Howdy people of the north, south, east and west, and welcome to Day #21 of Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best, average and worst comic book adapted films. We’ve reached the last 10 days now and I’ll be continuing my look into obscure superhero films with The Phantom.
So The Phantom, this is a film I was going into blind. I literally found it around a week ago and decided to add it to the list just to see what the deal was. The poster looked ridiculous so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I thought it would be worth a go.
The story can be summed up as the following:
“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.”
The story is at least an interesting one. This film feels like it was made in the vain of old adventure/action films or film serials like Flash Gordon and it reminded me of Captain America: The First Avenger, the Indiana Jones films and even a bit of James Bond with the setting, characters, style and tone. This film seems self-aware, but it’s also quite serious so I’m wondering what kind of tone this film was going for. Because it is really silly and cliché but then serious and trying to be taken seriously at other points. It feels like this film should have been a spoof more than a serious film or if it wanted to be serious as it could have done away with the one liners and conventional superhero tropes associated with comic books or old film serials. There’s a love story of sorts implied but it’s not properly developed for it to be earned, and beyond that there’s a few things in the plot that feel like they happen but don’t have enough time to develop or is properly explained to the audience.
Now let’s talk about the cast. Firstly there’s Billy Zane as The Phantom/Kit Walker. This character felt like a cross between the Adam West Batman and Steve Rogers/Captain America full of witty one liners, charm and those other standard heroic traits. I would have liked to have learnt more about him to see more of his personality and history, but for the most part Walker did a good job. Treat Williams as Xander Drax, I really like this guy. He’s a classic kind of villain, he’s obsessed with power, smug, cool, classy, charismatic and charming and he can be calm on minute and then freak out and kill someone in the next. Such a don. I will say that Williams does ham it up a bit towards the end, however it does seem in line with the film. As for Kristy Swanson as Diana Palmer and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Sala, I kind of put them in the same department, both of them don’t have much depth or character development, but they are confident, beautiful and thankfully they were fighters and had some good action scenes as well which doesn’t happen very often. I would say Jones fares the best because she has more screen time and as a villain she’s a little more cunning, sassy and aggressive and this film continues to prove that Jones was one super gorgeous woman in the 90’s. Radmar Agana Jao as Guran was good and intimidating but because of the way he spoke in such an aggressive manner it was hard to understand what he said at times. and finally I liked Patrick McGoohan as The Phantom’s Father and James Remar as Quill.
Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is nice, it has some cool action scenes and the use of special effects are okay but they do look a bit dated. As for the soundtrack, David Newman composes a nice film score with a grand, and adventurous sound.
And lastly how does it compare to the comics? This is again another one of those films where I haven’t read the source material but would like to check it out at some point.
So to conclude The Phantom is a decent film, it has a lot of fun and cool elements that make comic book adventures so intriguing. That being said I feel like there’s tonal inconsistencies and a lack of development in certain areas of the story that stop the film from being a stronger superhero outing. Like The Shadow, with some modern tweaking and the right director and writing team it would make for a great time in this age of superhero films.
That’s 21 reviews done, only 9 more to go. So have you seen The Phantom and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!