The Phantom (1996/Paramount/Lionsgate Blu-ray)
B Sound: B Extras: C- Film: B
honesty I have always found The Phantom
comic series quite drab and boring; right up there with Prince Valiant in my mind.
The serial nature of it is interesting, but in the end is simply
underwhelming. The potential of the
comic series, however, was something that was not lost on Paramount
studios in 1996. There was an original
film serial from 1943 that also featured the heroic Phantom character, but the
1996 version attempted to do a much needed overhaul. The Lee Falk creation began in 1936 with a
black and white newspaper comic (later updated to color in 1939), but has seen
a variety of media interpretations over the years as Falk’s character has been
seen in film, video games and even television.
The 1996 film stars Billy Zane as the title character and Kristy Swanson
as the leading lady Diana Palmer. Other
notable names make appearances such as Catherine Zeta-Jones and James Remar.
somewhat follows the comic series as a young boy (the last survivor of a pirate
attack) washes up on the shore of a mysterious island called Bengalla. On shore the young boy swears to devote his
life to wiping out cruelty, piracy and greed; as an adult adopting the persona
of “The Phantom” and under that disguise he fights injustice in all its
forms. For generations “The Phantom”
persona is passed down from father to son; giving it the appearance that The
Phantom never dies. This film focuses on
the 21st Phantom, Kit Walker (Billy Zane), who fights the evils of
diabolical rich man Xander Drax. Drax is
looking for a dooms day device called The Skulls of Touganda, whose power will
allow him to have world domination. A
boat load of issues arise as The Phantom finds the girl of his dreams (Kristy
Swanson), as well as the man who killed his father. A series of choices and hardships make his
battle against evil increasingly difficult, but as always The Phantom must prevail
and live on.
Wincer film was ultimately a flop, fairing better on home video than in
theaters. To this reviewer the film is
quite enjoyable, more enjoyable than the comic book. Truth of the matter is that this film comes
from a time in the film industry when bunch of classic comic commodities
flopped; including The Shadow and The Rocketeer, both of which I
loved. The film is a tad campy at times,
as if the actors are trying too hard; but all in all it is entertaining. The money was there and it truly brings the classic
comic series to life. Zane was a good
choice for The Phantom and his supporting cast isn’t half bad either. I recommend The Phantom as it recaptures the comic in a more thrilling light.
technical features of this Lionsgate Blu-ray are quite good overall. The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition video
presentation is wonderful as the color palette pops and the blacks are deep and
inky to frame the picture nicely. The
most impress part of this seemingly simply release are the detail rich scenes
as every aspect is clearly visualized with great textures and facial features
that demonstrate what Blu-ray can do.
The sound explodes from the surrounds as the 7.1 DTS Lossless HD Master
Audio brings a great sense of adventure to the film and takes it to the next level. The surrounds are fully immersive and
utilized quite well. The dialogue is
crisp and clean with a well balanced surround track of music and adventure to
extras are the only disappointing part of the Blu-ray as only a Theatrical Trailer
is available for viewing. With the
plethora of deleted scenes that apparently exist for this film it is surprising
we see no extra features on this disc.
all, I really like this film and it is fun for both adults and children.
- Michael P. Dougherty II