The Phantom


Director: Simon Wincer

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Billy Zane, the actor who almost became a star, is The Phantom (1996) It isn't easy to look macho & heroic in lavender tights, yet Billy pulls it off handsomely, so he was obviously the man born to play the role.

But I guess he would've had to have played it for an earlier generation, as anyone who remembers that particularly comic strip character is likely in an old folks' home. The movie did such poor box office that Billy's rising star was setting by opening night.

Patrick McGoohan is his ghost-dad. Kristy Swanson is the Phantom's girlfriend, & Catherine Zita-Jones is her butch girlfriend. The story is set in 1939 & very effectively uses old-fashioned cliffhanger fantasy scenarios once commonplace to Saturday matinee serials.

As our story opens, the superhero figure of the Phantom is the twentieth generation of a centuries-old tradition of jungle & seacoast guardians, believed by many to be a single immortal avenger. The Phantom is answerable to the Togunda tribe of Bengala Island, whose ancient people once possessed enormous power like unto atomic energy.

Some fairly colorful if not terribly convincing family-friendly stuff happens without much need of special FX. The Phantom rides through the African jungle like the Lone Ranger on the open range, & engages in plenty of action. In the course of the tale we also glimpse the "roof people," a tribe that builds its villages in jungle treetops.

The tale climaxes in the depths of the earth under an active volcano, where descendants of a four-hundred year old pirate brotherhood dwell in the ancient ruins of subterranean architecture that would seem to predate the pirates' residency. Everything bad blows up in the end.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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