Created by cartoonist Lee Falk in 1936 and still running, The Phantom has some claims to being the original comic-strip superhero, but this belated, albeit decorative adaptation looks tamely second-hand. Deep in the jungle island of Bengalla, the Ghost Who Walks is an immortal masked figure who watches over the native tribespeople, but closer inspection reveals that this purple-clad crusader is actually 21st in a family line whose mission has remained constant through the generations: revenge against the Sengh pirate brotherhood, now vying with power-crazed magnate Xander Drax to reunite the four deadly Skulls of Touganda and unleash an ancient and deadly force of evil. Little expense has been spared in putting this adventure fantasy on screen, with vintage planes and automobiles by the yard, striking Art Deco production design and breathtaking Thai coastal locations. A pity that the performers are so uncharismatic, with leading man Billy Zane plastic and soulless in Lycra, and not much more winning when he switches to playboy mode to woo free-spirited politico's daughter Kristy Swanson (pertly anonymous). Treat Williams barks as bully-boy Drax to numbing effect and Catherine Zeta Jones proves remarkably boring as a dyke-vixen villainess.
Cast and crew
Catherine Zeta Jones