Retro Review: The Phantom


This is a movie that upon it’s release was greeted with terrible reviews and low box office returns; yet when I as a small child saw it, I loved every second of it. Recently I decided to rewatch it to see if the coolness still held up to the adult version of me, and you know what, it does. As many comic inspired movies and TV shows of the era did there definite elements inspired by Tim Burton’s Batman, with it’s art deco designs and garishness.

In my favorite performance of his, Billy Zane is perfect as the purple clad vigilante, as opposed to portraying the dark costumed anti-heroes that had become popular at the time though; Keaton’s take on the Dark Knight, Brandon Lee’s interpretation of The Crow, and the popularity of the over the top comics from Image; Zane’s take on the Phantom owes more to Reeve’s Superman or Flynn’s Robin Hood; he’s dashing and clean cut with charisma to spare. As the thorn in the Phantom’s side is Treat Williams as the head of an international crime syndicate and realizing the tone of the movie he hams it up as much as possible and still creates a menacing threat. But the villain who truly steals the show is the pirate portrayed by a young Catherine Zeta Jones, who pulls off the role of the femme fatale.

While it lacks the depth and emotional resonance of many of the modern super hero movies it is a ton of fun. It has dashing super heroes, pirates, shoot-outs, car chases and anything else they felt might entertain the audience. If it’s been a while you might want to check it out again; and if you’ve only believed the negative hype for all these years, then go see it and you might be surprised.