The Phantom

Critics Consensus

The script gives Billy Zane little to work with, and thus he plays the Phantom as a friendly but completely one-dimensional hero.



Total Count: 45


Audience Score

User Ratings: 43,819
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Movie Info

The first superhero ever, created by Lee Falk in 1936, gets another shot at movie stardom 60 years after achieving fame in comics and serials. Billy Zane stars as Kit Walker, who discovers that he's the 21st in a line of purple-clad African superheroes known as "The Phantom" or, to superstitious Bengalla Island natives, "the Ghost Who Walks." When he's not fighting the evil Singh Brotherhood with his faithful wolf Devil and white horse Hero, the Phantom lives in the hidden Skull Cave. Kit discovers that Xander Drax (Treat Williams), a slimy industrialist, is plotting to take over the world by uniting the three long lost magical Skulls of Touganda. So he travels to New York, where he finds allies in crusading newspaper publisher Dave (Bill Smitrovich) and his niece, Diana (Kristy Swanson), who's also Kit's ex-girlfriend. Kit and Diana tackle Drax's forces, including the conflicted Sala (Catherine Zeta-Jones), in a quest for the Skulls that brings both sides back to Bengalla for a showdown. The Phantom's mixture of elaborate stunts with liberal doses of tongue-in-cheek humor was characteristic of screenwriter Jeffrey Boam, whose previous films included Innerspace (1987) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).

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Billy Zane
as Phantom/Kit Walker
Kristy Swanson
as Diana Palmer
Treat Williams
as Xander Drax
Samantha Eggar
as Lilly Palmer
Patrick McGoohan
as Phantom's Dad
Bill Smitrovich
as Uncle Dave
David Proval
as Charlie Zephro
Joseph Ragno
as Ray Zephro
Joe Ragno
as Ray Zephro
Jon Tenney
as Jimmy Wells
Robert Coleby
as Captain Horton
Al Ruscio
as Police Commissioner Farley
Leon Russom
as Mayor Krebs
Bernard Kates
as Falkmoore
John Capodice
as Al the Cabby
Bob Kane
as Mounted Cop
William Jones
as Cycle Cop
John Prosky
as Cycle Cop
Alan Zitner
as Dr. Fleming
Dane Carson
as Corporal Weeks
William Zappa
as Ugly Pirate
Agoes Soedjarvo
as Pirate No. 1
Clint E. Lilley
as Gangster No. 1
Jo Phillips
as Female Pilot
Austin Peters
as Boy Phantom
Valerie Flueger
as Receptionist
Rod Dailey
as Short Order Cook
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Critic Reviews for The Phantom

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (12)

  • As the Phantom, Billy Zane, buff to the max, has a likable insouciance, but there's not much he can do to flesh out this relic.

    Jul 7, 2010 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • While it hardly stands to vanquish the celluloid incarnations of Superman and Batman, this version of an older cartoon crusader's exploits does have a pleasingly astute sense of its place in the great scheme of things pulp.

    Mar 26, 2009
  • This belated, albeit decorative adaptation looks tamely second-hand.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
  • Expect this ghost of bad movies past to walk quickly to the back bins of Blockbuster, where it should be filed under a helpful heading, monotonous and juvenile.

    Jun 6, 2001
  • It's nice to see some things done the old way.

    Feb 14, 2001 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The pleasures are familiar, but not the least bit inspired.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Phantom

  • Oct 17, 2016
    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.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 16, 2016
    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.
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2013
    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.
    Luke B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 15, 2012
    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.
    Mace R Super Reviewer

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