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Biography [ ]
Sala led the Sky Bandits , Xander Drax 's all-female pilot corps. She was quite seductive and ruthless, and, to a point, fanatically loyal to Drax. She had a taste for the finer things in life, and disliked when she had to work with the thuggish Quill .
She and her subordinates were dispatched to capture Dave Palmer's niece Diana and stop her from reaching Bangalla to speak to Captain Phillip Horton about the Sengh Brotherhood . The Sky Bandits intercepted the Orient Clipper midflight and forced it down over the ocean.
Sala and one of her pilots, armed with a Tommygun, boarded the plane. Picking a passenger at random, Sala threatened to kill him unless Diana (who she did not know by sight) gave herself up. To save the man, Diana surrendered. Sala kept her promise not to kill the innocent man, but pistol-whipped Diana unconscious with her Luger out of spite.
The Sky Bandits flew on to Bangalla where they joined up with Quill and his band of treasure hunters, who'd just succeeded in acquiring the first Skull of Touganda . Sala attempted to interrogate Diana, but seemed more interested in her captive's expensive boots, when suddenly the Phantom dropped into the room through a laundry chute. Instantly smitten, Sala kissed him, but he rejected her advances in favor of freeing Diana, who repaid Sala for her earlier roughness by knocking her out.
Although Quill and his men attempted to recapture Diana and kill the Phantom, the duo escaped and Ms. Palmer managed to see Captain Horton after all. Despite this failure, Drax was forgiving of Sala and Quill when they returned to New York with the first Skull. Sala, unaware of the Skull's true importance, polished it with toothpaste during the voyage, much to Drax's amusement.
While in New York, Sala repeatedly expressed anger and frustration that the Phantom chose Diana Palmer over her, and, when Diana again fell into their hands, she enjoyed cruelly needling her about her affection for the purple-clad hero.
When the villains obtained the second Skull and departed with their prisoner for the Devil's Vortex, Sala flew Drax's private plane to the island that served as the stronghold of the Sengh Brotherhood, unaware that the Phantom was hanging onto the pontoon. When the group was captured, Sala actually came to Diana's defense when one of the pirates tried to rape her, advising her, "Us girls should stick together."
She also disliked it when Drax offered Diana to Kabai Sengh in return for the third Skull. Ultimately, Sala saw Drax's true insanity and turned against him, joining Diana and the Phantom in fighting against the pirates. Following the island's destruction, she returned to Bangalla with the two of them in one of the pirates' submarines, and ultimately flew Diana back to New York City after she said her goodbyes to the Phantom.
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Geek Culture | Movies, TV, Comic Books & Video Games
Slam Evil! with 25 years of The Phantom
June 19, 2021 by Ricky Church
Ricky Church looks back at The Phantom as it celebrates its 25th anniversary…
In the 1990s superhero films were few and far between with Batman mostly dominating in the Burton/Schumacher era. There weren’t many other superheroes hitting the big screen in that decade nor were they taken nearly as serious as they are now, being viewed more as goofy entertainment rather than some of the serious and pop culture breaking films we have now. Despite that, there some other superhero films from the 90s that stand out and one of them happens to be celebrating its 25th anniversary this month: The Phantom .
Released in 1996, The Phantom is based upon the 1930s comic strip of the same name and follows Kit Walker, played by Billy Zane, as the mysterious and mythical Phantom who protects the jungle of Bengalla. When a corrupt New York businessman searches for three powerful skulls that could allow him to rule the world, it’s up to The Phantom to stop him. With the help of his ex-girlfriend Diana Palmer, played by Kristy Swanson, The Phantom has to regain the lost skulls before it is too late.
The Phantom serves as a throwback to the pulpy serial adventures of the 1930s, taking direct influence from both the films of that era as well as the original comic strips with many references made to those stories. It is a schlock-filled film complete with cheesy one-liners, swash-buckling swordplay and campy over-the-top acting, yet it has an irresistible charm that makes it very entertaining. It is pure fun from start to finish and something both kids and adults can enjoy with a fast-paced story and series of action set-pieces that never feel boring, whether Phantom’s infiltrating an enemy ship, making an air getaway, jumping from hood to hood on speeding cars in downtown New York or battling a band of murderous pirates. The action is constantly changing to raise the stakes and provide the audience with something fresh each time.
Zane carries the film as its lead hero. He delivers a pretty earnest performance as Kit Walker with a whole lot of charisma. Given the modern superhero films we have now, it’s almost surprising to see Kit is not a brooding and dark hero with a chip on his shoulder who feels the weight of his responsibility, but actually enjoys what he does and does so with both a sense of humour and a smile. When Diana is surprised and slightly terrified to see his pet is a wolf and states that obvious fact, his reply is just a laugh and “I know.” Even when’s out of the Phantom uniform, he exudes charm and confidence, yet also doesn’t necessarily try too hard to hide his identity as, when he’s with Diana at her uncle’s office, he speaks in the same tone and even does the same sort of pose as the Phantom before catching himself. The only moment where Zane turns on a bit more of a serious delivery is his final confrontation with Quill, the man who killed his father but believes The Phantom has simply come back to life. The energy Zane brings to Kit/The Phantom gives the film a very enjoyable flair.
The rest of the cast is just as entertaining. Swanson’s Diana plays against the typical portrayal of a 1930s damsel in distress as a female adventurer who can hold her own fairly well. She’s not afraid to throw a punch nor does she panic when she’s twice kidnapped. She also figures out Kit’s identity as The Phantom on her own (not that he was doing a great job hiding it anyway). Treat Williams is delightfully hammy as Xander Drax, the main villain with delusions of grandeur who, despite his villainous nature, always has a smile on his face and has a very good set of manners and way of speaking. His politesse makes those few moments of violence from him all the more evil as it doesn’t faze him at all – with the exception of complaining of a cramped muscle after throwing a spear into someone’s back.
James Remar’s Quill is also hammy in his villainy, but shifts between threatening and buffoonish as he continuously fails against The Phantom. Catherine Zeta-Jones rounds out the cast as Drax’s henchwoman Sala, a femme fatale who is massively attracted to Phantom (to the point she even says she’ll “claim” the body after Quill kills him) and enjoys being bad, but isn’t totally evil as she abruptly switches sides after Diana asks her – literally – why she is so mean, forcing her to face that armour-piercing question. It does come a bit out of nowhere, but Jones does such a good job as the femme fatale archetype that it works.
Even though it’s rather forgotten next to the likes of other 90s superhero films like the various Batmans and Blade , The Phantom is still an enjoyable flick that is deeply rooted in its comic book material. It works as a throwback to the old serials and as an adaptation as it followed the general storyline and characterizations, a surprising fact for a superhero film in the 90s when studios and filmmakers weren’t too concerned with relying on comics as source material. It is a shame a sequel or the long-talked about reboot with Zane never materialized as The Phantom was ripe for a pretty fun family-friendly franchise, but even with this one movie The Phantom is a great viewing and holds up after over two decades.
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.
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The Phantom: A Forgotten Superhero Film
Sergio Leone and Joe Dante at one stage were linked with The Phantom. We look back at Billy Zane's moment in the superhero spotlight.
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“Where’s your spirit of adventure?” asks Drax, the film’s villain, before setting off in search of the final skull of Touganda. This sums up The Phantom nicely. It might not work, but they went on an adventure and tried something interesting and different. Cinema would be richer with a greater sense of adventure. That said, the spirit of the film being expressed by the villain does serve as an example of what a muddle the team behind The Phantom movie got themselves into.
The 1996 film The Phantom is a bit of an oddity. It gets a lot of stuff really wrong, yet there are other areas where it comes up with a really interesting approach to the challenge of making a comic adaptation. It’s not a film that I particularly enjoyed, but it is a film that I feel a lot of goodwill towards.
Set in the late 1930s, The Phantom tells the story of, er, The Phantom, a superhero moniker passed down to Kit Walker (Billy Zane) by his father, who appears to him throughout the film as a ghost. He has to stop villainous New York mogul Drax and his goons, working as part of the Sengh brotherhood, from bringing together the three Skulls of Touganda, which would afford the dastardly bad guys a great deal of magical power.
“For those who came in late” a voice announces at the start of The Phantom , before a short film piece plays and runs us quickly through the events that have led to the start point. It’s a stylish and efficient way of getting the dreaded superhero origin story out of the way.
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It’s also a good marker for the strange and often frustrating way The Phantom excels at some of the complicated stuff. It looks great, and it’s a lovely idea. Elsewhere the film shows serious signs of padding, so there’s even an argument for giving this scene a little more time. Had it been allowed to play out over a couple of minutes it would have better matched the subsequent film’s pace.
A brief extension of our time on the pirate ship would have been helpful, too, as it’s a great looking set and one that we return to. Had we spent more than a few seconds on it at the start of the film, the pirate ship sequence at the end might have felt more impactful. Broadly, though, The Phantom handles the origin part of the superhero story really well.
Then we move straight onto a fantastic sequence that plays out on a rope bridge. The baddies must get a truck across the rickety looking walkway. They have a young boy with them as a guide, and they all cross on foot before making him drive across. Here, we get tension but no incident, which is great because it means that the tension can be built on for future action sequences. We establish that the bridge struggles to support the truck, which is later paid off with higher stakes, and this sequence is exciting in its own right. We also learn about the bad guys, who happily risk the life of a young boy in order to avoid any personal risk. It’s very economic filmmaking, having one segment serve several different ends.
It’s quite surprising, then, to find economy and invention absent from much of the rest of the film. The hard stuff out of the way (origin told, tone set, hero introduced), you’d think The Phantom would be set to get going. For the next half hour of The Phantom , though, the hero features for maybe five minutes. The rest of the time is spent laboriously setting up the story (which was all but set in the intro), the villains and the supporting characters, changing location and then setting up again. Everything is established, and at a languid pace, except for the main character, which means that when he does finally step in to take over the film, it’s difficult to be interested in him. By the time he becomes a big part of the plot, it feels like the movie doesn’t need him.
That’s not helped by the fact that The Phantom in The Phantom never comes close to convincing. The character is revealed with a series of dramatic costume close ups, which feel more fitting of the 90s era the film was made in than the period it’s set in and paying tribute to. The costume itself looks busy. There’s not much to it: a purple jumpsuit that covers the body, a black leather belt with a skull buckle, a skull ring, and a black eye mask.
The body suit has weird, dark patterns printed on it that make it look murky. More than once I thought something had gone wrong with the color balance on my television, or perhaps that the DVD featured a dodgy transfer, before I realized that it was the patterning on the suit. The Phantom’s look is really simple, as is the character. The film has a calm pace and tone. That such an overly complicated take on the costume was used stands out as strange, and is an example of the film getting the easier stuff wrong.
Then there’s Billy Zane’s performance.
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Zane is excellent in The Phantom as Kit Walker. He looks the part, exudes charisma, and seems natural and at home in old New York. Unfortunately, as The Phantom, he really struggles. Zane’s Phantom is unflappable in the face of danger, but to me he just seems bored. Zane is never able to sell that the character is exciting or fun in the same way that he’s able to sell Walker.
Elsewhere, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ performance further demonstrates how erratic the film is. As a villain, she’s terrific. She looks the part and appears to have a ball vamping it up. It’s no small wonder, then, that the character ends up reformed and assisting Zane’s Phantom by the end of the film. Zeta-Jones’ Sala starts out as a highlight, but finishes the film as a flappy, grinning non-character. What a boring change.
The car chase through New York is a great action set piece. 1930s New York, from the sets to the cars, looks incredible and Zane’s Phantom leaps from car to car before leading a chase on horseback, looking every part the poised action hero. For this brief section of the film, The Phantom comes to life. To borrow from the film’s own dialogue, the ghost walks. Again, though, the success is short lived as it completely deflates the moment it hits the park and you lose that city period setting.
Unfortunately, many more of the action elements of The Phantom don’t even start with a positive. The fight choreography is very poor indeed, with one bizarre attack from The Phantom standing out as particularly odd. It involves the character leaping up, trapping two villains with his thighs, and flinging them, but comes with the unfortunate effect of accidentally having the film’s hero gesture at the audience with his buttocks. Then there’s the cinematography of the pirate ship fight at the end, which is shot so close to the actors that much of the sequence could be taking place anywhere, rather than the brilliantly elaborate set.
Then there’s the bizarre opening, where The Phantom does acrobatics on a tree branch after jumping off his horse. It’s silly, which would be fine if it felt like it fit in the film. Perhaps it fit the source material, but the thing is, if you’re going to do all the things from the comic strip you need to find a tone in this medium that allows you to do so. I don’t think the tone they have here allows for The Phantom to spin around a tree branch without it feeling out of place.
Elsewhere, lots of slow motion and repeating of action shots from different angles creates the impression of a film that’s being padded. It’s just over an hour and a half long, and the end credits seem to last a good while. I question whether the team behind The Phantom felt they had quite enough film.
There’s further evidence of uncertainty behind the scenes. Take the scene where a character is killed with a booby-trapped microscope. Suddenly, the score shrieks at us with a chorus of violins, while the trap causes a cartoonish *kerthink*. It’s heavy handed and stands out as being so different from the rest of the film that it distracts from the actual impact of the action. Of course, had it just not landed it would have been a forgotten moment. As it stands, the clumsy, overegged solution makes the scene one of the more memorable parts of the film.
We can’t know whether the sound in this instance is so because the film didn’t work, or if the film doesn’t work because of the sound design. Either way, it suggests a lack of confidence in the moment. But what we’re talking about with The Phantom is a movie so lacking in confidence that didn’t even trust its leading man to lead the film.
The nervousness is understandable. The Phantom is a film out of step with the comic adaptations of the time. Consider the neon tracksuit of a film that is 1997’s Batman and Robin (clothing wise, The Phantom is more like cinematic knitwear), or the sleazy 1996 picture Barb Wire (cinematic used pants bought off the internet).
The recent documentary The Death of Superman Lives , which explores the ill-fated 90s Superman film that collapsed prior to production, offers a fascinating insight into what was being made at the time, and how. A gentler, 1930s set adventure film in 1996 was a bold proposition. Especially so in the wake of the tepid reception, both critically and financially, 1994’s The Shadow (another 1930s set action film) had received.
The Phantom spent years in development, with filmmakers Sergio Leone, Joel Schumacher, and Joe Dante involved at various points. Perhaps the lengthy journey to the screen caused a lack of momentum or left too much time for second guessing. The film was eventually taken into production with director Simon Wincer, an experienced filmmaker, although one without the same pedigree of film on his CV as the likes of Leone ( The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly ), Schumacher ( The Lost Boys ) or Dante ( Gremlins ). Wincer’s previous film had been Operation Dumbo Drop , while the director had also helmed the tittersomely titled whale flick Free Willy and the cult robot movie D.A.R.Y.L. (Data Analysing Robot Youth Lifeform). Not long after, he would direct Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles , which I shouldn’t expect you’ll be seeing covered on this site any time soon (editor’s note: muhahahaha).
The Phantom brought back less than half its reported $45m budget at the box office.
Of course, those waiting for a decent adventure movie set in the 1930s would only have to endure a short wait. In 1999 Steven Sommers’ The Mummy was released. Trusted with a budget almost double that of The Phantom (in truth, The Mummy looks ten times more expensive), Sommers’ film is a crackling, pacey affair with a brilliant lead turn from Brendan Fraser. The parallels between the two, from the flashback openings through to mooted director Joe Dante, are notable. The big difference is that where The Phantom limped apologetically across the screen before shuffling away, the The Mummy stormed both the screen and the box office. In The Mummy , the jokes land, the characters are memorable and the action sequences are thrilling. The success of The Mummy , which brought in more than $400m from around the world and would be followed up by both sequels, spin-offs, and a theme park attraction (and a particularly fun one at that), is no injustice. It’s the better film by far.
The Phantom , then, looks nice and works in spots, but never really gets going and suffers from a lack of nerve. It’s not a film that deserves a kicking, as the team behind it tried to do something interesting, but it’s also not one that benefits from reassessment.
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Film / The Phantom (1996)
"For those who came in late..."
The Phantom is a 1996 film based on the long-running comic strip of the same name . It stars Billy Zane as the 21st Phantom, Patrick McGoohan as his father the 20th Phantom, Kristy Swanson as his love interest Diana Palmer, Treat Williams as the villain Xander Drax, and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Dark Action Girl Sala.
The film provides examples of:
- Action Girl : Diana.
- Actor Allusion : Casey Siemaszko portrays Quill's henchman, Morgan. Siemaszko and Billy Zane, the Phantom's actor, previously played Biff Tannen's gangmembers 3-D and Match, respectively, in the Back to the Future franchise.
- Adaptation Dye-Job : Diana has much lighter hair than in the comics, possibly to help distinguish her from the raven-haired Sala. In several of the black-and-white comics she (Diana) is in fact stated to have red hair, but the color comics tend to keep it black.
- Adaptation Expansion : Rob MacGregor's Novelization contains a very lengthy prologue, expanding greatly on the one from the movie, telling about the journey of the merchant ship Miranda , where it came from and where it was going, etc., before its fateful encounter with the Sengh Brotherhood that left the captain's son (who eventually becomes the first Phantom) the sole survivor.
- Adaptation Name Change : Kabai Singh and the Singh Brotherhood become Kabai Sengh and the Sengh Brotherhood.
- All Women Love Shoes : Sala takes a real liking to Diana's boots.
- Artistic License � Physics : Hero's spine doesn't break when two adult humans jump off a low-flying plane (so having the added momentum) and land on his back.
- Badass Biker : Sala and her gang are the aviatrix subtrope.
- Badass Longcoat : Once Quill is back in New York City, he changes into a suit and a black leather trenchcoat that he retains until the very end of the movie.
- Beam-O-War : When Drax tries to destroy Phantom with a death ray from his completed skull set, he answers with a ray of his own from his ring .
- The Bermuda Triangle : The Devil's Vortex is a serial-numbers-filed-off version of the Bermuda Triangle, a region of ocean that has a reputation for ships disappearing in it; this turns out to be because the home base of the Sengh Brotherhood is in the middle of it, and they take strong measures against anybody who gets too close.
- Big Bad : Xander Drax is the main antagonist of the film.
- Big "NO!" : Breen yells "No" when the Phantom grabs him by the shirt collar just as he's about to escape and rams him headfirst into a tree.
- Blasting It Out of Their Hands : What the Phantom mainly uses his two handguns for.
- Bound and Gagged : Diana, who is held trussed up by Sala and Quill
- Captain Obvious : Diana: Your dog's a wolf! Phantom: I know.
- Cave Behind the Falls : The home of the Phantom is in a valley that can only be entered through a tunnel hidden by a waterfall.
- Chekhov's Exhibit : One of the Skulls of Touganda can be found at a museum exhibit. One that both the bad guys and good guys happen to visit at the same time.
- Clark Kenting : The Phantom's body language hardly changes when he's being Kit Walker, and his voice not at all; despite this, nobody seems to realise that they're the same person even after encountering both of them in quick succession. (Well, Diana figures it out eventually, and before Kit makes up his mind to tell her; but seriously, how is it not immediately obvious?) Diana figuring out the Phantom's secret identity is foreshadowed in the scene at the newspaper office where Kit talks and poses exactly like the Phantom did just a few scenes earlier, before realizing what he's doing and breaking the pose.
- Continuity Cameo : The film includes a number of passing references to continuity elements from the comics, including names on background signage and cameo characters (such as Corporal Weeks of the Jungle Patrol).
- Cool Old Guy : The previous Phantom was actively adventuring into his early sixties, and now advises his son from beyond the grave.
- Crystal Skull : Three of them, silver, gold and jade, none of which is actual crystal.
- Damsel in Distress : Diana, who is kidnapped several times in the film and faces a great deal of danger.
- Dead Person Conversation : The Phantom has several conversations with his dead father, who acts as his Spirit Advisor . At least one of the conversations includes the ghost telling him something he didn't already know, suggesting it's a real ghost and not just his imagination. In another Guran walks in on Kit claiming he heard voice s � plural. Al only hears the Phantom's side of the conversation in the cab, though.
- Defiant Captive : Diana Palmer is kidnapped twice in the course of the story, but she is anything but weak and frightened. Instead, she's a wealthy treasure hunter with a taste for adventure in the Indiana Jones mold. When she's kidnapped for the first time, for instance, she is not scared but very angry: assuming she's being held for ransom, she declares that "you'll not get a red cent" from her family.
- Defiant to the End : Despite stabbing the 20th Phantom in the back, Quill walks away from the encounter with a skull-shaped brand on his face from the Phantom's ring, making it pretty clear that the old man went down swinging.
- Dem Bones : Styles, one of the thieves, has the misfortune of being strangled to death by a skeleton that inexplicably comes to life.
- Die Laughing : Drax laughs when he gets killed by the Phantom's skull ring .
- Dressed in Layers : The Phantom wears his purple outfit under his street clothes. At one point, he uses his discarded overclothes to distract some mooks.
- Dwindling Party : In the opening scene, Quill, along with his henchmen Styles, Morgan and Breen, attempt to search for the silver Skull of Touganda. However, when Styles discovers the skull, he gets strangled to death. Quill, Morgan and Breen attempt to escape, but the Phantom pursues them. He sends Breen crashing into a tree and after he reaches Quill's car, the Phantom punches out Morgan and sends him out of his car. Quill is the only one to escape Bengalla with the Silver Skull, while Morgan and Breen are captured by the Jungle Patrol.
- Establishing Character Moment : When the Phantom is first introduced, he uses his gun to blast Breen's gun out of his hand and rams him into a tree before pursuing Quill in his truck as the latter makes his escape.
- Establishing Character Music : The Phantom's main theme is first heard when Quill, Breen and Morgan encounter him in the jungle.
- Even Evil Has Standards : Crime boss Ray Zephro is the only one to opt out of Drax's plan. Zephro: Count me out. This is wrong. Skulls? Forces of darkness? This isn't right. I was an altar boy, for the love of Pete, at St. Timothy's.
- Eye Scream : When Drax finds out that librarian Dr. Fleming has been ratting on him to Diana's uncle, he asks him to look into a binocular microscope. When Fleming turns the adjustment knobs, blades shoot out of the eyepieces and blind him.
- Charlie gets shot at by Kabai Sengh's cannon and falls into the pool .
- Kabai Sengh loses a fight with the Phantom and falls into a shark pool where he is Eaten Alive , causing the water to turn red from the blood and his clothes are shredded .
- Quill gets inadvertently blasted into dust by Drax's skulls while fighting with the Phantom .
- Drax is disintegrated in a fiery blast courtesy of the Phantom's ring which has the fourth skull .
- Faux Affably Evil : Xander Drax has impeccable manners even when he's killing or maiming underlings in horrible ways, which really makes it worse.
- Flynning : The sword fight scenes at the end of the movie are (painfully) full of this.
- Foreshadowing : The prologue displays the three skulls of Touganda, and the fourth skull on the shaman's ring .
- Genteel Interbellum Setting : The film is set in the thirties, with talk about the brewing war.
- Quill's partner in the opening skull hunt gets a matching one from the current Phantom.
- Gotta Catch Them All : The villain is tracking down the three "Skulls of Touganda", which will grant him immense power. There is a fourth skull, on the Phantom's Ring of Power .
- One of Sala's favourite fighting moves.
- Diana also does it to a Mook on the ship.
- High-Heel�Face Turn : After growing angry with the way the pirates were treating them both, including rape threats, Sala abruptly switches gears and starts helping Diana on the grounds that "us girls gotta stick together."
- Hood Hopping : The Phantom does this while pursuing Drax's car in New York.
- Horrible Judge of Character : Kit's father admits he was a "lousy judge of character" when it came to his murderer Quill.
- Improbable Aiming Skills : The Phantom somehow manages to shoot swords out of opponents hands multiple times with two guns while not using sights and with his arms crossed .
- In Medias Res : The film begins and ends smack in the middle of the 21st Phantom's career. Backstory is provided by dialogue and the movie ends with the romantic pair going their separate ways again (but with Diana planning to return later). Just a regular week for The Phantom.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice : Drax does this to Ray Zephro with an African spear when he "wants out."
- In the Back : Quill stabbed the previous Phantom in the back, both literally and figuratively.
- It's Personal : Said word-for-word by Diana when she punches out Sala.
- It's Personal with the Dragon : The Phantom opposes Drax out of duty and principle, but Drax's enforcer Quill is the man who killed his father.
- Jungle Drums : The Bangalla natives use message drums to summon the Phantom when trouble is brewing.
- Legacy Immortality : Just like the comic, the current Phantom is really the son of the previous Phantom, and so on back to the original.
- Large Ham : Treat Williams as Xander Drax. Drax: [elated] Unbelievable!!!
- Laughably Evil : Much of Drax's characterization comes from the earlier, campier versions of the movie, making him this kind of villain compared to the rest of the cast (who, Zeta-Jones aside, were all trying to play it a little more straight-faced).
- Leave Him to Me! : During the battle with the Sengh Brotherhood, their leader claims the right to be the one to kill the Phantom, and even stabs one of his own men who's about to beat him to it.
- Leitmotif : David Newman composed the brass fanfare for the titular character and it is featured several times, most notably the opening fight with Quill and his men.
- Marquee Alter Ego : In the comics, the Phantom's face is never shown clearly, even on the rare occasions when he is seen to take the mask off. This is not the case with Billy Zane's face in the movie.
- Mood Whiplash : In his first conversation with his father, Kit tells him that he screwed up. His father comforts him, saying everyone makes mistakes. Then he reveals that he lost a Skull of Touganda to the Sengh Brotherhood. Suddenly his father passes him the Idiot Ball .
- Mooks : The pirates are particularly bad. They've likely been doing this for decades and they are easily defeated in a sword fight by Sala and Diana, women who've likely never even picked up a sword before.
- The Movie : The Phantom's live-action feature film debut.
- Movie Superheroes Wear Black : Spectacularly averted! The Phantom's costume in the movie is even designed to "change color" depending on the lighting. It can shift from bright to dark purple, red, grey, or blue in a Shout-Out to how various publishers over the world change the color of his costume based of preference.
- Murderous Thighs : A Rare Male Example . The Phantom does this to two Mooks in Drax's building.
- Mystical Jade : The film features a Doomsday Device consisting of three mystic skulls: Gold, Silver, and Jade.
- Nasal Trauma : Breen ends up breaking his nose when the Phantom rams him headfirst into a tree.
- Nature Hero : The Phantom is really good with animals.
- Not What I Signed on For : Ray Zephro decides that hunting for occult skulls is not what he signed on for. Drax doesn't take it well.
- Not Listening to Me, Are You? : Diana talking to her mother. Lily Palmer: How are you anyway, sweetheart? Diana Palmer: I've contracted malaria, mother. Lily Palmer: That's nice.
- Novelization : A very good, suitably pulpy one by Rob MacGregor, which contains loads and loads of Adaptation Expansion .
- Quill when Styles gets strangled to death after the latter discovers the Silver Skull.
- Quill, Morgan and Breen when they see the Phantom coming for them as they are escaping the jungle. Morgan even yells "Oh, shit!" when the Phantom disarms Breen's gun. Breen has another one seconds later when the Phantom rams him into a tree.
- Quill and Morgan when they see the Phantom has pursued them to their truck.
- The Phantom and Zak when they realize that the bridge is going to collapse.
- Two of Quill's henchmen when they are captured by the Bengalla tribesmen.
- Charlie right before getting blasted by the pirate cannon .
- Kabai Sengh when he gets eaten alive by the sharks .
- Quill when he is cornered by the Phantom and later when he gets disintegrated by the Skulls Drax is holding .
- Older Hero vs. Younger Villain : The prior Phantom was murdered by Quill, who is easily young enough to be his son (Quill's age is never addressed, and Patrick McGoohan was twenty-five years older than James Remar).
- Opening Narration : The prologue is narrated by Kit Walker's father about how their ancestor would become the titular Phantom: "It all began a very long time ago when a merchant ship was set upon by pirates of the Sengh Brotherhood. A small boy watched helplessly as his father was killed by the pirate leader, the evil Kabai Sengh. He jumped overboard and was washed ashore on a mysterious jungle island called Bengalla. It seemed like a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire, but the Touganda tribesmen meant the boy no harm. They scooped him up and carried him to their village, and that night, in an ancient ceremony of fire and drums, the tribal shaman presented the boy wlth a ring of great significance. Then and there, the boy understood that he was destined to avenge his father's death by fighting piracy, greed and cruelty in all their forms. And when he grew to be a man, he became the Phantom."
- Outside Ride : The Phantom does this on the villains' truck near the beginning, and later hitches a ride to the showdown on the landing pontoon of Sala's seaplane.
- A Pirate 400 Years Too Late : The Sengh brotherhood has been around for over 400 years.
- Pirate Girl : Sala.
- Plummet Perspective : Used during the first crossing of the rope bridge.
- Pragmatic Adaptation : Attempting to tie together three very different (albeit classic) storylines from the comics into a coherent whole and still trying to maintain the Kit Walker/Diana Palmer romance. The reason the film fails is because it collapses under its own ambition.
- Purple Is Powerful : The Phantom wears purple.
- Ring of Power : The Phantom's ring which has the fourth Skull of Touganda .
- Rope Bridge : Which inevitably kicks off an action sequence when it starts coming apart as it's being crossed.
- Schmuck Bait : "Oh, uh, one more thing if you don't mind. I'd like your professional opinion on something under this microscope."
- Shirtless Scene : A nice long scene early on the Skull Cave with a buff and shirtless Billy Zane, under the pretext of his manservant treating a recent minor stab wound. The scene is long enough for him to have two separate conversations. After that, it's up to your imagination.
- Shout-Out : The Palmer family's butler, Falkmoore, is named in honor of Lee Falk and Ray Moore, the writer and first artist of the comic strip.
- Sky Pirate : Sala's crew.
- Spirit Advisor : Kit's dad appears to him to goad him on his quest. A cabby driving the Phantom around is freaked out when Kit starts arguing with himself. He also doubles as a Character Narrator .
- Stating the Simple Solution : When Kit and Diana find the jade Skull of Touganda at the Museum of World History, Diana suggests contacting an acquaintance of hers to have the skull retrieved. Kit however simply smashes the glass surrounding the skull and grabs it. To be fair, Drax was only seconds behind him, so her plan would have failed anyway.
- Threatening Shark : There are sharks circling around the wreck that Kabai Sengh uses as his throne.
- Thrown from the Zeppelin : When Ray Zephro voices his dissatisfaction with Drax's plans and tries to leave the room, he gets a spear thrown on his back.
- Totally Radical : Thankfully averted in the film itself, but played very straight with the tag line: "SLAM EVIL!"
- Too Dumb to Live : Drax stays fixated on wielding the skulls, even after hearing about a fourth skull more powerful than all three are and after displaying trouble controlling the skulls. When he hears about the Phantom's skull, a legitimate threat, he dismisses it as a cheap jungle trick, to his misfortune.
- Two-Fisted Tales : They did get that right at least.
- Unfinished Business : The ghost of the previous Phantom is still hanging around because of this. He doesn't mind having been murdered so much — it's an occupational hazard — but he can't rest easy until he knows that the Phantom line has been secured for another generation.
- Ungrateful Bastard : Quill was once saved by the 20th Phantom, after he was attacked by a rabid monkey. Quill said that he would lead him to the Sengh Brotherhood's hideout. Instead, he stabbed the Phantom in the back, stole his belt and took it to the Brotherhood, who initiated him.
- Upper-Class Twit : Diana's unwanted admirer Jimmy Wells, whose idea of a business trip is coming into town to be measured for a new suit.
- Vertical Kidnapping : The Phantom evades some pursuing mooks by riding through the Tree Top Town of the Rope People, who snare the mooks and dangle them high above the ground.
- Viewers Are Geniuses : One complaint about the film is that it assumes the audience already knows who The Phantom is and what he does. The introduction has a very condensed version of the origin story (taken almost directly from the first panel of many of the comics) but other than that it pretty much starts in the middle of the 21st Phantom's career with no backstory.
- Villainous Gold Tooth : Morgan, one of the thieves assisting Big Bad Quill at the beginning, has a gold tooth.
- Villains Out Shopping : Dark Action Girl Sala pauses her interrogation of Diana to admire Diana's leather boots and ask where she bought them so that Sala can buy some of her own.
- While chasing Quill and his men early on, the Phantom grabs Breen and rams him into a tree, breaking his nose.
- When the Phantom and Diana are being pursued by Quill and his men, he jumps over a tree log. Seconds later, the car that Quill is on crashes into the tree and sends him and one of his mooks flying to the ground.
- We Can Rule Together : Drax has two skulls and when he meets Captain Sengh, who owns the third skull, he proposes an alliance. Sengh isn't interested in world domination as being a pirate suits him fine, and because there is a fourth skull that masters the other three, he considers Drax's offer to be worthless.
- Played straight with Drax. He throws a spear through his disloyal lieutenant and he's mostly concerned about the accidental damage to the wood paneling on the wall.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz : Xander Drax. Drax: It begins and ends with an X.
- Yellow Peril : Kabai Sengh and the Sengh Brotherhood. About half the modern members we see are white, though.
- You Killed My Father : Quill is the man who killed the previous Phantom. He spends much of the movie disturbed by the discovery that the man he killed is apparently still in business. Kit explains the truth to him at the onset of their inevitable final duel.
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Movie (1996) French title : Le fantôme du Bengale
Starring: Billy Zane (The Phantom / Kit Walker) Kristy Swanson (Diana Palmer) Treat Williams (Xander Drax) Catherine Zeta-Jones (Sala) James Remar (Quill) Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Kabai Sengh)
The masked vigilante known as the Phantom must stop corrupt businessman Xander Drax from gathering the Skulls of Touganda, which will allow him to take over the world.
- 1 Martin M-130
- 2 Grumman G-164 Sea Cat
- 3 Beechcraft D18S
- 4 Fleetwings Sea Bird
- Martin M-130
Diana flies to Bengalla aboard this Pan Am clipper, but it gets downed by the Sky Bandits. Only three were built: the China Clipper, the Philippine Clipper and the Hawaii Clipper. "Orient Clipper" is fictionous.
Grumman G-164 Sea Cat
Biplanes used by the Sky Bandits, Drax's female pilots. The Phantom and Diana steal one and escape in it. It crashes into a cliff after they have to bail out mid-flight when the plane runs out of fuel. Sala flies Diana back to New York in the second one at the end of the film. Registration hidden for the movie; look at the discussion tab for the full story of this aircraft.
Drax's private plane which he uses to fly to the Devil's Vortex. The Phantom hitches a ride by hanging onto one of the pontoons. It gets destroyed along with the island in a volcanic eruption. False registration NC-1042 (real one N-1042H). Same aircraft in other movies at IMPDb: Frequently Seen Aircraft .
Fleetwings Sea Bird
Seaplane in the foreground. Registration N16793, it's the first of five built during the thirties. Seen docked at the pier Drax's plane takes off from.
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Character » The Phantom appears in 8776 issues .
Created in 1936 by Lee Falk, The Phantom dwells deep in jungles of the African nation of Bangalla. The "Ghost Who Walks" has battled pirates and criminals for more than 400 years!
Summary short summary describing this character..
The Phantom last edited by LSROTJ on 03/22/21 11:32PM View full history
During the sixteenth century , a man named Christopher Walker was sailing on the seas of Africa with his father, when they fell prey to pirates' attack. The pirates slaughtered the ship's crew and blew up the ship. The only survivor was young Christopher. He was washed up onto the Bangallan Beach. He then took his father's skull and swore an oath upon it, " I swear to devote my life to the destruction of piracy, greed, cruelty and injustice! And my sons, and their sons, shall follow me! "
Thus originated the first Phantom. He became friends with the various local tribes and dedicated his life to fighting injustice and cruelty. The violet costume was standardized by this Christopher ' Kit ' Walker.
In 1936, Lee Falk created a mysterious costumed crime fighter on the request King Features Newspaper Syndicate to create a new feature. It began as a daily newspaper comic strips on February 17th, 1936. He planned the story for initial few months and then drew them himself for the first two weeks as sample strips. Lee Falk was inspired by different myths and legends as that of the well known El Cid and King Arthur and some of the fictional characters as Zorro, Tarzan and Mowgli. Initially, the Phantom's alter ego was a rich playboy by name Jimmy Wells. But in his later stories that introduced the Singh Brotherhood , moved the Phantom to the jungle and making him more of a jungle legend. There were many other fictional characters that carried the name "Phantom" such as The Phantom Detective and The Phantom of Opera. So he thought about calling this masked man as "Gray Ghost" but somehow he liked the name "The Phantom" better.
In A&E American Cable TV documentary about the Phantom, Falk mentioned that he was inspired by Greek busts for the idea of the Phantom's pupils not being shown through his mask. The Greek busts had no pupils and Falk thought that gave them an inhuman and interesting look. Falk, in another interview mentioned that the skin-tight costume was inspired by the popular Robin Hood , who wore such a costume in the movie and stage adaptations.
The current Phantom is the 21st of the line. After a long courtship he married his childhood sweetheart Diana Palmer in a lavish 1977 jungle ceremony notably attended by two African presidents and fellow Lee Falk creation Mandrake the Magician . Soon afterwords Diana gave birth to twins, a boy named Christopher "Kit" Walker-Palmer and daughter Heloise Walker-Palmer. He is primarily assisted in his adventures by a tamed pet wolf called Devil and a white horse named Hero , whose speed is legendary. His best friend since childhood is Guran , the now current chief of the Pygmy Bandar tribe.
The 21st Phantom remains a devoted family man knowing that in his line of work, whatever time he has with his family is precious, but always holding strong the family tradition of fighting injustice wherever it may take him. Their young son, Kit, is in training to someday take the sacred "Oath of the Skull" and become the 22nd Phantom.
The Phantom is known as " The Ghost Who Walks ", and is believed to have lived for more than 400 years . But in reality, this is just a myth. The Phantom is an ordinary human being. Almost every Phantom has married a woman of Royal Blood. They have had sons, most of whom have shared the name, Kit Walker. When a father Phantom retires from his work as Phantom, his son takes his place, swears the oath and becomes the new Phantom. Then the father is buried inside a secret burial chamber inside the Skull Cave .
But it is not only the son who becomes the Phantom. Evidences of female Phantoms have also been found. Sometimes a daughter would take on the task of the Phantom in a similar Phantom outfit. This way the Phantom lives on, and has become a jungle legend.
The Ghost Who Walks : When the Phantom is in his outfit and battling injustice, he is known as such. In this form, jungle people and other tribes know him to be a ghost who has lived for more than 400 years. In this form, the Phantom patrols the Bangallan area with his base of operations being deep inside the jungle.
Mr. Walker : This is the manner in which the Phantom presents himself to the outside world. He wears a long overcoat with blue trousers and a hat. His face is concealed in dark glasses. No one even knows his first name, all call him 'Mr. Walker'.
Mysterious Commander : Unknown to The Jungle Patrol, the Phantom is the Commander in Chief of the unit. He leaves messages and orders inside the Colonel's locker which he accesses via a secret tunnel. No one knows who the sender is, so they refer to him as "the Mysterious Commander".
Julie Walker : Read Julie Walker
The Phantom - Versions
Over time, many publishers had published The Phantom in many different versions. Sometimes as himself, the 21st Phantom, some stories on his various ancestors and some stories based on his son Kit Walker and daughter Heloise Walker .
Gold Key, Charlton, King Features Syndicate
To be updated
DC Comics (1988-89)
Between 1988 and 1989, DC Comics published a 13 issue series of the Phantom. These were more close to the canonical Phantom as created by Lee Falk but with new short stories spanning one or two issues each. DC for some reason stopped publishing any stories on The Phantom after this series.
Marvel - The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks (1995)
In 1995 Marvel published a 3 issue mini series with this title. The Phantom was having the aggressive nature similar to that of various other Marvel characters.
Unlike the regular version we all know, Phantom illustrated here is more strong, opinionated. He is more modern involving strong bullet repelling armor suit and geared up with advanced infrared view finder and collapsible special armor within the gloves that can resist a sword hit.
The bullet repelling armor is something that has been missing in many Phantom versions and truly gets the character close to being a "Ghost". The story spins around with lot of politics going around the Bengallan area and involves bureaucrats in big conspiracy while the Phantom is keen on resolving issues in favor of Bengali population.
Phantom 2040 (24th Phantom)
Phantom 2040 was introduced as part of the 1994 television series was the 24th Phantom, the grandson of Kit. In a futuristic Metropia, the new home, the Phantom fights against the Maximum Inc., an evil organization set to control the world.
Dynamite introduced the son of the original 21st Century Phantom, Kit Walker as the new Phantom. Dubbed as the 22nd Phantom, Kit has given up the Phantom lineage and seemed to have indulged in philanthropic activities in New York .
However several inevitable incidents bring him back to be the new Phantom and we get our new tech savvy, stronger and more angry Phantom that we have ever seen. He has the special invisibility power by which he is more convincing to be ghost than ever before.
The ongoing story arc is in progress revealing what has become of his father, the 21st Phantom.
Read more about him here: Kit Walker
Egmont started publishing self-produced material in Sweden and Norway around the 1960s. The current task-force behind the 21st Phantom stories, " Team Fantomen " creates Phantom stories for this publishing. The first man to wear the skull ring, and a mask similar to the Phantom, was a Knight named Christophe D' Errant who lived around 1160 to 1210 A.D., during the Holy Crusades. A Skull Throne was discovered in France.
Equipment and Abilities
Peak Human Conditioning: Every version of the Phantom is trained from birth in the fighting arts and is cross-trained in numerous other athletic disciplines. As a result, each Phantom is as strong, fast, agile, flexible, and enduring as humanly possible.
Master Marksman: Each iteration of the Phantom is expertly trained in all weapons, especially firearms. As a result, the Phantom almost never misses his mark.
All Phantoms in the lineage wear a belt with weapons attached to it. It has a skull mark at the center of the buckle. Centuries ago Phantom’s belt had a scabbard attached holding a sword. The Phantom is known for his adept swordsmanship.
The 21st Phantom usually carries around a single dagger and twin .45 pistols attached on either side of the gun belt. The Phantom is a sharp shooter; he never misses a mark.
Once the 20th Phantom was killed by a gangster Ramu who back stabs him and snatches his gun belt as his prize and proof of killing. The 21st Phantom finds the killer and retrieves it back and restores it in the Skull Cave in one of Lee Falk ’s famous stories about the gun belt.
The Phantom wears two rings that can permanently mark whomever they touch. The ring on his left hand features four overlapping sabres forming a cross known as "The Good Mark". Those touched by it are under The Phantom's protection and the mark itself is said to give the wearer amazing luck.
The right hand ring bears a Skull, and those that receive its mark (usually via a strong right hook) are branded a victim of The Phantom's wrath and bad luck seems to then follow them around. The 21st Phantom is skeptical of the mystical qualities of his rings, but they are legendary amongst the natives of Bangalla and the criminal underworld.
Old Jungle Sayings
There is no story of The Phantom where the people of jungle quote an "Old Jungle Saying" that either they heard from their ancestors or from old man Mozz . Below are some of the popular sayings that linger in the minds of people, both good and bad, in and around the deep woods of Bengalla .
- "The Phantom has a thousand eyes and a thousand ears."
- "The Phantom can be at many places at once."
- "You never find the Phantom, he finds you."
- "Nobody argues with the Phantom and wins"
- "Never point a gun at the Phantom"
- "When the Phantom asks, you answer."
- "No man can refuse the voice of the Phantom."
- "The voice of the angry Phantom freezes a tiger's blood."
- "Better to stare into the tiger's eyes than into the cold eyes of the angry Phantom."
- "The Phantom will never refuse a challenge."
- "Phantom, rough on roughnecks"
The Phantom Country
The "Phantom Country" is the name given to the fictional country of Bengali , as referred to in the early editions of the Phantom comics. This consists of various significant locations surrounding the "Deep Woods". Most of the Phantom's adventures are in these locations. However there are times when the Phantom travels out of the jungle just like an ordinary man and walk the streets of cities around the world or even over the sea.
This was the first live-action Phantom movie from Paramount pictures. The movie casts Billy Zane as The Phantom, Kristy Swanson is Diana Palmer , Catherine Zeta-Jones as Sala, the leader of the an all-female gang of air pirates known as the Sky Band and Treat Williams is the villain, Xander Drax. Simon Wincer has directed the movie and story by Jeffrey Boam, the writer of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. On the outset, The Phantom is to stop Drax from obtaining a weapon of doom, the legendary "Skulls of Touganda". There is also the Singh Brotherhood, a gang of pirates one of whom was the killer of the 21st Phantom's father. The 21st Phantom recovers his father's gunbelt from the brotherhood and avenges his father's murder as cited in Lee Falk 's popular story of "The Belt". The movie was filmed on different locations like Australia, Thailand and Los Angeles.
For the title role, Bruce Campbell was another option but Billy Zane was a huge fan of the comic strip and was earlier being introduced to the Australian Frew comics on the set of Dead Calm. Once he finally got the role, Zane prepared by pumping iron for nearly a year to fill the Phantom's costume. He refused to wear a costume with molded muscles like the Batman costume. He also carefully studied the comic panels to get a good understanding of the character's attitude and body language.
Defenders of the Earth
An animated TV series was telecast in 1986. This has a team of characters from King Features Syndicate - Flash Gordon , the Phantom, and Mandrake the Magician fighting the villain, Ming the Merciless in the year 2015. Also featured are the children of the main character league. Rick Gordon , Jedda Walker (daughter of the Phantom), Kshin (adopted son of Mandrake), Mandrake's assistant Lothar , and Lothar's son L.J.
The show ended after completing 65 episodes.
There was also short comic book series published by Star Comics (reprint of Marvel Comics).
The credit of the series goes to multiple directors and story writers.
The Phantom 2040 was a animated series telecast between 1994-1996. It is the year 2040 and 24 generations of Phantoms have passed by. The "Ghost Who Walks" continues to fight against crime and injustice in year 2040 as the 24th Phantom. In this time period, the Phantom has now moved to a new jungle "Metropia" which is a surviving homes for mankind after the resource wars. Kit Walker continues the Phantom's legacy, this time against Maximum Incorporation, a wealthy syndicate determined to destroy a small part of the world even if it means to destroy the rest of it. The new Phantom also fights against terrorists of free orbital movement, the mystery of his father's death and various other thugs with their own path of crime. Sagan Cruz is his girlfriend who is part of a special police unit that is charged with hunting down the Phantom. All in all this is an incredible mix of science fiction but still retaining the Phantom's legendary traits of a jungle.
Phantom 2040: the ghost who walks.
The animated movie Phantom 2040: The Ghost Who Walks, from Hearst Entertainment, Inc./ King Features Syndicate, Inc.is based on the popular television series, Phantom 2040. In the year 2040, the fate of the planet depends on the intelligence and courage of the young Kit Walker who is now the Phantom in the year 2040. He must battle the evil and destructive Rebecca Madison who plans to destroy all of the earth's resources. The Phantom can stop her only be the way through virtual worlds and "remote brains".
Phantom 2040 video game was developed by Hearst Entertainment and published by Viacom in 1995 for the Sega Genesis, the Super Nintendo and Game Gear. It is based on the Phantom of 2040 theme. Maximum, Inc. is all set to control the world. As head of Maximum, Rebecca Madison will stop at nothing to overpower anything on the way to control the world. Unless the Phantom can overpower her. The Phantom has to find the evil Rebecca in the vast city of Metropia fighting his way through Vicious bosses and hordes of programmed humanoid robots (BIOTS).
He has heavy-duty weapons including a smart gun, inductance rope, homing missile among many others. He can use two weapons at once to double the chances of survival. User can control the Phantom's destiny while going through more than 60 levels.
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Cast & crew.
'90s superhero adventure has action violence, profanity.
- Average 5.1
© 1996 BY PARAMOUNT PICTURES. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright © 2023 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
Tv/streaming, collections, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, the phantom.
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The purple-clad "Ghost Who Walks'' stars in a rousing jungle adventure, in one of the best-looking movies in a long time. Billy Zane stars as the Phantom, Treat Williams is the evil Xander Drax, Kristy Swanson is the plucky Diana, and the stunts and special effects are nonstop. The movie is wonderfully entertaining, red-blooded and rousing, and with a production design that makes it uncommonly handsome.
The movie is also smashingly entertaining on the story level. The Phantom, created in 1936 by Lee Falk, is said to be the first of the superheroes, and the movie is true to his origins. He doesn't have the absurd powers of Superman or the catlike grace of Batman, and when he lands on the hood of a speeding truck, the film doesn't do it with alight pounce, but with a heavy thud, as of muscle meeting metal.
Although he's known to those who fear him as “The Ghost Who Walks,” he isn't immortal; he's the 21st in a line of Phantoms, who trace their heritage back to the first Phantom's vow to fight evil and piracy. (How the Phantoms have found 20 brides willing to live in the Skull Cave is a question not answered in this film.) The film stars Billy Zane as the Phantom, a.k.a.mild-mannered Kit Walker. His fury is roused when an evil industrialist named Xander Drax (Treat Williams) schemes to bring together three priceless skulls that, when assembled, will give him power over mankind. Fighting against Drax's schemes is a heroic newspaper publisher ( Bill Smitrovich ), who dispatches his niece, Diana Palmer (Kristy Swanson), to the jungle in search of one of the skulls. Phantom fans of course know Diane eventually becomes Mrs. Phantom, bu there they are meeting again for the first time after her college courtship with Kit that ended when he mysteriously disappeared.
The movie's plot is essentially a series of adventure sequences.
There's an aerial dogfight between a Pan American Clipper and two red biplanes. Two perilous crossings by truck over a disintegrating suspension bridge. A strangling by skeleton. A chase in which the Phantom and Diane successfully drop from a plane and land on the back of Hero, the white stallion, just before the plane crashes into a mountain.
Anda showdown inside an eerie mountain cave, where members of the Singh Brotherhood and Drax battle for the skulls against the Phantom and the forces of good. At the end, as a bonus, there's a really neat miniature submarine.
The director, Simon Wincer , orchestrates these events just a hair this side of parody. He and Billy Zane find the right tone for the Phantom: bemused,all-knowing, wise, irreverent. “No smoking in the skull cave,” he says at one point. And when Diana tries to run the show: “Fine, go ahead--it's your rescue.”The movie's best line is said by a bad guy from the big city who now finds himself, in brown suit and fedora, inside a menacing jungle cavern: “Skulls!Powers of darkness! This isn't right! I was an altar boy, for the love of Pete,at St. Timothy's! The only power I believe in comes out of the barrel of a gun!”Zane plays the Phantom as essentially an ordinary, if talented, human who wears a purple suit and an eye-mask (of course Diana can’t recognize him when he'swearing the mask). He often functions as the calm center of the storm. Treat Williams, as Drax, is implacably evil (he blinds a librarian by hiding spring-loaded needles in a microscope) and also slick and oily in the best pulp tradition. Kristy Swanson (whose “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is a cult favorite)is plucky and athletic as Diana, and develops an intriguing relationship with Sala ( Catherine Zeta-Jones ), Xander's dragon-lady sidekick, who softens and changes sides.
What all of these people decided, I suppose, was that the great strength of “The Phantom” was style--which made the classic comic strips stand out from the crowd, and which might help define the Phantom franchise for modern audiences(since, let's face it, the Phantom is not as big a name as Batman or Superman).The production design by Paul Peters is tirelessly inventive, but also crucial is the photography by David Burr, whose framing creates montages defined like a comic strip.
Burr sometimes uses color and composition in much the same spirit as the Glasgow artist Jack Vettriano, whose flashy gangster types and molls in red dresses regard each other in sullen lust.
“ThePhantom” was written by Jeffrey Boam , who wrote “Indiana Jones and the LastCrusade.” It has the breakneck energy of the Indiana Jones movies, and the samelove of fedora hats and very big old trucks.
But it's not Indy in a purple suit. It has its own distinctive tone and feel, and a certain innocence; the PG rating indicates it's suitable for families, and so it is, because it lacks unnecessary violence and sexuality--but that doesn't mean it's not red-blooded. It's in love with a period when there were islands not on any map, and one or two brave people could change history, and characters could shout out, “Have you heard the exciting news? We're going to the Devil's Vortex!”
Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.
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The Phantom (1996)
Rated PG For Action-Adventure Violence and Some Mild Language
Billy Zane as Phantom/Kit Walker
Kristy Swanson as Diana Palmer
Treat Williams as Xander Drax
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Sala
- Simon Wincer
- Jeffrey Boam
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1996, Action, 1h 40m
What to know
The script gives Billy Zane little to work with, and thus he plays the Phantom as a friendly but completely one-dimensional hero. Read critic reviews
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Watch The Phantom with a subscription on Max, rent on Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, or buy on Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV.
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The phantom videos, the phantom photos.
A purple-costumed superhero (Billy Zane) tries to thwart a master criminal's (Treat Williams) acquisition of mystical skulls with legendary powers.
Original Language: English
Director: Simon Wincer
Producer: Robert Evans , Alan Ladd Jr.
Writer: Jeffrey Boam
Release Date (Theaters): Jun 7, 1996 limited
Release Date (Streaming): Jan 1, 2017
Box Office (Gross USA): $17.3M
Runtime: 1h 40m
Production Co: Paramount Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, The Ladd Company
Sound Mix: Surround, Stereo
Cast & Crew
The Phantom, Kit Walker
The Great Kabai Sengh
Alan Ladd Jr.
Critic Reviews for The Phantom
Audience reviews for the phantom.
Billy Zane is The Phantom in this campy and lighthearted superhero film. Based on a comic serial, a vigilante in the African jungle known as The Phantom tracks a group of mercenaries back to New York and learns of a tycoon's plot to reunite three magic skulls to gain ultimate power. Co-starring Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, the cast is actually pretty impressive and does a good job at emulating the broad acting style of the old movie serials from the 30s & 40s. But the writing is really poor, with thinly drawn characters and a ridiculous plot. While there's some charm to The Phantom, ultimately it's a cheesy B-movie that doesn't work.
The years have been kind to this film and hold up quite well. I originally jumped on the bandwagon of disliking the film but I now find it a guilty pleasure. The fight scenes and certain actors are cringe worthy but there is something to like here. Billy Zane is quite good, sadly the material wasn't better to give him a honest chance.
Slated upon its release in 1996, The Phantom has never been on the top of anyone's favourite superhero list. I remember the character from Defenders Of The Earth (Defenders), but that's about it. This film isn't spectacular, but like some other films I've watched recently for the first time since their mid-90s releases, it's actually a nice change of pace from the current market. The Phantom has Billy Zane as the ghost that walks. A man who protects the deep dark jungles by riding a horse and brandishing pistols. See, he isn't your average hero. That's part of the quirky charm. It's more of an action adventure film than a superhero piece, but the practical effects and stunts are great to look at. The characters are all cheesy and fun, especially the likes of Remar and Zeta-Jones. It was like stepping back into a time machine before filmmakers had put all of their trust into computers. Will certainly need a viewer who can appreciate the camp and corny, but those that do should be highly rewarded.
This movies okay. Like a lot of the critics point out though, it is definitely an homage to the 30's pulp comic books, so be prepared for some super cheesy lines, and nothing remotely resembling the dark superheroes of the modern era.
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The Phantom (1996)
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Palm Beach church offers haunted fun with live silent movie, 'Phantom of the Opera'
A historic local church is offering some spooky fun, with a live showing of the silent film, “The Phantom of the Opera.”
Famed organist Dorothy Papadakos will accompany the 1929 release of the film on Oct. 27 at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach.
“They can expect lots of high drama, and also lots of laughter,” said Papadakos, who is on tour performing live organ music along with a slate of silent films. “With our sensibility all these 100 years later, some of the film seems very campy and melodramatic. It’s a fun movie to watch.”
See Photos: Blessing of the Animals ceremony at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea
The movie and performance are suitable for ages 8 and older, with costumes suggested, Papadakos said. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for ages 12 and younger. Children ages 12 and younger who wear a costume and are accompanied by an adult in costume will get in free, with the adult’s paid admission.
The evening begins with a family-friendly Halloween party in the church’s garth at 6:30 p.m. The movie begins at 7 p.m.
Stuart Forster, associate for Music and Liturgy, organist and choirmaster for Bethesda-by-the-Sea, said he has known Papadakos for years and has wanted to work with her in Palm Beach. “She has this bubbly personality that makes you feel good, and it translates into her music beautifully,” he said.
More: Police: SUV crashes into Church Mouse resale shop in Palm Beach
The party in the garth will be casual with a few treats, so everyone can see each other’s costumes, Forster said.
Then the movie will be projected onto a 12-foot screen at the front of the sanctuary, with the organ console pulled forward to sit next to the screen so guests can enjoy the full theatrics of Papadakos’ performance, he said.
Those theatrics include the organist herself dressed in a red-and-black Phantom costume.
“I swoop in,” she said, laughing.
The movie features early 1900s movie star and pioneering makeup artist Lon Chaney in the titular role, with Mary Philbin as Christina, the young opera singer at the story’s heart. The film — and later, the hit Broadway musical — is based on the serial novel "The Phantom of the Opera" by Gaston Leroux.
“There’s some moments of true horror and real suspense,” Papadakos said.
The version being shown at Bethesda is the fourth release of the film, for which Chaney supervised an edit, she said. It’s about 30 minutes shorter than the original — and it’s in color, she said.
“The entire film is tinted, and there’s actually 17 minutes of original technicolor footage,” Papadakos said.
Forster said he’s never been to a silent movie before, and he looks forward to the experience.
“They’ve been growing in popularity, and all the organists’ conventions have them,” he said.
Papadakos noted that it’s exciting to see that “everything that’s old is new again.”
“I bet you, maybe one out of that entire audience we’re going to have that night will have seen a silent movie live in their lifetime,” she said.
The response so far has been exciting, Forster said. “We’re constantly looking for new ways of inviting people to come and experience this fantastic space,” he said.
“I think as people reinvent their lives coming out of COVID, they’re all looking to see what the options are, and we want everybody to know that we’re a warm, loving community, and that everybody is welcome here.”
Papadakos said she most looks forward to the interaction between herself, the actors on the screen and the audience.
“I love the dynamic, the synergy of all of us going on this journey together,” she said. “You never know what’s going to happen, because every organ and audience is different. … Some audiences burst out laughing, and others hold their breath. I have to play to their feeling.”
What: Live viewing of the silent film “Phantom of the Opera”
Where: The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, 141 S. County Road, Palm Beach
When: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 27
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for ages 12 and younger, free for costumed children ages 12 and younger when accompanied by a paying adult
Information and tickets: www.bbts.org
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach to show 'Phantom of the Opera'
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The Phantom - watch online: stream, buy or rent
You can buy "The Phantom" on Amazon Video, Apple TV, Google Play Movies, Microsoft Store, YouTube as download or rent it on Apple TV, Amazon Video, Google Play Movies, Microsoft Store, YouTube online.
The 21st successor to the role of Bengalla's resident superhero must travel to New York to prevent a rich madman from obtaining three magic skulls that would give him the secret to ultimate power.
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10 Films That Drove Viewers to Leave the Movie Theater
Posted: October 16, 2023 | Last updated: October 16, 2023
Paying full price for an entertaining evening at the movie theater, spectators expect to enjoy themselves. But, unfortunately, these ten films didn’t deliver (according to more than a handful of viewers). From cult classics and superheroes to musicals and Academy Award winners, this list is shocking, to say the least.
1. I Am Legend – 2007
As a renowned scientist and survivor of a zombie apocalypse, Will Smith’s character battles to save humanity in the iconic horror/thriller film.
“ I Am Legend . I took a girl to see it on a first date, and we had to leave because she had a complete breakdown at the dog dying. She then yelled at me as I drove her home for bringing her to a movie where a dog died. I had never seen it before.”
2. Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace – 1999
“ Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. It was the pod racing scene. After 15 minutes of nothing but CGI, I was like, “no … I’ll see you all later,” one Redditor wrote.
“One of my friends left with me, the other two, shortly afterward. We thought maybe something interesting would happen at some point. We were wrong”.
One of many episodes within the mythical saga, Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, did not gather major applause from fans.
3. The Hills Have Eyes – 2006
The first volume in the horror series, The Hills Have Eyes was too much to witness for some viewers.
“ The Hills Have Eyes . For me, the r**e scene was too much,” one comment read.
“Big fan of horror films in general, but s**ual assault/r**e scenes [really] get to me.”
4. The Green Lantern – 2011
“ The Green Lantern . Should be self-explanatory.”
According to Rotten Tomatoes, poor CGI and a ‘terrible casting director’ were among the many strikes against the film. Coming in with a score of 26% on the infamous review site, the DC comic flopped at theaters.
5. Dr. Strange – 2016
“If I’d been alone, I’d surely have left Dr. Strange . He was so smug and unlikable, I was cringing every time he spoke,” one Redditor commented.
Ironically, the film received an 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.
6. Moulin Rouge – 2001
Having an A-list cast including Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, the 1900’s era Parisian flick was either hit or miss for fans.
“ Moulin Rouge . I was not a fan of musicals, I just went to impress a girl, and it turns out she didn’t like it either.”
7. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – 2008
Directed by Steven Spielberg and the fourth part in the heroic saga, the movie was labeled ‘lackluster’ by most.
“ Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull … didn’t even care to ask for a refund. I got about 10 minutes into the movie and said nope.”
8. Thor: Ragnarok – 2017
“Did not leave, but I did fall asleep during Thor: Ragnarok ,” one comment read.
Unfortunately, fellow fans felt the same, rating it a ‘7.9’ out of 10.
9. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective – 1994
Recently a retiree, Jim Carrey, has crafted a resume any Hollywood star would envy, but even some of his films aren’t for everyone.
“ Ace Ventura , the first one. It was just way too much. When he started talking with his [own] a**, I had enough. I stayed [a while] longer before my friend had enough, too, and we left. Didn’t laugh once.”
10. Titanic – 1997
As of 2023, Titanic remains the third highest-grossing movie of all time (the top being other movies also directed by James Cameron). Some disagree.
“ Titanic. I was utterly frustrated to watch how long they dragged out that sinking. I left halfway through.”
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