Movie Review: “The Phantom” (1996)

“And that night, in an ancient ceremony of fire and drums, the tribal shaman presented the boy with a ring of great significance. The boy understood that he was destined to avenge his father’s death by fighting piracy, greed and cruelty in all their forms. When he grew to be a man, he became the Phantom! “


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Title: The Phantom

Director: Simon Wincer

Cast: Billy Zane, Treat Williams, Kristy Swanson, Catherine Zeta-Jones, James Remar

Released: 1996

Rating: 4/5


The most I know about superheroes and comics basically comes from watching The Big Bang Theory. Oh, and I have seen an episode or two of Lois and Clark. And there, ladies and gentlemen, shameful as it is, my knowledge about superheroes comes to its end.

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So when I clicked on the “play movie” button, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. My only expectation (and my main – if not only – reason to watch The Phantom) was to see Billy Zane dressed up in a weird purple dress, doing some sort of superhero stuff.

The beginning of the film did not strike me as original. I mean, white men penetrating into a jungle, being where they shouldn’t be, misusing a child to get there – quite the usual Western civilisation explorers. One man takes something he shouldn’t touch, he’s choked to death by a skeleton, the rest are quite composed about it and continue collecting the valuables. So far, so cliché.

But then the Phantom appears. I must say that his dress will never cease to amuse me, and I am convinced that but a few men could pull that off without looking terribly ridiculous. Billy Zane looks hot. Even in purple.

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And to make the character even more attractive, his sidekick is a wolf, he rides a white horse, he can fly a plane, and as it at first appears, he cannot be killed. Oh, and did I mention that his real name is Kit? How cool is that?

As for the villain, he might not be as ominous as some, but Xander Drax (“Begins and ends with the letter X.”) is at least entertaining. I find it hard to take his evilness seriously but he is hilarious.

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Yet (even though my main interest was to look at the male characters (because let’s be honest, when will you find a man of Billy Zane’s class in real life? Right?)) no movie could be sold and bring a lot of money without featuring pretty women. Both Kristy Swanson and Catherine Zeta-Jones do an amazing job in this film. Their characters are active, independent, strong – and they fight as well as any man.

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The plot itself is interesting, I guess. The Skulls of Touganda. The Seng Brotherhood. I appreciate that there’s a background story, and the movie has certainly kept me entertained for one and a half hour. Still, in the long run, I prefer films that either leave behind a strong impression on my mind and soul or the ones that make me laugh out loud. It offered a pleasant way to unwind for a bit, but I doubt I would have watched it, were the cast not so good.

So – even though the movie might not be captivating for those who are used to loads of action improved by the most modern special effects – the bottom line is:

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Have you seen this movie? Or do you have a favourite superhero?

Feel free to leave a reply in the comment section below 😉

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22 thoughts on “Movie Review: “The Phantom” (1996)

  1. How have I never seen this one? I love Billy Zane, but this movie in particular doesn’t really seem like the type of thing you’d see in his repertoire…But I bet he would make an amazing Batman!

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  2. I had to check the release year of this movie because I was thinking wow Billy still looks great but I see it was in ’96! ! I remember watching him in several movies back in the day. Did you ever see. .it wasn’t superhero though, Dead Calm and he was also in Titanic! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He definitely looks great! One of those lucky people who age well. Oh yes!! Dead Calm was great! And a few weeks ago, I even wrote about his character in Titanic. 😉 He’s also playing Mark Antony in the 1999 Cleopatra miniseries, makes an appearance in Charmed, and he is the voice of John Rolfe in Pocahontas 2. Such an awesome actor ❤

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  3. I have not seen this movie but I enjoy watching the superhero films. They are so technologically advanced, entertaining, and full of action. Seems like something my kids and I would enjoy watching.

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  4. I love superhero movies a lot. my favorite character of them is always batman but quite recently i watched dead pool and i think i like him too. maybe i should watch this movie, i might like it.

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  5. I watched this movie! It’s a good one, but I’m not a big fan of this actor. I don’t know why he’s just so annoying to me. 😀

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