The Phantom (1996)

The Phantom (1996)

Directed by: Simon Wincer

Starring: Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams

I’ve wanted to re-watch this movie for a while, ever since I started reading the newspaper comic strip version of The Phantom a couple years ago (SHUT UP, IT’S AWESOME). I remembered Billy Zane turning in an awful performance, but now that I have a little perspective on the character… it actually wasn’t terrible. It’s like a high school drama version of the character, where he just latches on to one dimension and hopes that’s good enough. Still, probably the best part of the movie.

The Phantom is a guy who lives on an island and who punches people with his skull ring over and over again. When some ridiculous villains come to steal one of the sacred metal skulls he protects (why didn’t he just call himself Dr. Skull or something, geez), he has to go back to civilization and get back together with his college girlfriend. I mean, wait, no, he has to stop the bad guys from getting all three skulls, because then you can glue them together and they shoot lasers from the eye sockets. I’m not making that up. That was the climactic battle of this film.

This movie is dumb as shit… but it’s a fun kind of dumb. Zane plays his normal sort of smarmy douchebag, which translates strangely to a superhero. The comic strip Phantom is a badass who’s kinda like Batman, except his only devices are two guns and a dog, and he often just stands around smirking at bad guys as they freak out because he’s good at climbing out of windows without them seeing him, so it’s really not that bad of a match. What’s really terrible about this movie is the conflict, antagonists, poorly shoehorned romantic subplot, and everything else. Especially the skull laser battle thing. Did I mention that the Phantom’s skull ring reverses the laser beam thing and they do one of those Dragon Ball Z style energy beam battles? They do. That actually happened. 90’s action movies were so goddamn corny.

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