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Mask of the Phantom

Oh, the irony. The very day after I made explicit notes to myself to begin a regime of backing up my files more consistently and to make routine check-ups of my computer’s wellbeing, it gets a virus and I have to spend the whole day doing countless scans to remove it. Aren’t computers great? I’ll use that as my excuse as to why I could only post the August 28th entry now rather than, you know, on August 28th.
Earlier this week I couldn’t think straight. I could barely remember what I’d actually done each day, and I’d struggle to remember if I was even productive at all. Did I try and work on any of my projects? Or did I sit on my ass and play games all day? The truth eluded me like the movements of a troublesome wasp, and I could do naught but curse myself for my slothsome folly.
Eventually I blamed it on the box art of the Phantom DVD.

I’ve seriously no idea why it was on my desk. I mean, I didn’t put it there. I’ve had a mild intrigue in watching it, primarily because of my fascination with old-timey superheroes, but I’m not in such a rush that I want to leave it on my desk as a constant reminder. All I know is that the tagline is driving me insane.

It doesn’t suggest “film adaptation of a 1940s superhero” – to me, it suggests “Street Sharks: The Movie!” Maybe it works better when used at the end of a theatrical trailer narrated by a gruff and grizzled voice actor, but as giant flamboyant text, it just seems misplaced, like it took a wrong direction at Albuquerque.
Despite the insanity-inducing front cover, it’s actually a very fun film! It’s a fun, light-hearted cross-country romp with magical elements involved, though there’s no denying it’s got a serious resemblance to Indiana Jones in that regard. You could argue that it’s a homage, a rip-off, or a simple circumstance that’s bound to happen when both movies are effectively based off old-timey pulp action flicks, but I had no real complaints. I’d rather have a movie rip off something good and get a moderately decent result than, say, try and rip off the House of the Dead movie. When you set your standards that low, you’re just asking for trouble.
Admittedly, the Phantom isn’t really a shining beacon of engaging protagonists, at least in this movie version. His personality doesn’t extend much beyond being totally deadpan, even when making humourous remarks, but on the bright side he’s talented in every ability ever, has an uncanny power over animals, dual-wields pistols, and has a strangely awesome costume. I can’t say I argue with the Nostalgia Critic when he called him a giant purple condom, but come on, I think it’s neat. Billy Zane’s got a great superhero physique, but the guy doesn’t really have much material to shine with outside of making dashing smiles to his love interest.
Speaking of the love interest, she practically steals the show – she’s so badass! She takes care of herself without having to make groan-inducing remarks about her gender, she’s got a mean right hook, and I’m totally entranced with her fashion sense. Everything she wears seems to be totally stylish – that hat! That coat! Those boots! It’s not exactly what one would consider feminine attire, but I think it’s an incredible outfit and combined with her general cute-but-hardass attitude, I’d dare say she’s one of my favourite action movie love interests.
In fact, it seems a lot of characters solve only to stand out more than the main character. Xander Drax, played by Treat Williams (who I’m sure is familiar to me from some other movie but his IMDb appearances don’t ring any bells) is as hammy as an aisle of bacon: every line he says seems to be played up to the best of his ability, and while I’m sure other actors would probably play him as a more sinister, scheming business man ala Xanatos from Gargoyles, I feel Treat played him just the right way – outrageously overblown. Heck, everyone of minor significance is great – the female villain isn’t so much a villain as just a gossiping, jealous seductress (who ends up being a good guy!), all the gangsters are entertaining in their blowhardy ways, and even the taxi driver who escorts the Phantom around briefly is an awesome guy. He should’ve been the sidekick!
Despite the simple fast-paced fun of the movie, the story feels kinda… bare, though. Like, yeah, there are story scenes, but there’s no fancy subtext or hidden agendas going on, it’s really just the bad guys looking for these magical skulls and… that’s it. That’s the movie in a nutshell. Can’t say I’m complaining, it’s not like the action scenes were bad, but I admit I did feel a little like asking “are we going to get any scenes with substance anytime soon?” It’s like if Jurassic Park only covered the part about creating the dinosaurs and making an amusement park out of them, but didn’t bother covering the issues like the ethical nature of the plan and whether or not the world is ready for such an endeavour. But, really, it’s not like The Phantom is trying to tackle issues like that. It’s just about a purple dude riding a horse around and beating up greedy guys. You could try and be philosophical about it, but that’s just no fun.
I’m still trying to figure out where I remember Treat Williams from. I’ve a bad feeling that I’m just mistaking him for Rob Paulsen’s voice acting. They sound kinda similar!

One Comment

  1. MightyKombat wrote:

    I gotta use SLAM EVIL one day

    Friday, September 3, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink