AN EMPIRE OF WORDS

Phantoms (1998)

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I must clear up the reasoning behind this movie, I am only watching this film for one reason and one reason only. The reasoning is a quote from a film called Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Jay states that “Ben Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo” to Ben Affleck who is playing someone else. Odd I know, but brilliant in action.

The film is set in Snowden, Colorado, where Lisa and Jennifer Pailey are heading to Jennifer’s home, but only to find her housekeeper dead and everyone in a usually busy town, missing. They head to the town bakery, to find the severed heads of the baker and his wife in the oven, this where the Sheriff and his deputies intercept them. The Pailey sisters (Lisa played by Rose McGowan and Jennifer played by Joanna Going) spooked investigate a local hotel with Sheriff Bryce Hammond (Ben Affleck) and his deputies Stu Wargle and Steve Shanning (Liev Schreiber and Nicky Katt). where they discover the name of Timothy Flyte coupled with The Ancient Enemy and of course, everyone dead or missing.

After this discovery and the clump of metal left on a bed that previously wasn’t there, they converge on the police station in aid of trying to get help and to find out this mystery name, Timothy Flyte. He is found and taken to a base close to Snowden where he reveals that this thing is “chaos, chaos in the flesh.” After calling for aid, they are attacked at the police station by a large moth-like creature and it attacks deputy Wargle, who has been peculiar up until this point. Upon examination of the deputy after the attack, they discover that Wargle had his eyes, brain and the soft tissue on his face eaten by the moth creature.

“Hey, you wanna see somethin’?”

Flyte is taken to Snowden in hope of trying to find a way to stop this ancient enemy as it is referred too, where he explains he believes this ancient enemy has wiped out civilisations including the Mayans. Accompanied by a small army to try and find this ancient enemy, they arrive in Snowden, only to be wiped out apart from Flyte, the Pailey sisters and of course, Sheriff Hammond.

Peter O'Toole here, confronting the 'Phantoms' for the final sequence.

Peter O’Toole here, confronting the ‘Phantoms’ for the final sequence.

Much of the rest of the film not much really happens, apart from the ending where everything goes down so to speak. (The final scene was quite good though). I say the rest of the film, majority of this film was very much below average, painfully  below average. As they discover the ancient enemy absorbs information and gathered this knowledge that the ancient enemy has become to believe it is all powerful and immortal. A God. They discover a way to destroy this entity, and decide to put it into practice. And whether or not it works I leave with you, if you want to choose to watch this film.

I imagine this film in surround sound and big screen it would’ve been much better only for the effect though, but as for the actual film, I felt it was too much like The Thing, the original. As the indistinct noises, the morphing into dogs and people and of course the way it attacks the people left is all too familiar with The Thing. Ultimately, I did not expect big things after the reviews score and the sole reason I was watching this film is the reference in another film. I would not recommend this film at all. It’s quite lackluster and any action and thriller-esque only comes from jump tactics employed.

The acting is not brilliant either, Ben Affleck is probably the quietest character in this film and least memorable. Liev Schreiber probably has the best performance as Wargle, as he is very creepy and someone whom you wouldn’t want to be around with for very long. To anyone else who has endured this, um, experience, what did you think? Was Ben Affleck the bomb for you?

1/5 – (For Ben Affleck)

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Author: Nathan Harris

Currently studying Film & Television studies and Media Writing at Derby University. Hopefully wanting to become a film critic/journalist.

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