Friday, March 9, 2012

The Phantom (1996)

I have a funny sort of relationship with superhero movies.  I've never been a huge comic book fan so the extent to which I enjoy a comic book movie depends on how it works as whatever sort of genre it falls into be it horror, action or science fiction.  As a result, my tastes tend to veer away from the general consensus at times (I didn't especially enjoy the second Spider-Man film and the Nolan Batman films are sort of a mixed bag for me) and to be frank, sometimes the lesser known characters make for more enjoyable movies in my eyes.  I always dug that Alec Baldwin Shadow adaptation  and Swamp Thing might be one of my favorite super hero films of all time.

In 1996, pulp comics hero Kit Walker, AKA: The Phantom made his way to the big screen   with Billy Zane in the lead and Treat Williams as the villainous Xander Drax, a power crazed millionaire who wants to acquire some mystical skulls that will grant him unheard of power.  At his side are Quill (James Remar), a man who has killed the Phantom's father (played by Patrick McGoohan), the previous holder of the heroic moniker, and Sala (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a sexy pilot.

The tale takes The Ghost Who Walks from the jungle to New York where he reunites with an old flame (Kristy Swanson) who he saves in the jungle in the first forty minutes.  From there, it's more or less non stop action as The Phantom tracks Drax and his goons to a deserted island populated by an ancient pirate brotherhood led by action movie staple Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa.  I've always enjoyed Tagawa as he always brings a great level of menace to villain parts.

The film is beautifully shot and has a nice light touch with good performances from Zane and Williams.  The screenplay by Jeff Boam is decent enough but there just seems to be a little something missing.  While the film is easy to watch brain candy, there doesn't seem to be the flair one would expect for a rousing adventure movie.  The pacing is fine as it never outstays its welcome (the 100 minute run time goes by in a flash) but I honestly could have done with a little more plot.

It's a movie that is good enough to not be a bad film but it seems to think that's all it really needed to do.  Still, it's a perfectly good rainy day adventure movie that could have used a little more of the magic that made the Indiana Jones films so great.

Great poster tagline, though.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.