I’ve spoken before about Syfy’s upcoming reinvention of The Phantom, and, even though I didn’t dig the concept designs for the costume, I have to admit that, after seeing the trailer, the mini-series, premiering June 20th on SyFy Channel, looked pretty decent. In fact, I found it very Batman Beyond-ish.
Having been given the chance to see the miniseries (it’s already premiered in Canada and overseas), I have to say that the Batman Beyond comparison is actually pretty close, in addition to a good bit of obvious inspiration from Batman Begins, and some parkour thrown in for good measure. Despite all of these influences, or maybe because of them, The Phantom turns out to be a pretty damn solid mini-series.
And not only that, we get the rare satisfaction, as Phantom fans, of seeing a modern re-imagining of a classic character that actually honors the traditions of the original character, while bringing something new and exciting to the mythos.
Full review after the jump.
The Phantom begins with a mother and son on the run from a group of unknown criminals. Their car is run off the road, and the child survives, later becoming adopted, his name changed to Chris Moore. Now 24 and in law school, Chris is at the top of his game, running an online parkour site, and meeting a cute EMT who develops a strong connection with him right away. Unfortunately, just as things are going his way, the crap hits the fan. He’s kidnapped and told that he’s actually Kit Walker, the heir to the Phantom throne and his family is brutally murdered (not a spoiler, it’s in the trailer) by an international criminal organization known as the Singh Brotherhood. From there, Kit takes on the responsibilities and training that will lead him to become The Phantom that he’s destined to be, and try to get to the root of a series of murders linked back to the Singhs.
Out of the two parts of The Phantom, the first is definitely the stronger of the two, with the aforementioned Batman Beyond/Begins influences. The acting and direction are solid, the sole weak point in the cast really falling on villain Cas Anvar, playing Raatib Singh, the last in the line of Singhs. Ryan Carnes does a great job as both the Phantom and Kit Walker, giving off a bit of the vibe you’re likely to get from Smallville’s Green Arrow. He shows that he definitely has the skill to carry the series, should this mini do well.
The writing, by Daniel and Charles Knauf (Carnivale) is definitely strong. As mentioned before, there are enough callbacks to the previous Phantom mythology that most fans will be VERY happy. You get a couple of nice references to the past Phantoms, and origin of the character, and yes, you get a Skull Cave. While most fans might find the new costume a big silly, it’s all explained in a very scientific manner that helps give a reason for the change. Still, even I have to admit, I wasn’t the hugest fan of the costume – but the original Phantom costume doesn’t really work on film, despite my love for the Billy Zane film.
When The Phantom premieres on June 2oth on SyFy, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s rare we get such a strong representation of costumed heroes on television, and this one is definitely worth the time. Even non-phans will find plenty to enjoy.