Netflixing: Phantom Boy

in #movies2 years ago (edited)

I didn't watch a lot of French films before Netflix.

I guess I was just afraid of all the soul-crushing existentialism. A MAN CAN ONLY TAKE SO MUCH SOUL-CRUSHING EXISTENTIALISM!

But since diving into the world's most popular streaming platform, I have been impressed at how many foreign and indie titles have found a home there. These are films and shows that might not find an audience otherwise, and the idea that I should be able to dine on popular media from any region of the globe is more than a little satisfying.

And while I have yet to be blown away by anything coming out of France...

...I have gained a greater appreciation for their cinematic landscape. I liked parts of The Little Prince and saw potential in April and the Extraordinary World.

I figured that perhaps it was time to give them a third try.

This is Phantom Boy.

A New Take on an Old Mystery

The story is basically a sendup of Hitchcock's Rear Window, where a man with a broken leg sends a woman to investigate a crime on his behalf, except in this case the man is a police officer, the woman is an intrepid reporter, and instead of spying on the villains with a telephoto lens, he employs the agency of a young boy who has the power of astral projection.

The film's title would imply that the boy, Leo, is our main character, which he technically is, as we spend the most time with him. But as far as importance to the plot is concerned, the reporter does all the legwork and the policeman does all the management.

However, though Leo's story is relegated as a subplot, it is the emotional core of the film, as his powers are developed from a life-threatening illness which is never named, though it forces him to basically live in the hospital where the crippled police officer is being held. Using the ability also seems to take a toll on his health, and if he stays too long outside his body, his phantom self starts to disappear, heralding what could be a life-ending event.

It would be better for him if he stopped using this power entirely, except that New York City is currently living under the shadow of a ruthless hacker called "The Face".

A Picassoid and enigmatic killer who, in his own words, is out for money and vengeance (though the "vengeance" part is never explained in the movie), the Face infects NYC's power grid with a virus capable of shutting down the city permanently. To buy his clemency, the city must pay a billion dollar ransom.

To avert this crisis, and also protect the reporter as she stealthily investigates the Face's operations, Leo has to put his own health at risk, using his power to save New York.

The Illustrated Crime Drama

Hand-drawn animation is a rare enough sight these days. But what Phantom Boy offers is something stranger still.

The animation quality is by no means extraordinary. On the contrary, the film goes to some lengths to make itself seem unremarkable. The art is more on par with a well made illustration in a children's book. The backgrounds feature a lot of pastel work, and the animated characters and constantly surrounded by a wobbling of their outline, as if every frame is drawn independently of the ones before it.

Dr. Katz approves.

The overall effect is rather pleasing, though it is undercut a great deal by the terrible lip-sync work (Netflix does not give you the option of watching the movie in its original French).

While we're on the subject, I should mention that the English voice acting is hit and miss. It is a thousand times more tolerable than April and the Extraordinary World in this regard, but still does not recommend itself overall.

Where it Excels

There is, however, one point on which Phantom Boy goes beyond the mark and shatters expectations, and that is in its musical score.

I had never heard of Serge Besset before this film. And, apparently, he has not done a lot of high-profile work, which is a shame.

Phantom Boy's score is fully orchestrated, and that orchestra is in the hands of a capable and sharp-witted composer. The music honestly covereth a multitude of the film's sins, and ratchets up my overall grade by several levels. While I doubt I will ever buy the soundtrack, every moment of music perfectly matches the action onscreen, wordlessly narrating the world and giving it a steep new dimension.

What I Still Wish For

However, there were quite a few ways in which this film disappointed me.

Of particular note are the story's villains, who are as bumbling and stereotypical as it gets. Even when the stakes were high, and character deaths were a near-certainty, I found myself utterly unintimidated by these supposed rogues. As this movie took so much inspiration from Hitchcock, it's a wonder the filmmakers didn't familiarize themselves with one of his more famous quotes:

Incompetent villains lead to a lack of dramatic tension. And if Phantom Boy had had a lot more dramatic tension, it could have been so much more than a good film. It had a great deal of potential.

The other major disappointment of this movie was that how much it left unexplored. It went places other animated films have not gone, but it could have gone so much further. Leo's illness, the implications of his powers, and the Face's backstory all could have been delved more deeply. We might have, for example, actually witnessed Leo interacting with more phantoms (we only see one other in the entire film), and if we had been treated to a scene of him watching someone else fade away, it would have been all the more unsettling when the same thing starts to happen to him.

But I realize that all filmmakers are bound by certain expectations. And it's hard to justify taking an animated family film in a dark direction. The movie goes as far as it can, and does quite a bit with the short leash it seems to have been put on.

My Judgment

Phantom Boy is a good movie that was almost a fantastic one.

I regret that I cannot watch it in its original French on Netflix. Apart from that consideration, however, I will say that Netflix is a good place to catch this movie. It's a little fun and a little mysterious, and it doesn't quite live up to its potential, but I admire what it was trying to do, and it succeeds a lot better than a number of other animated offerings these days.

I recommend it, if you're ever in the mood for something out of the ordinary.

Previous entries in the Netflixing series:

Past Years

TV Shows

  • Revolting Rhymes
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 1
  • The Polka King
  • Little Witch Academia
  • Movies

  • The Boss Baby
  • Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
  • Strictly Ballroom
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    I really like the same movie... @talanhorne

    A few years ago the creative Alain Gagnol-Jean-Lu Felicioli became famous for his tape "Cat's Life", which brought them the nomination for the Oscar. It can be seen that to this film - "Phantom Boy" - the authors reacted with all responsibility. I agree with you on a very good film.

    very good post my friend .. I like the same post you friend

    Hello @talanhorne,

    Incredible review of a extraordinary good animation movie. Excellent article.


    @talanhorne, Phantom Boy is a best part of movie of Netflix series. I have never watch but read your post and then take idea. Its satisfaction level to me.

    Since I live i New York I’m kind of glad the a Picassoid and enigmatic killer story is just a However there is always some kind of hero, in this case Leo who can save us all.
    Anyway I love Hitchcock‘s and Hitchcock’s inspired movies!

    Awesome analysis friend. Thanks for take your time to share posts like this

    Congratulations @talanhorne
    Now you are in the MinnowsPower Loyalty Member List...!!!

    Exceptional article & Netflix movie Phantom Boy. Excellent article & very informative...!!!

    100% Upvoted by @MinnowsPower movie review by @talanhorne sir...
    I'm really like watched tv series in my free time..
    Actualy I'm new comer in to this platform...I'm alwats try learn something with every posts...
    Followed now U sir....I'm become ur fan now...I'm always try check ur blog everyday...
    Thanks sir..

    This is great post. very interesting Netflixing movie and good I think.
    have a great day

    Phantom Boy, based on your review is worth watching. I kind of like these kind of movies.
    Hitchcock’s style movies always fascinated me. Especially his dark humor.
    Great review though!

    Netflix kinda awesome parts on fully stories..Most one master blaster. Some one un-satisfaction level to me. But this one has some good story. So I decided to find original movie. Thank you for sharing.

    Wow.....just amazing..... awesome....
    Read to love.

    Great to shareU5dtrFZ7Pp3roqkhv86gQMXL3ihpu7u.gif

    that's amazing....animation..sensation.....
    great to share

    This is a best succeeding story I've read now. But little mysterious one but has some fun contents. Good introduction.

    You guys are so charming. wish, I would have a lot of Money! :)
    ThankYou for sharing your experience,resteem.......

    You are a good person to write.your ideas and writing have been fulfilled.
    This is great article and good advice.
    (((((( Resteem service)))))

    very good story, i really liked posting @talanhorne.

    so much funny post.

    I got new information about a good movie form Netflix series. thanks for your sharing, talan :)

    the story of a very interesting, success always friend, thank you have to share

    Useful and effective tips and good writing, thanks.@talanhorne
    Upvote Resteem

    Netflixing movies is really awesome.
    And the boss baby is on of the most.
    Thanks for sharing @talanhorne
    Keep it up.

    Everybody know Netflix all movies are really awesome.
    Thanks for sharing this movie review
    upvoted + resteemed

    I think it's great that you also present less well-known films from France here. :) I didn't know about Phantom Boy yet, but it looks entertaining - especially if you look at it with your kids. :)

    Wow...anather wonderful and interesting movie review by @talanhorne sir...
    Actualy I'm really like watched 3D animation movies....not along...with my little kid...
    Thanks this update...

    This article is professional & Excellent writing . so great experience.
    Thanks @talanhorne
    100% like and resteem

    Netflix is a very popular place for movies, I know this site as found in some web ads, I'm curious with this site and then try to open the link, and I was surprised at the sight of nitflix presents a lot of movies and quality the picture is very clear.
    I like to watch!!
    thanks @talanhorne

    Netflixing is very beautiful movie. I really like this movie. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post.

    From this review I am very interested to see the Phantom boy. I love to see animated movie in Netflix..... thanks @talanhorne... for sharing this. I really enjoy your post. Your Netflix movies review inspired me to see animated movies.

    @talanhorne - Sir I never heard about this movie before... Nice review Sir... Nice you decided to share your experience Sir...


    Looks a really fantastic movie to watch quite dramatic too :)

    @talanhorne wow very nice wonderful post thank for shear
    nice photography

    It's not an anime! Wow that's great I want to watch it! Hope I could find a torrent of it! Thanks for sharing this great review about that movie!


    Great and amazing post sir.
    Nice reviews about this movie.
    Phantom boy movie is one of my favourite.

    Thank you so much @talanhorne sir for sharing this post.

    Upvoted + resteemed your post. 🤗💚

    I always like to watch netflix animation movie. Thanks for sharing the movie review.

    I Love to watch animated movies at Netflix.... You posted a great review.... Thanks for sharing...

    This is a very good story to read.very interesting Netflixing movie

    Excellent movie review dear.
    And your writting is really good thanks for sharing.

    sucha great topic to deal with sir @ talanhorne love your post have a good time.

    very nice article and great writing dear friend @talanhorne
    thank you for sharing with us,

    that's really nice i like your post to much @talanhorne thanks for sharing

    I also didn't watch a lot of French films before Netflix.
    Finally i did itU5dsAhY8ggaPqZrU94h7i5jDCSaPSqD_1680x8400.png

    That's a wonderful animation. Thanks for the share..

    Phantom Boy
    Excellent movie review & nice movie to watch in this weekends. Nice post.

    Wow nice movies and great post.thanks for sharing
    Thank you @talanhorne
    Upvote Resteem

    wonderful post sir..
    i like this post..
    very good animation.
    thanks for sharing sir..

    Why do not you like France

    Thanks for the recommendations! I have just added to watch list these movies :) I don't enough time to watch a movie nowadays because of my job but I will watch as soon as possible!

    the story is very interesting friend, success for you friend

    Loved your recomendations ♥

    Excellent movie review & I like to watch this movie~

    Nice story

    What a great animation cartoon.I think it's a making extreme higher level graphics software.Thanks for share.

    Great judgement seems like this is going to be cool to watch thanks for sharing :)

    Really good post dear.
    Thanks for sharing this.

    Very awesome blog sir


    dammn now that's the review i was looking forward to time to turn netflix on :D

    Incredible post i learn and relate a lot

    I like it! everything you said am even very glad you are talking about this because I believe your voice is likely to be heard. I know others have talked about this in the past, but I don't see this being taken as seriously as I would like it to be.
    I was wondering if you even can make a video?

    it was so fascinating to read lovely work on this review its amazing phantom boy is looking solid

    How am i just now discovering you?? terrific writing man and you clearly have excellent taste.

    definitely i would love to see this quite interesting it look from your post it will be worth it :)

    Fantastic i would say from the review didn't watched this one yet but it is now top on my list

    Awesome post. I also saw those movies. They are really enjoyable.

    very good post friends, I really like it. thanks for sharing

    interesting story to look to in netflix today definitely it will be worth it i think

    Seems like a great piece of work ;)

    you just gave me an idea on how to spend my weekend in the best possible way this is going to be fun

    Excellent review post this is very amazing thanks for sharing i liked it too much

    phantom boy i saw it as a glimpse but now i think in need to watch it

    Upvoted and Resteemed done.

    Animations are really fantastic.

    Amazing post &Excellent writing. @talanhorne thank you.

    For your post propagation.

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