Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Phantom 1996 starring Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams & Catherine Zeta-Jones

There are certain movies that pulp fans will mention in any discussion as being underrated and should have done better, The Rocketeer, Sky Captain, John Carter, and The Phantom.
The 1996 movie was filmed in Thailand and in Australia (some of it was filmed in Brisbane City Hall) and there is a lot to like, the 1930s setting is pretty good, I really like the Phantom outfit that Billy Zane wore with what looked like tribal markings that looked like a skull on his chest.  Kristy Swanson makes a feisty Diana Palmer and Catherine Zeta-Jones is great as Sala, the leader of the Sky Pirates in her first movie role.  Treat Williams' Xander Drax is wonderfully over the top.
The action moves from the Bengalla jungle to New York to a rousing finale in The Devil's Triangle base of the Singh brotherhood. 
As a fan of the comics, I thought the supernatural aspects - Kit being visited by the ghost of his father and the three mystical powerful skulls - were a mistake.  Also there were some interesting story choices, during the New York section The Phantom discovers that the jade skull is in the New York Museum and has been there since Jimmy Wells 12th birthday, Jimmy looks about 30 so it's been there for at least 18 years.  The Phantom and Diana rush there and are met by Drax and his men who have decided to acquire the skull at the same time.  Drax therefore obviously knew that it was there and would have been smarter to acquire it quietly through the Museum board.
But aside from those things I love this movie, nearly everyone is perfectly cast Hero and Devil look incredible.   There is a scene where one of Drax's henchmen tells the Singh Brotherhood he has killed The Phantom, the response is laughter and  that everyone there had killed The Phantom.
Well worth watching.


  1. I agree, Brad, the movie was better than what little praise it received. I easily overlooked the few flaws, and enjoyed the scenery, action, and acting. Too bad it didn't have a sequel.

  2. It’s sad that after box office debacle of this film, Hollywood forgot our favourite masked hero. He deserves so much more than that. We so wish to see him in live action again. Thankfully in 2017 to celebrate the 80th year of his publication, fans from India made a 40 min film depicting the origin story of the first Phantom in a contemporary narrative style. The film is amazingly faithful to the comics and has a perfect actor portraying Chris Standish/Kit Walker. The film titled “CHOLOMAN OSHORIRI-THE GHOST WHO WALKS” is in authentic Bengali language with English subtitles. The best thing about the film is that they updated the Phantom’s suit into an armour which looks super badass with the pupil-less white eye mask. the film is available in Youtube.

    1. Thanks Malini, I just watched it and was pretty cool.