Monday, October 29, 2012

The Phantom (1996) Review:

Today there are numerous kinds of comic book characters. Many are separated into their own groups. Some characters are superheroes and while others are non-superheroes. Out of these two types, it is the non-superheroes who are the most complex and in depth characters to understand. There is a reason to why these mortal individuals do what they do and it almost seems like they have more power than the supernatural individuals. The Phantom is one of these characters.

Billy Zane as "The Ghost who walks"
The character of The Phantom was created by the mind of Lee Falk and has the credits to proclaim itself as the first comic book hero. Playing Kit Walker or as his alter ego, The Phantom, is actor Billy Zane. Zane is a good fit for this role. His ability to evade hostile situations is quite peculiar due to the lack of technology of the time. In a sense, he was a super human even though he never had any supernatural powers. Interesting enough, this film comes off as George of the Jungle (1997), but this time, the main character has a college education instead of being raised by gorillas.

Treat Williams as Xander Drax 
Co-starring is Zane's love interest, is Kristy Swanson, as Diana Palmer, who looks good just the way she is.  Along side her is Catherine Zeta-Jones who plays Sala, an air pirate who has some comical exchanges with Swanson's character over who likes The Phantom more. Playing the main villain is Treat Williams as Xander Drax. Williams' plays Drax with finesse as if he couldn't really decide whether he should be a ruthless man with no conscience or a man who just likes screwing up everyone's day. Not to say he acted bad but there were times where Drax acted more goofy than serious.

There are a lot of neat parts that take place in this movie, much of which involves The Phantom. As a moviegoer, it's not often that a chase scene includes a horse. Horses were mans original car. Just listening to the hooves of the animal clop along the ground is much easier on the ears than always listening to the roar of a V8 engine. In addition to The Phantom's horse, Hero, he has a dog, named Devil. Devil, who has a very long tongue, is also a good animal actor. Both Hero, and Devil work together to help their master in the quest for justice. Even cooler is that they can communicate to each other!

And that's not all, The Phantom works with other animals too and they're just as loyal. As stated before, he's just a well-educated "George of the Jungle". The music was to fun to listen to as well. David Newman provided the soundtrack and it's great how The Phantom was able to get its own theme. I say this because there have been other films in the past that have great ideas but weren't executed right partially due to the franchise not even having a musical theme. Besides what viewers see, how else would they remember a film? By something they listen too obviously! Look at Stars Wars. No one even has to say what it is just by listening to the main theme.

Lastly, the action was good too. It is very much enjoyable to see Billy Zane, Swanson and Zeta-Jones swinging swords and firing pistols at various opponents. However, some of these action sequences seemed slowed a little bit too much and too often. There were times where I was waiting for a move to end but it was moving ever so slowly that I thought it would never finish. Also the finale between The Phantom and Drax was weak. I was expecting something a little more than what I saw. But these flaws are so minor that it won't really bother the audience.

Although it is not the first comic book adaptation to hit the theatres, it is an adaptation of the first comic book hero and it is done fairly well. There are some parts that may seem out of place, but overall it is a decent adventure film.

Points Earned --> 8:10

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