow30 July 2000
For those who like Rocketteer, Deep Rising, Tremors, Pitch Black, This is a movie for YOU. It has all the thrills of a roller-coaster. It's like watching a comicbook. Roger Rabbit is another. Believe anything, relax, and don't take it too seariously, and you will love this film. It has brainless, popcorn fun for multiple viewings. The Shadow is another. If you like any of these films, you will like this one. Some people go to movies to change there lives. Others just go for fun. This is for those people.

Simple.
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10/10
Excellent Movie - we need more
lightner-318 March 2000
Now this is the type of film we need more of. Adventure, heroics, action, but without all of stuff that takes away from a good movie...vulgarity, sexual scenes, etc. It takes intelligence and skill to write a movie without filling it with these distractions, and this movie pulls it off nicely. My family and I watched it, and we love it. Hope there will be a Phantom 2.
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9/10
PHANTOM, Ghost who walks, deserved sequel or two!!
John T. Ryan1 June 2005
Maybe it's just me, but this is surely one film adapted from a well known, long existing, world famous Comic Strip, which deserved a better fate and a sequel or two! First of all, it was a really good looking production. It had no signs of "frugality" any where. In other words, the picture looked good, pleasing to the eye. It had good color work.

The casting was tops, the actors in their roles would be hard to beat.Billy Zane in particular charged into the role with both true professional acting and an obvious understanding and appreciation of the character. He probably grew up with the PHANTOM, following the strip in the pages of the Chicago American, being a native Chicagoan. It appears that he spent a lot of time in the weight room in preparing to wear that skin tight costume. He surely looked the part.

The story was exciting and it changed locals enough to give a balance to the Phantom's residence in a fictional Asian jungle country to the coming to New York. It's always good for an adventure film like this to have a little contrast in locales, peoples, cultures, etc, etc.

Humor is present in the film, but it was not supposed to be a farce. There seems to be a tendency to go with the "camp" humor whenever the property is derived from comic pages.But it's not so here.

The producers did a great job of adapting this comic strip hero on to the screen, while remaining extremely faithful to the original concept, and providing a screen play suitable for a '90's audience. Like I've been saying, why no sequels?
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9/10
Heroes should entertain
jammin42 January 2000
I found "The Phantom" entertaining in the colorful sets, interesting props, good story line, and almost-believable characters. The movie displayed much like a comic book re-enactment. I want my heroes to be honorable and fantastic. I enjoyed this movie very much, and watch it every time it airs on cable.
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9/10
A great trip...
ynque11 October 1999
Okay, it's not the best film ever made, but it's a fun ride. It takes the famous comic strip to the level of the silver screen without losing the very comic-bookish flavor; yet, it doesn't overplay that aspect as did the 1990 Warren Beatty "Dick Tracy" film. Due to excellent casting, Zane achieves believability in the role of Kit Walker/The Phantom, and Treat Williams is brilliant as the riotous playboy-turned-villain. You can also catch Catherine Zeta-Jones here (before she was famous). Jeffrey Boam's writing rivals his other projects ("Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade", etc.) for charm and dialogic alacrity. What's more, it's a relatively "clean" film--where there is opportunity for violence, gore and strong profanity, the film substitutes humor or moves the action offscreen. The stunts and acrobatic feats are incredible. (And that horse is gorgeous...)

This movie falls into the same category as "The Rocketeer" and other such fun flicks. However, don't go into this film expecting it to be a hard-hitting action adventure or "Temple of Doom" revisited. It is exactly what it pretends to be: a fun, enjoyable Saturday-matinee-style movie. Have fun with it--don't pick out each part to criticize, but just sit back and enjoy the ride.
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True to the original comics and a great romp in true pulp magazine style
Wombat-3628 July 1999
This movie captures the true spirit of the original Phantom comics. Everything is done right. The time period, the fighting styles, the characterisations, and the whole look of the film are perfect. If you have ever read a Phantom comic and enjoyed it, then see this movie and you'll not be disappointed.
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8/10
Wonderful little adventure/romance/comedy/super-hero mystical fantasy
wherb8 July 2001
Phantom is a much underrated movie. Big is not necessarily better, and the competing movies with bigger and more numerous special effects do not necessarily provide a more enjoyable experience.

The Phantom is set in an idealized, industrial 1930's, beautifully photographed. The story is simple and is concisely and clearly told, both visually and in dialogue. The characters are amusingly campy without absurd exaggeration. All the actors play their parts well, with just the right amounts of camp and sincerity. The action is fast-paced, but never gets confusing or over-stimulating. The stunts and special effects are great and support the story. There are no misfit special effects or stunts for-their-own sake to detract from the story. The comedic elements fit the story line wonderfully - some one-liners are perfect and give big laughs.

In short, Phantom has the best elements of Romancing the Stone and Raiders of the Lost Ark, without suffering from the excesses of those more popular films.
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Exactly what you'd expect from a comic book hero of the 30s
spinhead24 June 2000
The comic book heroes of the 30s were direct, earnest, and simple. They can't compete with today's video game characters, which is why most younger viewers won't be impressed with simple story and will miss all the million-dollar special effects they've come to expect. However, if you like a simple, direct mystery/adventure/romance just like the comic books of Phantom's era, you'll probably enjoy this movie.
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9/10
Comic strip come to life
ovid124 April 2000
I'm in the camp of those who learned to love the Phantom as a comic strip and are thrilled to see him brought to such vivid life on the screen. The fabulous cinematography keeps the Ghost Who Walks riding, running, swimming and fighting his way through this film. Far from being a rip-off of Indiana Jones or Batman, Phantom is the inspiration for these characters and the period of adventure between the wars. To those who bristle at some of the campy dialogue, it's important to remember that this was a "comic" strip that ran in the Sunday paper--it's not supposed to be taken too seriously. Billy Zane acquits himself well as a young, vigorous version of Phantom, who will grow older and wiser. Catherine Zeta-Jones is not only beautiful but has some great lines (to the thugs assigned to take care of Kit Walker/Phantom, "I'll come to claim the body"). So sit back and enjoy.
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Slam Evil!
dominatr3717 August 2002
I got a copy of this flick on DVD for my birthday, and watched it last night. It had been years since I saw it on HBO, but about two or three weeks back, ABC played it as one of their movies of the week.

What a great action flick! Not the best ever, mind you, but damn enjoyable. Treat Williams was a little to over the top for my tastes as a villain, but Billy Zane was right on as the "Ghost who walks", a classic comic strip and book character out of the thirties and forties. I enjoyed all of this movie,and am glad it's now part of my permanent collection. It's one of those movies that draws your attention with riveting action and suspense, and makes you sit there. A worthy bookend to flicks like "the Rocketeer", and "the Shadow". Good cast selection , too. Kristy Swanson is always a babe, no matter her hair color,and Catherine Zeta-Jones, well, what can you say about her? As a sort of anti-hero female pirate/pilot , she was damn cool. I liked this one a lot. to bad they didn't make any sequels for it. I guess to many people don't have a knowledge of the legendary Phantom.
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Movie for the Collection
gwonman16 July 1999
Not being a child of the "Radio Age," I wasn't familiar with "The Phantom," but after watching this movie I finnaly knew what my grandparents were always talking about. This movie was a magical thrill ride that set the perspective of the 50's and all its wonder. The Phantom wasn't another 'super hero' that could fly, or had super strength, but an ordinary person with a heart of gold. This magical adventure was a movie for the classics, and is a great addition to your home theater.
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My favorite adaptation of a pulp/comic strip hero.
DN-628 January 1999
Of all the recent pulp hero adaptation to the big screen, this one ranks as the best so far. Doc Savage was too campy. The Shadow was disappointing, The Spirit was too small and the Rocketeer was an echo of the entire genre. But the Phantom, thanks to performances from Billy Zane, Treat Williams and Catherine-Zeta Jones, came alive on the screen. There was humor, drama, excitement, suspense and action galore. This film had all the elements of a successful pulp novel or newspaper serial. The cinematography, especially on the location shots, was breathtaking. Billy Zane is very believable as Kit Walker both in and out of costume. The faithfulness of the film to the original stories is also excellent.
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