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104 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 1999
It is rare when a movie is so close to the book or comic on which it is based. Even Phantom creator Lee Falk was proud of this baby. Both the portrayal of the characters and the storyline follow closely the 63 year-old newspaper strip on which it is based. Billy Zane IS The Phantom, a character as mysterious as Michael Keaton's Batman, but as much fun to be with as Christopher Reeve's Superman. Treat Williams gives an all out performance as villainous Xandor Drax. And Kristy Swanson is great as tough, smart Diana Palmer, the Phantom's girlfriend. This woman is no stereotypic sceamer like Lois Lane. She gets in her own punches with the bad guys and figures out who the masked hero is on her own. The story has it all--chase scenes, explosions, sword fights, and the search for a mysterious supernatural power. But like the Indiana Jones movies, it's the characters that make the movie. Plus, it's a movie the whole family can enjoy!
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2002
My wife and I saw this movie when it was in the theater. When we left, we regretted we had not taken our then 11-year-old child to see it also. Is it the greatest movie ever made? No, but it doesn't try to be and that's part of the appeal. Unlike the top-heavy Batman and Superman films, The Phantom is a fun, simple movie. It's got a lot of action, very little profanity, and a sex-and-violence level that would be hard-pressed to offend anyone. Billy Zane is terrific as the title character, tongue firmly in-cheek and looking like he's having a great time. Treat Williams chews scenery like a dog gnawing on a bone as the over-the-top villain. And yes, that is Catherine Zeta-Jones as the femme fatale. The action sequences and special effects aren't up to the level of Indiana Jones, but I doubt they were given the budget of an Indiana Jones film considering the source material--a comic book character no one under the age of 21 has ever heard of--but it doesn't really matter. It's a fun movie that stays true to the source material (which explains the purple costume criticized by so many other reviews here). This movie, just like Alec Baldwin's underrated "The Shadow" (another superhero no one under 21 has heard of), is worth a look.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 1999
The Phantom is an enjoyable movie and true to the comics. The film's setting being in the 1930s really captures that time period, from the costumes to the vehicles. Billy Zane was just excellent in the role of the title character (with real muscles not fake rubber muscle suits like the Batman movies). He brought this classic comic book character to life with great personality, from humour to the serious, making a great superhero. Kristy Swanson (the original "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") plays the Phantom's love interest, Diana Palmer. She was just great in this movie as well, reminding me how underrated this actress is. This movie also stars Catherine Zeta Jones (the sexy lady in 1998's "The Mask of Zorro" film). She didn't have much to do here unfortunately. Treat Williams is the bad guy in this film, who, for some odd reason, portrayed it campy. This movie has some great stunts and action scenes but fails to be an Indiana Jones movie wannabe (ironically written by "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" writer Jeffrey Boam, who's also written "Lethal Weapon 2" and "Lethal Weapon 3"). The film's story could have been much better. Overall though, its still enjoyable to watch. Film director Joe Dante served as one of the executive producers on this movie.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
It doesn't surprise me that "The Phantom" failed at the box office. It lacked the star power of other films of that time, relied on the name recognition of a hero who isn't as flashy as Batman, Spiderman, or a multitude of other characters, and, honestly, it wasn't summer blockbuster material. Perhaps if it came out in the dead of winter when most studios toss out their artsy flicks hoping for Oscar recognition, it would have done better.

With that said, I have to admit that "The Phantom" is a wonderful flick to watch. Granted, it doesn't have flying heroes or webslingers, but it does have a wonderful story to it in the classic vein of those old 1930's cliffhangers. Billy Zane is game as Kit Walker/Phantom. He has that classic Hollywood look to him that makes him perfect for the role. Kristy Swanson (the original Buffy) does a wonderful job as Diane Palmer, the damsel in not-so-much-distress. Catherine Zeta Jones, James Remar, and the underrated Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa head up a stellar supporting cast. The real "treat" here, however, is Treat Williams as Xander Drax, the evil mastermind behind all of the Phantom's problems in this film. He's completely over the top, delivering smug lines like, "Show me the power!" with enough cinematic flair that you can't help but love his devilish character.

The story involves the search for three skulls: one of bronze, one of jade, and one of gold, that will give their owner ultimate power. Drax, being the power-hungry man that he is, is on the hunt for these three skulls. The only things in his way are the Sang Brotherhood, who are responsible for creating the Phantom many centuries ago, and the Phantom himself. The tale bounces from the lush jungles of Africa (but actually Australia and the backlots of California) to the mean streets of 1930's New York City, and then to the dreaded Devil's Vortex. It's full of swashbuckling, gunplay, high adventure, and a few explosions.

The cinematography is brilliant, capturing the beauty of the Australian locations it was filmed on. The blues and greens fill the TV screen wonderfully, and the vibrant purple of Phantom's suit supplies a wonderful contrast to the deep greens and browns of the jungles.

Overall, there isn't too much that's offensive in this flick for youngsters. The language does get a little bit strong for the younger lot, but if you let your kids watch recent the recent PG-13 hero flicks, I'm sure they can handle this one. There is quite a bit of violence, including a couple of impalings, but all of it is done in a way that is no worse than most other superhero films.

I highly recommend this flick to fans of films like "The Shadow" and "The Rocketeer," as well as most other superhero flicks. It might take awhile to get beyond the VERY purple outfit that our hero wears in this flick, but it's all played out with great intentions and a nod to the classic cliffhangers from long ago.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2005
I bought this movie just because of Billy Zane. I really didn't expect much else from it. But I found myself really enjoying it. The sets were fantastic.They really captured the 1930's feel.The jungle shots were beautiful.I thought Billy made the perfect Phantom. I only wish they had showed more of the romance between Diana and the Phantom.I really loved that part.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2001
Where to start?
Billy Zane, better known as Cal Hockley the evil fiancee in Titanic, is absolutely stellar in this movie. I realize that the sinking boat movie helps pay his bills, but the role was certainly beneath him. The Billy Zane in the sinking boat movie is a corpse compared to the Billy Zane in the Phantom. Yes, it is that different!
Second, the sets were superbly, beyond the sets seen in other 1930's films such as the Shadow, or even *gulp* Indiana Jones. Except for the Pirates of the Caribbean set at the end of the movies, but the city scenes are stelar for any art deco afficionados.
Thirdly, Hitchcock observed that heroes and villains are almost indistinguishable. We have created anti-heroes and gentelman villains (ie Wolf Larsen and Hannibal Lecter). You actually root for Zane/Phantom.
The Bad: There were several things wrong with the film. First, some of the stunts seemed to be rehashed Indiana Jones stunts. Writers, please try to stretch yourself and come up with new ideas! Second, Mr. Drax, the villain, beside using the name of a 007 villain (Moonraker), he was not believable as a criminal mastermind. He was too much of a mouth. Maybe different casting. Third, the cinematography was nonexistent. Good cinematography can maker a film, as n Lang's "M."
In conclusion, this was a nice surprise. They had a lot going for the film, the franchise/name recognition, a great actor, good sets, few if no anachronisms, no Nazi's. But the film didn't quite take it over the top. I would like to see a Phantom II, but that may never happen. Sigh!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I won't rehash the plot of the movie here-- if you've come to this page looking for the film, you already know the plot. Billy Zane is great as The Phantom and Treat Williams gives a great performance as the ruthless villain Xander Drax. The real value here is the superb picture quality on this Blu-ray disc-- it's outstanding! Colors are bright without being garishly oversaturated and blacks are nice and inky. It's certainly an improvement over the DVD and well worth the $11.99 I paid for the disc. No special features, just the theatrical trailer-- a commentary by Billy Zane and/or director Simon Wincer would have been nice. If you have a Blu-ray player and like this movie, be sure to buy this Blu-ray!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Having been a reader of Lee Falk's classic newspaper comic strip on which this film is based,I was prepared to be disappointed as the translation from one medium to another can sometimes be problematic. Having gone in with those reservations, I'm happy to say that this is a very entertaining movie that respects its source material and embellishes upon it in the way only a big-budget Hollywood film can. Billy Zane is terrific as the mysterious "Ghost who walks". This film only received luke-warm reviews from the top name film critics but merited more consideration. If you liked The Shadow or The Mask of Zorro,this movie is one worth checking out.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2000
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie. I had heard comments that it was boring and slow. Well, let me tell you: IT IS NOT SO! It's a great, fun movie. It has great action sequences, great humor and great performances.
The title role is played by Billy Zane, and he is completly believable as The Phantom/Kit Walker. Handsome, charming, VERY athletic, muscular (he looks great in that purple outfit ;D) and all the superhero character qualities as well: kind, honest, courteous, the whole package. Kristy Swanson plays the love interest, Diana Palmer. I liked the fact that she's not some silly damsel in distress that spends the whole movie screaming for help. Instead Diana's a strong, corageous and intelligent woman. Very good example for girls. The villain is Xander Drax, played well by Treat Williams, and the villaness is played by Catherine Zeta Jones. All in all, very good perfomances.
Another fine element in this movie is the scenery. Wow! Beautiful landscapes and locations, exquisite beaches with glorious blue-green waters, the breathtaking jungle...makes you wish you could be there. Believe me, it's amazing, and worth seeing more that once.
The movie stays true to the spirit of the comic strip it is based on (which is such a rare achievement for a Hollywood movie). Parents can rest easy with this movie, it good clean fun for kids, it's not very violent, and no foul language. Plus, you'll enjoy it as much as the kids.
All in all, a VERY good movie, that I fully recomend to everyone.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2001
He is a hero who is simple a decent person. A hero without super powers or trust funds. A very humane person with a code of decency. A hero who is certainly needed today. It is a film that is needed today. It is a film to watch and enjoy. This movie leaves one with a good feeling. It is not a film to nitpick or compare to others because that would totally miss the reason for escaping into it. A truly wonderful family film, that will live in the memories of those lucky enougn to watch it together. What a great cast! Billy Zane,his penetrating eyes framed by the Phantom' mask, brings the hero to life. Kristy Swanson and Catherine Zeta-Jones are strong,independent women. Veteran actors such as John Capaodice, Al Ruscio, and Samantha Eggar to name a few,lend their considerable expertise to the production. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa appearence dominates the screen, generating much excitement. Patrick McGoohan's presence and voice is a outstanding. He is truly an screen legend.
Unfortunely the critics in their wisdom contributed to the short run at the box office office nevertheless the viewers know quality. The Phantom and all he stands for lives in the hearts of those willing to understand.
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