movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] A Syfy original double-movie. That would normally be a turn-off, but really, could anything be as ridiculous as the 1996 Phantom movie [which we still liked]?

PEOPLE: Ryan Carnes (Trailor Park Of Terror) as The Phantom. Cameron Goodman (The Informers) as his love interest; she looks AMAZING as a redhead; only so-so as a dishwater blonde. Jean Marchand (he seems so familiar, but is apparently a nobody) as the guy who trains the Phantom. Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet) as the lead evil scientist–the most major name attached to this. Sandrine Holt (Resident Evil:Apocalypse, Evelyn Martin in 24, 1 ep of Friday The 13th:The Series) as Guran (who is now a woman–a hot woman).

PLOT SUMMARY: A revised origin of The Phantom, now set in the present day 2000s instead of the 1930s. A much needed update. They must stop the Singh Brotherhood’s evil plot, which looks like something out of the movie The Signal — TV-based mind control that turns people into killers.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Troublemaker’s trained by murderer of his parents.

QUIRKS: Based on a comic book, though almost everything has been changed out for something modern.

VISUALS: Not a lot of special effects, but the fact that this was in HD really helped. The dream/memory sequences were very visually interesting, with super-saturated colors that gave it a comic book backstory feel. And the love interest was wayyyy hotter than in the 1996 Phantom movie. And the action sequences are great.

GOOD STUFF: Modernized; this looks like something that came out of the 2000s, not something that came out of the 1980s (which is what the 1996 Phantom movie looked like). This can stand toe to toe with modern superhero adaptations (unlike the 1996 Phantom).

BAD STUFF: A lot of people won’t like that The Phantom has been modernized. He comes off more like the Green Arrow in Smallville, and is closer to the “brooding hero” archetype of most modern hero movies. They’ve thrown away all the corny aspects of the 1996 Phantom movie in favor for something that feels more like Smallville or 24. AND I’M QUITE FINE WITH THAT, as this was much, much, much better than the original. The Singh Brotherhood are no longer actual pirates with swords who hang around in ships and caves; they are evil men who wear suits and sit in a board room discussing which division of their huge organization will take care of which problem. Everything is far more realistic (at least, as much as superhero movies can be).

Surprisingly, there are a bunch of people who insist the 1996 version is better, and rate this 1/10 stars. I think they are fanboys who are more obsessed with maintaining canon than producing something that is good and meets modern standards.

There is a plot hole as to why [highlight for spoilers] the Phantom’s trainer would train him so well, if he was really the mole who leaked the information to the Singh brotherhood that caused his parents to get killed. It’s sort of explained, it’s just puzzling. What a twist! Of course, [highlight for spoilers] this conflict may or may not be explored in the comics, or in the Phantom 2040 series, so there may be more to it. For example, he said his loyalty will always be to The Phantom. Maybe he will now try to bring the Singh Brotherhood down from within?. This could easily be turned into a watchable series.

Sure, there’s still elements that some might find corny–the haters who can’t accept anything. But this was a far easier pill to swallow than the 1996 Phantom. Far, far, far easier.

CONCLUSION: Even though this is a made-for-TV double-length movie (3 hrs; two 1.5-hr movies, or four 44-min episodes) — this is way, way, wayyyyyy better than the 1996 Phantom movie. Here’s the thing though — the Netflix version is cut to half the length. Unless you can get HD copies of the original double-movie as it aired on Syfy, I don’t really see the point of Netflixing it. The Netflix disc says 85 minutes–this is 180 minutes!! Of course, it has little to do with the original comic now. But the feel, although modernized, is largely the same. Without the campy corniness.

Here’s a more thorough review.

RATINGS:

Clint: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 8.2/10. (Compared to 3/5, 6/10 for the 1996 version.)

Carolyn: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10. (Compared to 3/5, 6/10 for the 1996 version.)

The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 6.3/10 (compared to 4.8/10 for the 1996 version), Netflix: 3.5/5 stars (compared to 3.1/5 stars for the 1996 version).

RECOMMENDATION: If you can get your hands on the 3 hour version, check it out! But I’d avoid the 85 minute version. If you’re a die hard Phantom fanboy, you will only be able to enjoy if you can ACCEPT CHANGE.

Mood: meh
Music: AFI – My Michelle