"The Phantom": Hello Ryan Carnes, Good-Bye Billy Zane

Does anyone remember the movie The Phantom of 1996? All that stands out in my mind is Billy Zane with a bald head and a cheesy "Phantom" suit. Oh yes, and Catherine Zeta Jones was the villain. Therefore it was with great trepidation that I sat down to watch The Phantom from the Syfy channel which is a four hour "Phantom" adventure. Thankfully Syfy has made some much needed changes.

First off the only bald head on view belongs to Jean Marchand who plays the Phantom's mentor Abel Vandermaark. He is bald as a billiard ball but the hero Kitt Walker/Chris Moore (Ryan Carnes) has a head full of hair. Also when it comes time to don the Phantom outfit our hero shows his displeasure for the traditional garb and goes with a modernized version which is utile as well as manly looking.

The plot of the film follows Chris Moore as he becomes Kitt Walker and ultimately "The Phantom." Most of this evolution occurs in the first half of the night's entertainment. In the second half as "The Phantom" he takes on a bunch of evildoers, including a villainess played by Isabella Rossellini. I like Isabella but she is no Catherine Zeta Jones.

The casting of Ryan Carnes is a good move. He has the athletic abilities plus the likable charm that a hero needs. He also is a natural actor and is especially effective in the early scenes where he is just a guy going to law school and trying to have some fun on the side. Plus he has good chemistry with Cameron Goodman who plays his love interest Renny Davidson in the film.

There are some parts of the plot that don't stand up under scrutiny but overall this is an adventure film that provides entertainment for the audience. I would even be up for seeing a sequel if all of these cast members returned. There certainly are more adventures on tap for this character.

So forget the old Billy Zane film and come to this Phantom with a fresh eye and an open mind. You will find yourself having some fun.

"The Phantom" premieres on the Syfy Channel on June 20 at 7PM.