I'm not a comics geek, so I don't know much about The Phantom (although I did see the big screen version with Billy Zane, but I've forgotten most of it) and I'm not angry that its being updated or that the costume was changed.
So I watched "The Phantom" (Syfy, 7 tonight) the four-hour movie just for entertainment value. And I was pretty entertained.
The film is a modern, re-imagined story of the character that's known as the first superhero and a costumed guy (he wore something similar to an old wrestlers outfit) who didn't have superhero powers.
In this version, Ryan Carnes plays Chris Moore, a law student we first meet when he and a friend are broadcasting their parkour excursion live to the web. He's good at it too (and it's a skill that will come in handy). His friend gets hurt, an ambulance is called and the EMT is an old friend, and potential new love interest, Renny (Cameron Goodman).
Chris has parents who love him and want him to buckle down so he can finish his last semester of law school. He also has weird dreams of a woman he doesn't recognize. What he'll soon learn is that that woman is his real mother, he's adopted, his real name is Kit Walker, and that he's next in line to be The Phantom.
Unfortunately, he gets this news after the Singh crime syndicate does. They've finally figured out that the Phantom isn't an immortal, there's been more than one of them since the 1500s, and if they kill the next one (Chris/Kit), they can possibly rule the world. Plans to do that include a mind control program, created by Lithia (the kooky Isabella Rossellini) that sends signals through the TV. To test it, they get a suburban mom to put rat poisoning in the baked goods she's serving to the PTA.
Yeah, it's a lot of plot, but it's not as complicated as it sounds.
Much of the first two hours is devoted to the new Phantom accepting his destiny and getting trained, and trying to accept that he's got to give up his past. That gets tough because when Kit leaves the country to get Phantom training, he does so abruptly (for good reason). Renny gets her dad, a cop, to investigate his disappearance. Doing so could put dad on the Singh's murder list, something Kit/Chris isn't happy about.
Because this is an update, there's a lot of computerized stuff and the costume is different (I don't care about that either), giving the Phantom a little more than his own strength and wit to work with. And there's electronic music.
I can't say every minute of the four hours was riveting, but the production values are high, the villains are more than sufficiently evil, and I wanted to keep watching. I got engrossed.
For purists, it may not be sacrilege to give him this character the Phantom name. For the rest of us, it's a cool name for a cool movie about a young guy both burdened and enriched by tradition.