The Phantom (1996)

Lee Falk's 60-year-old comic-strip hero comes to life in this old-
fashioned, modestly engaging action-adventure from director Simon 
MEMPHIS BELLE) plays the Ghost Who Walks, who must travel from his 
remote jungle island to the skyscrapers of 1930's Manhattan.  His 
nemesis is Xander Drax (Treat Williams), a megalomaniac who is 
intent upon finding and then harnessing the supernatural power of 
three archeological relics.  Sound familiar?  THE PHANTOM bears 
more than a passing resemblance to RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, which, 
of course, bares more than a passing resemblance to the comic-strip 
and cliffhanger adventures of the 1930's.

The production values are surprisingly strong in this one.  No 
phony-looking locales, here.  And, though it lacks either an edge 
or a particular flavor, THE PHANTOM still rewards in the most low-
tech of methods:  pirate battles, horseback chases, rope bridges, 
shark moats, scary caves, and submarines.  (No, it isn't tight-
enough to be compared to either BATMAN or SUPERMAN.  Instead, I'd 
rate it somewhere between THE ROCKETEER and THE SHADOW.)  Bottom 
line: THE PHANTOM is agreeable, straight-played pulp fiction that, 
while just as implausible as the rest of the summer crop, proves 
that even a good, old-fashioned sword fight can be as much fun to 
watch as any computer-generated special effect.  Executive produced 
by Joe Dante.  (Rated "PG"/110 min.)

Grade: B-

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted in triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: June 8, 1996

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