The Phantom

on June 07, 1996 by Kim Williamson
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   Capturing a comic-book hero onscreen isn't easy; you want to keep the camp and flash, but not at the expense of believability or dramatic tension. In the second surprise of the summer ("Dragonheart" being the unfortunate first), "The Phantom" proves to hit on at least 10 of 12 cylinders. The tale of the latest Phantom the heir to the good-guy mantle begun 400 years ago, with each man's son growing up to battle the despicable Sengh Brotherhood stars Billy Zane ("Just in Time") as the man of the jungle who must travel to 1930s New York to stop the evil machinations of a corrupt corporate king ("Things to Do In Denver's..." Treat Williams), who's intent on ruling the world. In his quest, the Phantom is aided by a crusading newspaper gal ("The Chase's" Kristy Swanson, smashing in her post-Flapper garb. The costume and design folks are almost show-stealers).
   Scripter Jeffrey Boam keeps things as lively here as in his "Lethal Weapon" sequels, and a revitalized Simon Wincer (the awful "Operation Dumbo Drop") matches his direction to the story's celerity with an energetic camera. "The Phantom" makes one misstep the Sengh Brotherhood is involved only collaterally for most of the movie, as if this were a stretching-for-ideas sequel but it still delivers all the zing-pop-pow one could want.    Starring Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams and James Remar. Directed by Simon Wincer. Written by Jeffrey Boam. Produced by Robert Evans and Alan Ladd, Jr. A Paramount release. Adventure. Rated PG for action/adventure violence and some mild language. Running time: 102 min.
Tags: Billy Zane, Kristy Swanson, Treat Williams, James Remar, Simon Wincer, Jeffrey Boam, Robert Evans, Alan Ladd, Jr, Paramount, Adventure, violence, travel, tension
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