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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 29 June 2005
For years, people have tried to bring Lee Falk's seminal jungle / superhero to the big screen, with no luck. This movie all but died in "development hell" several times, but you just can't keep a good Ghost-Who-Walks down!
Billy Zane was born to play this role, so it's a good thing that he's such a fan of the character (he "discovered" The Phantom in the late '80s while filming "Dead Calm" in Australia, where The Phantom is revered more than Batman is in the States). He brings the black & white / Good vs E-Ville sensibilities of the character to stunning life, & while he never takes it too seriously, he never makes fun of it either, which is a hard balance to achieve.
Treat Williams obviously had a cracking good time playing the main baddie, businessman-cum-mad-world-dominator Xander Drax. His delight in being E-Ville (as I like to call it) seeps through every frame he's in, & again, he has fun with the role without poking fun at it.
A pre-"Mark of Zorro" Catherine Zeta-Jones has catlike fun in her role as Sala, leader of the all-female Sky Band, & Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is absolutely delightful as Kabai Sengh (nee` "Singh" in the comics -- from what I understand, the spelling of the surname was changed so as not to offend anyone from India. ?!?)
Christy Swanson & James Remar were unusually sedate in their roles, but that doesn't stop this thrillride of a movie from moving right along.
The late, great Jeffrey Boam's ("Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade") screenplay cobbles together three classic Lee Falk Phantom tales (The Phantom's origin, "The Sky Band" & "The Skulls of Touganda"). If Boam wasn't a Phantom follower, he certainly did his homework, as the characters seem to leap right off the pages of Lee Falk & Ray Moore's early comic strips in look, tone & feel.
The 1930s' setting might put some people off (it *is* somewhat of a mystery why he chose to place the character in the '30s, as the comic strip is still going strong worldwide, set in modern times), being as far away, release-wise, from the last Indiana Jones movie as it is. It seems that period pieces such as The Phantom, The Rocketeer, & The Shadow have all suffered from this, unfortunately. With superhero movies such as Spider-Man, Daredevil, X-Men, & the Batman series, maybe kids have turned a jaded eye on the rather naive concept of "right always triumphs over wrong", but director Simon Wincer's pure vision of the first masked hero (The Phantom predated Batman by 3 years) transported me back to when I was a lad, & the heroes rode off into the sunset once the villain(s) had been vanquished. The smile was nigh impossible to carve off my face!
There's been talk of a new Phantom feature film, distancing itself from the Wincer / Zane version, & while I'm eager to see The-Ghost-Who-Walks on the silver screen again, it disappoints me that filmmakers feel the need to avoid comparisons to this film. After all, Paramount Pictures were the ones who shunted the advertising budget from The Phantom to their already-overhyped tanker, "Mission: Impossible", so they are ultimately the ones responsible for this movie not getting the publicity it should have gotten.
I'd love to see a 10th Anniversary edition of this DVD, restoring all the deleted scenes into the film. While the pacing did suffer somewhat, the scenes they left out are integral to understanding who The Phantom is & what he stands for.
Not to mention, we'd finally get to see the hero ride off into the sunset!
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on 2 March 2002
Sit back, relax and dont take it too seriously...If you can abide by this axiom you will enjoy the Phantom, I guarantee it! The pirates are a bit cheesy but otherwise Billy Zane is great as always the music is fantastic and the rescue from the ship sequence is an all time great! Sit back chill and enjoy ' The Phantom ' !
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on 2 August 2013
I really enjoyed this film. Being a huge Phantom fan I, did hope that they would not ruin the character by making a film. I am glad to say this was a good if a little underrated film. Good comic book style action, in the Indiana Jones type genre.

The film is set in 1938. No need to over modernise a classis character. Kit Walker was the last survivor of a pirate attack that killed his whole family. Adopted by the Bandar tribe in Bengala he swears to fight piracy, greed and corruption in all its forms and passes this legacy on to his sons and their sons after him. So the world always thinks they is only one Phantom. The story is of the 21 Phantom. The Phantom must stop a mad man from joining 3 ancient skulls, while saving Kit Walkers former girlfriend, and fending off the advanced of the Sky Queen Pirate. The film has the right blend of story, action, and adventure.

The whole cast do an excellent job, Zane is perfect as the Phantom, Jones plays the jealous pirate queen well in a mean girl sort of way. The only criticism of the film is that the Phantom does not seem to understand the secret identity thing very well. Anyone who meet him would know he is the Phantom, even though he does a much better job of keeping his mask on than Spider-man. All in all a good entertaining film.
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on 8 January 2005
Many people feel Billy Zanes incredible portrayal of Caledon Hockley in Titanic was his finest moment, but this is not quite the case. Rewind a year and see him as Kit Walker aka the Phantom! he proves that he can do action and drama in this thoughtful and provocative piece of cinema.
Evil mastermind Xander Drax is trying to obtain 3 sacred skulls, which, when combined, can harness the power of the sun! SWEET! But he is evil, which is not sweet, kit wants to stop him, and does in a fantastic finale.
Anyone who loves movies will adore this gem of a film, I implore to watch it asap, its only £5.97! Buy it, please
Thank you friend
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3.5 out of 5

A ship taken over by pirates. The death of a father. A young boy thrown overboard. Washing up on the shore of the Island of Bengalla. A strange ritual and a vow. When that boy grew up and became a man, he became the Phantom.

Centuries later, this boy's descendant--the 21st Phantom (Billy Zane)--is protecting his beloved jungle when thieves steal a sacred skull from a lost treasure trove. The Phantom learns the significance of the skull and discovers it is one of three and should someone ever possess all three, they would have ultimate power. Trailing the stolen skull to New York, the Phantom, now under his civilian guise of Kit Walker, seeks to track down the remaining skulls. While there, he reconnects with his old flame, Diana Palmer (Kirsty Swanson), and the two need to reconcile past differences as Kit learns the location of the second skull. Meanwhile, evil businessman Xander Drax (Treat Williams), in cahoots with the Sengh Brotherhood, a band of pirates--the descendants of the same pirates that were responsible for sinking the ship of the father of the first Phantom--and Drax wants the skulls for themselves. Drax, too, discovers the location of the second skull at the same time Kit and Diana do and after a failed attempt at disposing of Kit, kidnaps Diana and takes her to the location of the third: an uncharted island.

Good confronts evil when the Phantom seeks to rescue Diana while also stopping Drax and the Sengh Brotherhood from uniting the three skulls and becoming a powerful force in the world.

Phantom lore is fascinating, especially the idea that he never dies, or, at least, that's what criminals and evildoers everywhere think. "The Ghost Who Walks" has been around since 1936, which predates Superman, making the Phantom one of the earliest superheroes. I remember seeing trailers for this flick back when it first came out and getting all excited. It was superhero, swashbuckling adventure. Even saw it in the theatre. On that day I was running a bit behind. If I remember right, I missed the previews and came in right when the movie was starting. The first words I saw where the words that kicked off the film, "For those who came in late." I really thought the movie somehow knew I was late--or people like me--because then it went into a recap of the Phantom's origin before launching into the main story. Ahh, to be a young, gullible fanboy again.

This movie was clean, wholesome superhero fun. There was a decent story, superhero action, humor and adventure, with a little romance thrown in. It didn't take itself seriously, but wasn't a giant camp fest either. I still pop in the DVD now and then and enjoy The Phantom as a nice break from the oh-so-heavy-drama-laden superhero movies of today. Sometimes you just want to see a good guy busting bad guys and that's it.

Nowadays, this movie falls short in a few places--the "wow factor," the costume, the life-or-death-save-the-world-or-die storylines--but I was happy with Billy Zane's portrayal of the Phantom and with the movie as a whole. I've never read any of the comics so my view is completely on the flick and it being a simple superhero story. I will say that this movie has stirred in me an interest in the Phantom and am thinking of one day getting into the comics that spawned him.

The movie is definitely kid-friendly and as a parent who doesn't let his kids watch a good chunk of today's superhero flicks due to their mature content, this is one I'd recommend for families or those just looking for a break from the more grown-up, adult-oriented superhero movies of today.
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on 11 August 2016
I watched this so I could listen to the latest "How did this get made" podcast and let me tell you it was awful. Campy tone, storyline made very little sense. Catherine Zeta Jones and the girl from Mannequin 2 were quite fun.
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on 11 June 2009
Not all films have to be Citizen Kane, with iconic camera angles and great acting. Not all films have to be challenging of the medium. Not all comic book character need to translate onto the screen with tour-de-force of writing and direction like The Dark Knight. Sometimes it's better to just pick up a character and do something fun.
That's where this film comes in. It's not great by any stretch of the imagination. Some of the acting is so bad it should come with a health risk and the villains are so hammy you wouldn't be surprised if they started smelling of bacon. Still it doesn't drag at all, some of the set pieces are so ludicrous you have to laugh and you actually warm to Williams character of Xander Drax. He's so over the top that he comes right back a round to likeable.
Films like this are rare. They are an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, no grand message or depressing story line. Just fun and watching them help us to remember just how bad bad films are and how good the good ones can be.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 July 2012
Fun for all as Billy Zane smashes his way across the screen in this colourful comic book adaptation. The 30's setting is right on the mark and the sets are glorious. Treat Williams does a fine turn as the evil mastermind and we get a fine femme fatale in Catherine Zeta Jones. The Phantom is a step away from our modern take on superheroes in that he is pure good with no dark back story or tortured memories like batman for instance. I lapped the action up from start to finish.
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on 13 August 2003
There's very little exceptional about this movie. Essentially it mashes up the pulp 30's homage style of Indiana Jones and the Rocketeer, and fuses it with a pinch of more modern superhero action, keeping its tongue firmly in its cheek throughout. The end result: yes, it's nothing special, but it's great fun regardless.
Billy Zane, while never the most captivating of leading men, makes for a handsome hero: behold his baby-oiled gym toned buffness! Treat Williams is clearly having fun as the smug villian, while the wonderfully gravel voiced James Remar (of The Warriors, 48 Hours and more recently 2 Fast 2 Furious) makes a charismatic henchman. Kirsty Swanson (that's the original Buffy to you and I) generally looks disinterested, and of course there's the pre-superstardom Catherine Zeta Jones in one of her early Hollywood roles. And it's all set against a goregeous exotic backdrop, on the whole beautifully designed and lit.
As for the plot...erm...wait, it'll come to, it's gone, sorry. But who cares. The plot is- the Phantom does battle with baddies. In skin tight purple lycra and a small black mask, with the odd skull motif here and there.
It's not Indiana Jones or the Rocketeer, but's it not Batman Forever or Batman And Robin either. Not one to get overexcited about, but there are worse things to waste time on. Such as pondering the rumoured upcoming Phantom movie, which will apparently have zero connection to this one; and mulling over the fact that the second in line for the role after Billy Zane was...BRUCE CAMPBELL!! (read all about it in 'If Chins Could Kill'.)
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on 26 August 2011
Not truly bad but certainly of that breed of super-hero movies that were made before people really learned how to do it. Characters are as flat as a comic book drawing and the script is rather weak and played a little bit too much for laughs.
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