The Phantom

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
The Phantom Movie Poster Image
'90s superhero adventure has action violence, profanity.
  • PG
  • 1996
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Even though the Phantom's family has been fighting evil since the 16th century, evil is still going strong. People who dedicate themselves to righting wrongs should be appreciated.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Phantom is a noble, good-natured fighter of piracy, greed, cruelty, and bad guys, a job passed to him by his father in a long legacy. A corrupt businessman stops at nothing to find ancient sources of ultimate power.


Expect fighting, swordplay, shoot-outs, and lots of chases. Bad guys maneuver a truck across a shaky rope bridge that breaks. The Phantom clings for life to rope and rescues a boy. The truck plummets through the canyon and lands in an explosive fireball. A skeleton strangles a man. Knives come out of a microscope and stab a man. There's lots of talk of the jungle being protected by a ghost, but it's actually the Phantom and all his descendants over many centuries. The Phantom has a pet wolf who growls threateningly at bad guys. A man is killed by a spear. Bloody water is seen after a man is attacked by a shark. A bad guy explodes when magical power is directed at him.


Girls are in a locker room in underwear and towels. Jungle warriors are shirtless. A man and woman kiss.


"S--t," "hell," "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink and smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Phantom is a 1996 superhero adventure tale that's packed with explosions, swords, guns, and cannon fights, a truck falling off a bridge, death by shark (with bloody water shown), chase scenes, and other stock conventions of the genre. Some women are seen in their underwear, and a man and woman kiss. Expect to hear "s--t," "hell," and "damn." Adults drink and smoke cigarettes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byharold cooper August 12, 2020

it’s okay

some mild violence
Adult Written byandrew j. December 23, 2017


The Phantom predates all other comic characters, yes, that includes superman and batman. For any critic to say this is just some movie in the vein of superman... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAdeyActMovie September 20, 2016

Imitate of the Classics.

I Think It was a pretty good movie, but It was a imitate of action Classics like Indiana Jones so that makes it go down a bit. It has only a little bit of rude... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old June 19, 2016

Worse Then you Think In two Ways

I think it is very violent but not extremely, like when someone get's strangled by a zombie.

What's the story?

It's 1938, and all kinds of megalomaniacs are planning world domination through various means. New York financier Xander Drax (Treat Williams) is taking the steal-all-the-magic-power-skulls-from-remote-jungle-regions approach. That's how the jungle's protector, the title's "Phantom" (Billy Zane), learns of his plot and steps in, as superheroes must, to thwart the evil. Ruthless and bloodthirsty villains connected with the nefarious Sengh Brotherhood abound, which leads to many fights with many kinds of weapons, including a cannon. One man is killed in a New York executive suite by a madman wielding a spear (no blood is seen). Another dies when he falls into a shark-infested moat (bloody water is seen). The Phantom's murdered father speaks to him, and it's with bittersweet satisfaction that Phantom No. 25 is able to kill a Sengh henchperson and avenge the death of dad, Phantom No. 24.

Is it any good?

It feels like a copycat of Superman, Indiana Jones, and other period comic book adventures, but nevertheless fans of that genre may enjoy this retread of well-worn material. Suspension of disbelief plays a big role in such enjoyment, and the Phantom's origin story may stretch reality too much even for them. (It's hard to believe that, dating to the 16th century, generations of Phantom descendants have run around the muggy jungle in purple spandex and a Lone Ranger mask.) Billy Zane plays the Phantom with a sunny zest that's endearing. The stunts and special effects are fun, as when the Phantom wordlessly communicates to his galloping steed to catch him as he jumps off a low-flying plane. It should be noted that an original co-writer of the movie has reported that the script was written as a spoof, and when the film was produced without him, it was played as a straight action-adventure drama. This may explain the movie's uneven texture.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like to be a superhero. Does the movie suggest that such a role is a burden or an honor?

  • How does the movie tell viewers that the Phantom's father is dead, even though he and the dad seem to be having conversations?

  • What makes for a good action movie? Is action more important than plot?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and adventure

Themes & Topics

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