The Phantom (1996)

Movie Title: The Phantom

Year Released: 1996

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1h 40min

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

Director: Simon Wincer

Writer: Jeffrey Boam (based on the characters created by Lee Falk)

Starring: Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Bill Smitrovich, Casey Siemaszko, David Proval, Joseph Ragno, Samantha Eggar, Jon Tenney, Patrick McGoohan, Robert Coleby, Al Ruscio,

Review: A ruthless tycoon Xander Drax (Treat Williams) is attempting to obtain three magic skulls which would allow him to harness an energy force of immeasurable power. This could spell disaster for all mankind unless a mythical masked avenger (Billy Zane) can slam evil and save the day. Prepare for thrill-a-minute action and adventure with The Phantom.

Based on the successful comic series created by Lee Falk, the big screen adaption The Phantom is literally the comic come to life! It has a valiant heroes, evil scheming villains, a fierce femme fatale, a plucky heroine, breathtaking action scenes and stunts, exotic locales, and adventure to spare!

I remember anticipating the release of The Phantom back in the summer of 1996, but ultimately it came and went from theaters rather quickly and quietly, and I never got a chance to see it. Since then I've been trying to track it down and finally got to see it after patiently waiting for over two decades - and it was totally worth the wait!

It's a throwback movie to those old serials from the 1930s and has the energy and spectacle that most come to expect from a modern, mid-90s modern, audience has come to expect. Watching it now it's remarkable just how fun it is to watch. So may say it's hokey or cheesy, but that's its true charm. The Phantom doesn't try to be too gritty or follow the trends of the day, it stays true to the source material and it's all the better for it! Plus, it's great entertainment for the kids! Too many superhero movies are dark and dour these days. This one is perfect for kids that love costumed heroes fighting to stop the villain and save the day. It reminds me a lot of one of my personal favorite's - The Rocketeer!

Billy Zane is perfectly cast as the heroic Phantom and his alter ego Kit Walker. He's handsome, charming, and has abs for days. I really enjoyed him in the lead and because of his playful attitude throughout the film we get involved in the story and enjoy watching him saving the day. Treat Williams is also having the best time hamming it up as the villainous Xander Drax. He plays it perfectly as he monologues, laughs manically, and laughs at the Phantoms attempts to stop his evil endeavors. And leading ladies Kristy Swanson and Catherine Zeta-Jones are great as friend and foil, respectively, of our title character. Swanson is smart, tough, and doesn't mind mixing it up in the action scenes. The same goes Zeta-Jones as a henchwoman of Drax.

I really enjoyed this one, and I hope you will too! So if you're looking for a new superhero movie that's fun, exciting, and chock-full adventurous thrills, then keep your eye out for The Phantom!

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Billy Zane pumped iron for over a year to fill The Phantom's costume. A Batman-like costume with fake muscles was reportedly made, but by the time filming started, Zane was so beefed up that he did not need it.


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