Archive for the P Category

Priest (2011) Scott Charles Stewart

Posted in P on August 25, 2011 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $60 million

Worldwide Gross: $76 million

Priest is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans are at war with the vampires (which follows in a recent trend of non-vampire vampires but whatever).  The humans had a human fighting force called the Priests in order to fight the vampires.  When a truce was called between the two, the Priests were disbanded and forbidden to use their fighting skills again.  One of the Priests that is generically called “Priest” (Paul Bettany) is brought out of retirement when the vampires kidnap one of his family members.

Now if you look at the trailer or read descriptions of this movie you get the impression this is a cheesy genre mash up.  It is not to be taken too seriously and is there for laughs.  Well, Priest has a few problems with that.  First off, for a movie that is not to be taken too seriously, it takes itself too seriously.  Come on guys, this is a world where a cowboy vampire fights a ninja priest on top of an old west train in a post-apocalyptic future run by the Catholics.  There is no reason to play this up as if it could actually happen in real life.  Yeah, silly stuff happens like the Priest getting a higher jump by running up stones in mid air thrown by another priest.  But everything is brought back down by the completely lifeless acting of everyone.  A movie that I was reminded of which I will reference constantly during this review is John Carpenter’s Vampires (again, being such a huge film snob I reference a cheesy B movie).  In that movie you had an action horror movie which is, for the most part, played straight.  But you also had the ever lovable James Woods acting badass and throwing out cheesy one liners.  The cast took the events seriously, but that didn’t mean they could not pal around with one another or have *gasp * a personality.  You got the feeling the team had been around for a while and if they weren’t killing vampires, they would be palling around a construction site or something.  In Priest everyone is so lifeless and boring.  Paul Bettany just sits around the whole time and is always stern faced and dour.  It is like everyone took an Ambien before shooting.

The other problem with this mash up is that they mash up too many genres.  Priest is a vampire movie, a Mad Max style movie, an Equilibrium rip off which is also a Matrix rip off, a monster movie, a spaghetti western, and a kung fu movie.  When someone like Jon Favreau has trouble mixing two elements like Cowboys and Aliens, then what chance does Scott Charles Stewart have with mixing half a dozen elements?  It seemed like the writing spent so much time trying to justify how all these elements exist in this world that it couldn’t focus on the actual plot or the characters.  This leads into my biggest problems with the movie.

This movie had neither a good story nor interesting characters.  The writers again were too focused on making Priest a mysterious badass that they spent no time on why we should care about what he is doing or why we should pay attention to him.  Again, I know I am going to get flack for slamming the plot of a movie like Priest.  Keep in mind though that I have no problem with a movie with a far fetched plot as long as the elements are set up clearly and the world is internally consistent.  Earlier I bitched about the fact these vampires are not really vampires in the traditional definition.  I don’t even really have a problem with that as long as you tell me what it is our characters are actually dealing with.  In this movie we are never really told exactly what these vampires are, what they can do, how they can become vampires, or why they necessarily hate humans.  We are also never given what I think is a satisfying answer for why the bad guys are doing what they are doing other than they are just evil.  Then there are the nagging things about the story which don’t amount to anything.  Take for instance the Church’s hard line stance that the vampire threat no longer exists.  The Priest says he is going out to look for his relative and to eliminate the vampire threat.  To which, the Church leaders threaten there will be consequences.  This leads the viewer to believe either the church elders are either incredibly inept, or that they are in league with the vampires somehow.  However, this plot point is never followed up on and doesn’t factor into anything.  Let’s go back to John Carpenter’s Vampires as an example.  In that movie we are told exactly what these vampires are, what they can do, how they become vampires, what the main bad guy wants, and gives us all characters that are memorable and distinct. Again, I’m not looking for Shakespeare.  I don’t mind if you are making a cheesy vampire movie, but at least spend a little time so that I’m not sitting in the middle of the movie saying to myself “What the fuck is going on!?”

The action in this movie is spaced out too far so boredom sets in and the action we do get is uninteresting.  I mentioned earlier that we aren’t really told anything about the vampires (other than they are a generic snarling beast).  That factors into the action because if I don’t know what they are capable of I don’t know why I should think they are any match for the Priest.  In fact, of the times Priest has to fight the vampires they are all squash matches.  Yawn.  Even if I weren’t factoring that into the action, I found no one of the fight scenes to be all that interesting.  There was nothing that stuck out as all that memorable or of note.

It is bad when a movie barely over 80 minutes feels like an eternity but Priest accomplishes that.   The plot sucks, the characters are flat and lifeless, the action is uninteresting, and the concept is not played up to its full potential.  This film cannot even be enjoyed in a ‘so bad it’s good’ way because there isn’t enough there to mock and, again, the lifeless tone.  Don’t waste your time with this.

 

 

 

Paparazzi (2004) Paul Abascal

Posted in P on August 3, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $20 million

Worldwide Gross: 16 million

Paparazzi is about up and coming star Bo Laramie (Cole Hauser) who sounds like he should be in a cigarette commercial. Four paparazzi are stalking Bo and they behavior eventually lead to Bo’s son and wife getting seriously injured in a car crash. Bo then decides to get revenge on the eeeeeevil paparazzi.

This is an exploitation film; pure and simple. This movie handles the topic of paparazzis about as level headed as Steven Seagal talking about the environment and the government…and medicine, and his career, and his past, well you get the picture. The paparazzi are all evil, murderous, rapist scum and Bo is a good ol boy who isn’t used to all the fame nonsense. It is an easy set up to get Bo to mow through some baddies in increasingly elaborate ways. You also get some unintentionally hilarious moments. Take for example when Bo walks out of his mandatory anger management course and waiting in the lobby is a stressed out Mel Gibson with stacks of journals documenting his “feelings”. That may have been funny at the time when Mel only had a crazy on screen persona, but now when we have heard his ramblings on race, religion, and sex? Comedy gold my friends.

My one problem with this movie, is that this movie doesn’t go far enough on the camp value. Oddly enough, the times when Bo tries to kill the paparazzi are played more serious than they should be. The movie has an odd cat and mouse game between Bo who is trying to get away with these murders and the local Columbo type detective (here played by Dennis Farina). Much of the plot has to do with Bo covering up evidence with Farina constantly giving his “Oh just one more question…” If we are gonna go overboard with the camp, then just do the triple lindy off the high dive. I wanna see Bo kung fu fighting with photogs and having car chases in supercharged muscle cars and giving cheesy one liners as he mows down the people that hurt his family. This movie shouldn’t try to be Death Wish, it should rather be what Death Wish 4 was.

Cole Hauser is okay but to this day does not strike me as a leading man. While he has the look, he doesn’t have enough of a personality to carry a movie like this. He is frequently getting upstaged in this movie by Tom Sizemore and Farina who are clearly unafraid of hamming it up in a movie like this.

There really isn’t much more to say on this movie. It is a straight up revenge flick and a rather average one at that. I actually like the premise and it is all done competently, but the movie doesn’t go nearly as far as I would like it to. I want crazy action scenes, over the top acting, and cheesy dialog. At the end of the day this movie is just ‘meh’. Maybe if you are bored and you find this on TV you should give it a shot, but I found it to be a little disappointing.

The Postman (1997) Kevin Costner

Posted in P on June 10, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Costs: $80 million
Worldwide Gross: $20 million
Subsequent Earnings: couldn’t find

Okay, so we had Waterworld and that wasn’t a success.  But come on, we have Kevin freaking Costner here.  He’s box office gold!  We can’t hold one failure on him.  Hell, Bruce Willis has had about four so far in his career, and Arnold has done things like Jingle All the Way.  Let’s give him another shot.  That must have been what the WB was thinking when they let Costner make The Postman.  And, it’s not like they were taking a huge leap of faith here.  Costner was one of the most dependable stars at the time.  Not to mention the fact that his first time directing job won him an academy award for Best Picture and Director (a fact that Scorcese fans will never forgive).

So Costner set out to direct a post apocalyptic drama based on a David Brin novel of the same name.  Plot summary from IMDb:

In the year 2013 civilization has all but destroyed itself. After a war that decimated the government and most of the population of the United States (possibly the world) people struggle to survive against starvation and rogue groups of armed men. One such group is called the Holnists. This group is bigger than any other and their leader, General Bethlehem, has delusions of ruling the country. A drifter (Costner) is captured by the group and forced to join. He escapes at the first chance and happens on a mail jeep with a skeleton in it. The skeleton is wearing a postal uniform and the drifter takes it to keep him warm. He also finds a mailbag and starts conning people with old letters. The hope he sees in the people he delivers to changes his plans and he decides that he must help bring the Holnists down.

Costner actually expanded the scope of the story.  He wanted to tell a 3 hour epic about patriotism, hope, the human spirit, etc.  And the movie was made without any real problems.  He did not go over budget and there were no fiascos on set.  Critics were savaging the film based solely on trailers and production photos.  It didn’t help that his previous film was a highly publicized failure (GreatBadir).  When the movie finally came out, the dozens of people that flocked to the theaters were unimpressed.  The movie made about $17 million at the box office and swept the Razzies. As I said before, Costner afterward, has had an up and down career.  Up (Thirteen Days, Open Range, Upside of Anger) and down (Dragonfly, 3000 Miles to Graceland)

Is it any good? No.  It’s kind of like Waterworld where it’s not as horrible as people say it is, but its still bad.  The problem with the movie is that it’s a 3 hour love letter to the Post Office.  This is simply not a movie that needed to be that long.  He spends way to much time with Costner and the Holonists in the beginning.  The movie looks very good, but the rest of the movie is so inconsistent and dull, it’s hard to really recommend it.  NOW RIDE POSTMAN!!!

Revisit

My primary gripe with this movie can be summed up eloquently and succinctly in one sentence.  This movie is way too fucking long!  It is sad that I consider this a good 90 minute movie.  When about half your movie is dull filler, you have some serious problems.  You see, every instinct Costner had was to make this more epic, while I believe this movie had to go in the opposite direction of a small budget post apocalyptic western.  Instead of an unbelievable three hour snoozefest about how the post office saved the US, you make a 90 minute parable that will reach a wide audience.  Instead of gigantic bombed out cityscapes, you make it a worn down township kind of like in a western.  Instead of the Holonist army terrorizing several states, you make it a large gang that steals what it wants from surrounding towns kind of like Seven Samurai.  Even the ending as shown, tends to correspond with my view of the movie rather than Costner’s.  Instead of having a gigantic war scene between Costner’s army and the Holonists, they instead decide to fight one on one for leadership of the clan.  A duel to the death is more fitting for a smaller intimate movie, than a 2 hour 45 minute buildup to a non-climax.

A movie should only be as long as it needs to be.  Now that may seems like a monumental “DUH!” moment to everyone but apparently the writers didn’t know that.  Think of the reasons why you would need a three hour movie and it fails.  Is it because they have so many wonderful characters they need to develop?  No.  The only character we really follow and get to know is Costner’s character.  Sure his villain, Bethlehem, gets a fair amount of screen time but his motivations can also be summed up in one sentence.  He is a power hungry lunatic with delusions of grandeur.  Everyone else is a stock character played by a confused cast.  Some people are playing it straight, while others think they are in a campy B-movie.

Is it because you just have so much story to tell and it is all vital?  Again, no.  Take for example, what many critics cite as a frequent problem area of the movie.  The Postman gets captured by the Holonists early on and we then have to sit through a full 30-35 minute scene of him imprisoned there.  Now I get the idea it was a way for the audience to know what the Holonists were all about and what Bethlehem was like as a villain.  But seriously, do we really need 35 minutes to find out he is a bastard?  He is a ruthless dictator who squashes any attempt at individuality or freedom.  How hard is that to portray.  Or take another scene where Costner is injured and we get a looooong aside where we see him slooooowly recover.  In other movies, you would keep the narrative going by either transitioning to a sub plot, or dissolving to show the passage of time, or even a freaking montage.  It doesn’t feel like the story is moving in its own natural pace, instead it seems like the writers are padding the film to an arbitrary run time.  Much of the movie are long tracking shots of characters moving and of the futuristic cities as if Costner needed to justify the massive budget.

Now I actually get what the movie (or I suppose it is more apt to say what the original story) was going for.  It is essentially a reminder to the audience just how nice we have things and how we tend to take things for granted.  It is until we lost everything till we realize how much we miss something as trivial as the mail for example.  For the longest time, it was our means of staying interconnected with the world.  We could keep in touch with people all over the planet.  And it also makes you feel special to receive word from relatives or a long lost friend.  I get that.  It’s schmaltzy, but I get it.  In a way, it kind of reminds me of the few Twilight Zone episodes that tried to be happy.  And I will admit at times, this movie worked in making me give a damn.  It almost makes this movie more disappointing when you had the potential for something good but it was sabotaged by the director.  Unless you feel like wearing down your fast forward button on your remote to see the good bits, I really can’t recommend this movie to anyone.

If there is one thing I learned from this movie though is if the apocalypse comes, I am going to see if I can join Tom Petty’s gang.  Who knew he would be the ultimate survivalist?  Seriously!

Psycho (1998) Gus Van Sant

Posted in P on May 7, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $20 million

Worldwide Gross: $23 million

Gus Van Sant was always known for being a pioneer in independent cinema.  He achieved indie success with My Own Private Idaho and was most popular with his release of Good Will Hunting.  This lost him credibility with his core audience because they perceived Hunting as Van Sant selling out.  But what does Van Sant do with this popularity?  He makes a shot for shot remake of Psycho.  Whaaaaaaat!?  I’m a defender of remakes, but when you do NOTHING new, then what’s the point?  Now, that’s not entirely true.  He does add some new things.  For one, he updated the lines.  Like, when in the original a person said “Let me get my hat.”, they now say “Let me get my walkman.”  They also add a scene where Norman masturbates to Marion.  Yeah, cause if there was something severely lacking in the Hitchcock version, it was Norman whacking off to Marion.  The critics and the public alike both said WTF!? and then went about ignoring it.  After the failure of Psycho, he remade his own movie )Good Will Hunting) with Finding Forrester and then he tried to reclaim his indie cred with a trilogy of movies dealing with death (Gerry, Elephant, Last Days).

Is it any good?  I haven’t seen the remake, but I saw the original.  So do I really need to rent this?  There is no way you can beat Anthony Perkins’ performance.  He owned that role.  Now, if they had let the cast (Viggo Mortensen, William H. Macy, Julianne Moore) do their own thing, then it might be interesting.  But the question remains: why do I need to watch this when the original is on DVD/VHS?  What is surprising is that this comes from a director whom you would never expect this to come from.  This is a career move that is opposite from nearly everything he did before.  It’s like Quentin Tarantino doing Sleepless in Seattle.

Re-visit

I knew I could never get away with a cop out like the last review.  Even though it is practically a shot for shot remake I still need to see it to fully judge it.  Well, I have now seen it, and it still sucks.  I still wonder what the thought process was behind this.  Maybe Van Sant thought “Well, people don’t watch those black and white movies anymore.  So if I remake this movie in color with modern actors, maybe this new audience will love it all the same.”  I can’t think of any other reason that makes sense.  You have to do something new when you remake a movie.  You have to try to bring something to the table, otherwise why should people care?

Once again, I do overstate my case.  Van Sant does change a few things in this movie.  He adds some nudity, a scene where Norman masturbates to Anne Hache, and splicing in shots of nudity and I believe animal mutilation in with the murders.  I hate to parrot what other reviewers think but Roger Ebert has a point when it comes to the masturbation scene.  It shows the genius of the original to infer there was sexual voyeurism going on, and quite another to actually show it.  When you hear the sound of a zipper going down and the very loud sound of fapping, as well as Vaughn’s O face while cumming to Anne Heche of all people, it really makes you facepalm and give an embarrassed chuckle at the same time.  The dream shots of nudity add nothing, are so minor that if you blink you miss it, and it makes you think any film school reject would come up with that idea to make it more “edgy”.

This remake really comes off poorly.  Even though Van Sant slightly altered the dialog to make it sound more modern, it still feels like it is in another era.  The way people speak and their mannerisms suggest the time when it was originally made and not people with modern sensibilities and demeanors.  And I’m not sure how clear this will sound or if it will just be confusing but here it goes.  It feels like the actors aren’t playing the actual characters.  It feels to me like the actors are playing the actors as playing the characters.  It is very surreal.  I never once buy that Anne Heche (again just for an example) is Marion Crane.  I never see her as an actual character with emotions and motivations.  I see Heche trying to play someone trying to be in a Hitchcock movie.  It’s confusing, I know.

The biggest bit of miscasting is Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates.  He is simply too confident and cool to be playing someone like Norman.  Anthony Perkins had his once and a lifetime role and he perfectly captured the character.  He had a boyish Mayberry exterior.  While he was nervous and stammering, you can see why Marion initially thought he was somewhat charming.  Yet the longer you speak with him you see how damaged he really is.  The fractures on his psyche come out one by one until you are freaked out by this obsessive momma’s boy.  You could no more teach Vaughn to be Perkins as you could have Perkins be a swinger.  It would be like Bruce Campbell playing Crispin Glover in Willard; or Crispin Glover in any role for that matter.  The rest of the cast really doesn’t do much to stand out.  Even though Viggo Mortensen is in this movie he has nothing to do.  He brings nothing new to the character but I fault that on bad direction than bad acting.  The only person that only slightly comes out is William H. Macy as the private investigator.  His role is such that in anyone else’s hands it would have come off as really cheesy, but Macy sells it as believable performance.

Another scene that had me scratching my head was the final scene with the psychologist in the end.  This was only in the original movie because producers thought the audience would be confused.  The psychologist spells out the entire movie for the audience and it is widely considered to be a needlessly added extra scene.  You would think if the modern remake would change anything, it would be the deletion of such a worthless scene.  I guess I was wrong.

Pirate Radio (2009) Richard Curtis

Posted in P on April 22, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $50 million

Worldwide Gross: $36 million

Pirate Radio is supposedly ‘inspired by true events’ (yeah we all know how accurate that is) about the British government basically banning rock music on the radio.  A group of DJ’s set up a mobile radio station on the high seas and out of the jurisdiction of the government to broadcast their music.

Now I say this movie is ‘inspired by true events’ but do not for one second think that you are learning anything at all.  We learn absolutely nothing about the characters prior to meeting them, during our meeting, or after.  Normally movies like these have title cards during the credits talking about the events after like “The ban was lifted in 19-something something” or “This character died in Vietnam” or “This character became a respected musician…then died in Vietnam”.  In fact, all the characters can be boiled down to one dimensional stereotypes: the bad boy, the virgin, the moron, the stoner, the sex maniac, etc.

So yeah, don’t be expecting to learn anything from this movie.  If I were to really classify this movie it would be like Animal House-lite on a boat.  The story is a series of shenanigans repeated by scenes of our resident Dean Wyrmer (played by Kenneth Branagh) wanting to put Pirate Radio on double secret probation.  Most of the shenanigans seem to be about sex in one way or another.  In fact, this is the movie right here: music montage, Branagh talks about shutting down the radio station, the crew gets laid, music, Branagh, virgin gets laid, music, Branagh, one of the crew gets married and the crew sleeps around with the wife, music, Branagh, crew tells sex stories, etc.

I know I seem to be bitching but for what its worth the comedy is charming.  Much of the humor is due to the great cast of actors like Bill Nighy and Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  Even though Hoffman is billed as the main star of the movie (at least in the US) don’t expect too much of him.  I would say each person in the crew gets as much screen time as the other guy.  The music is great (as it should be).  It has many of the hits from the time and does well to pick good songs that aren’t too overplayed.  I almost found it entertaining to have in the background while I cleaned my house today.

Overall this was an alright comedy.  If you were to catch it on the TV or even rent it I doubt you will find it a waste of time.  But at the same time, there isn’t really enough for you to seek it out.  This type of comedy has been done nearly a billion times before and we all know the words by now.  It does nothing to differentiate itself among any other movies in its genre and is content with being the safe/inoffensive little comedy.  Pirate Radio is frankly a movie that will be forgotten in a few months and fade into film obscurity.

Peter Pan (2003) P.J. Hogan

Posted in P on April 8, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Costs: proposed budget $100 million  actual budget unknown (but severely overbudget)
Worldwide Gross: $120 million
Subsequent Earnings: about $2 million

Again, I’m not sure if you would call this a flop or a bomb.  But for the purposes of this thread I’m saying that if you half the box office results (to figure out how much profit the movie actually makes) does it at least earn back its money.  Peter Pan has been done numerous times with varying results.  So, maybe it was foolhardy to spend $100 million on a story we’ve heard many times before.

Peter Pan was an adaptation of the classic story by J.M Barrie.  P.J. Hogan (Muriel’s Wedding, My Best Friends Wedding) was set to make this movie with a proposed budget of $100 million dollars.  Jeremy Sumpter (Frailty) was cast to be Peter and veteran actor Jason Issacs was set to play Captain Hook.  Sumpter (with the exception of a German tv version of the play) was the first male to play the lead in a live action adaptation.  The movie was a costly endeavor.  Sets had to be built for both Victorian London and for Neverland.  Many of the scenes in Neverland (especially the flying scenes) were done in front of the green screen.  Sumpter was also a growing boy and grew to 5ft 8in in the middle of filming.  The set designers had to compensate for the fact he was no longer a small boy.  The final budget was never released, but I heard they went way over budget.  Most of the money went to the special effects and the art department (IMDb).

Critical reaction was very strong for this movie.  There was little advertising for this movie (at least that I can remember) and the US box office was poor.  Pan made a lot more money overseas, but it wasn’t enough to recover its cost.  Maybe people were still bitter about Hook.

Is it any good?  I think it’s a great movie.  It’s the best version of Peter Pan I have ever seen.  The movie is kid friendly, but also has some things to keep adults interested.  Hogan does a great job at exploring the bittersweet relationship between Peter and Wendy.  You can tell the money went to the art design because Neverland looks beautiful.  Sumpter is well cast as Peter and Isaacs is brilliant as Hook.  This really didn’t deserve to be overlooked.  I will take this movie over any of the hundred animated talking animal pictures that come out every week.  I recommend it.

Revisit

I still really like this movie.  This is one of the few movies that I think is good for the whole family.  For the kids you have Pan swashbuckling and plenty of funny jokes.  For the adults you have a strong theme of growing up.  While Where the Wild Things Are may have been a little too adult and depressing at times, Pan’s is much more subtle.  While the kids (and Pan) love to have fun and games, they also realize this is only temporary.  There is a time to put away childish things.  Isaacs does a great job playing the stern father figure in real life and the evil manifestation of adulthood in Captain Hook.  Sumpter also does a great job as the carefree Pan who at the same time realizes he can never really be with Wendy.

The story hits all the great notes of Peter Pan.  It doesn’t stray far from the source material but as I said, does its own things at times to make this version special.  The look of the film is also beautiful as Neverland looks like it is straight out of the storybook with a bright color palette.  I come into most kids movies with low expectations but this movie not only exceeded them but is a movie that I have revisited again and again.  I still recommend this movie to everyone.

The Phantom (1996) Simon Wincer

Posted in P on March 31, 2010 by moviemoses

Production Budget $45 million

Gross: $18 million

Really I don’t know why I haven’t reviewed this sooner.  This is yet another bomb I saw as a kid in the theater but for some reason never got around to it.  I remember I did not care for it when I was younger and the only reason I can figure is I did not know who the Phantom was.  The trailers were all mysterious and didn’t really say anything and he was not one of those really recognizable superheroes like Batman or Superman.  And I remember walking out of the theater not really knowing that much more about Phantom oddly enough.  This is not like Superman’s origin story.  This movie makes the assumption you know who this guy is and what he is doing.  In fact, the movie opens with the text “In case you came in late” and gives the shortest origin story I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie.  So short I had to rewind the movie a few times to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  It’s like the Seinfeld episode where people tell the stories like “A boat was sunk by pirates, yada yada yada, Billy Zane becomes the Phantom…”  And you are like “But what happened with the yada yada yada?”

So I’ll give you the more thorough explanation from Wikipedia.  The father of a British sailor is killed by pirates and the son washes up on shore of a fictional island of Bengalla.  He swears on the skull of his father’s murderer he will fight piracy and greed and injustice and makes his costume to look like that of a jungle idol.  This mantle is also passed down from father to son to father to son so that bad guys think of him as an immortal of “the man that cannot die”.  The movie is set in the 1930’s with a rich industrialist named Drax (Treat Williams) looking for some ancient skulls with ultimate power for the purposes of taking over the world.

If I were to describe the tone of Phantom is would be an homage to old adventure serials.  It is a kind of Indiana Jones jungle romp with a little Batman (a crime fighter with no superpowers) mixed in.  In fact I hear the Phantom comic partially inspired Indiana Jones.  This movie is very lighthearted in tone.  Phantom is a do gooder who rides a white horse and Treat Williams is the smarmy eeeeeevil guy who really should have a handlebar mustache.  There is a good amount of swashbuckling and fisticuffs to make it entertaining.  I hate to use the phrase but it’s good clean fun.  Billy Zane would not have been my first choice however he plays the part well.  He bulked up for this role and looks great and he has his usual charm as well.  There is also a pleasant cameo from Patrick McGoohan as Phantom’s father.

If I had a gripe, it is that there is not much to this movie.  It is fun while it lasts and it is a nice distraction but I’m still a bit disappointed with it.  Williams hams it up, but Drax does not stand out in any way as a villain.  The romance subplot is dealt with even quicker than the origin story.  The plot is a stock “find the mcguffin” with nothing to distinguish itself from any other adventure movie.  And we actually get so much Phantom that we get no characterization into his alter ego Kit.  We see so much of him posing and saying cheesy one liners we don’t know who Kit is, how he prepared himself to fight crime, who he knows (his partners), or if he has any kind of long term plans.  It is like the director is so concerned with keeping the action moving and doing something every five seconds that we don’t have any time to really connect with any of the characters.  This is a shame because I think this story has a lot going for it.  I would like to see this franchise come back and maybe take some time to build up the mythology of the character.  Now this movie bombed, however it has performed very well on DVD; even having the movie be given a blu ray special edition.  I heard rumors there is a miniseries and even an attempt of a ‘Dark Knight” style reboot starting in 2010 buuuuuuut I won’t be holding my breath just yet.

But I did like this movie.  Phantom isn’t great, but it has the rare problem of me wanting more by the end.  This movie and The Shadow had the unfortunate fate of being lumped in with several other crappy comic book movies and being lost in the shuffle.  So give this movie a shot.