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Wonderful movie! This "mrdead" is dead...on his "review" and lacks class and sensitivity. Probably watches too much "adult" programs to appreciate. For those few who do have these qualities will love it. We will be playing this movie our whole life.
This updated version of the hugely popular Broadway show was released in 2004 and has a running length of 2hours 23 minutes. Starring as the mysterious Phantom is Gerard Butler who had previously starred alongside Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and the Phantom's obsession Christine is brilliantly played by Emmy Rossum (Mystic River and the soon to be released blockbuster Poseidon). Other notable characters include the hilarious Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting & Sleepers) as Carlotta. The movie is directed by, a strange choice I think, Joel Schumacher (who, alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the screenplay) who has also directed the excellent Phone Booth (starring Colin Farrell) and the not so great Batman & Robin (starring George Clooney among others). The Phantom of the Opera is based upon a novel written in 1908 about a disfigured man who dresses in masks and capes & terrorizes a Paris Opera theatre, whilst at the same time falling in love with its leading lady. It is said that the story of the Phantom is based upon some of its authors own experiences, the chap who wrote all this is called Gaston Leroux. For all the thespians out there Leroux has also written many horror stories including Rouilable, The Haunted Chair and The Wax Mask.
Personally I loved the massively successful stage musical version by Andrew Lloyd Webber but I have to say that I felt a bit let down by the film version of the Phantom of the Opera. If anyone has read the novel then they will know that it is a very dark and depressing story, almost saddening in the personal story of the Phantom himself. The major flaws that this film suffers from is firstly the poor writing & secondly the constant switching of a gothic setting & big-production musical numbers. The problem with the second of these flaws is that the film struggles to decide what it really wants to be and so ends up somewhere in the middle and therefore feels rather flat.
Originally the film was set to star the stars of the stage Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman but in the end it settled for a trio of relative unknowns, Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson as Raoul. The problem with this type of movie is that whilst the actors / actresses can definately sing, it would be unfair to judge them on their acting skills. Although in my opinion I think that Gerard Butler struggled to have any great screen presence as the Phantom.
I suppose you could watch this film without knowing any of the background for the original story however I would suggest that the movie would seem very average to the viewers who do this. The basic storyline is that Christine is a rising opera star who has taken part in extensive singing lessons from the ghostly Phantom who lurks beneath the dramatic setting of the Opera House. The reason the Phantom will not reveal himself to Christine is because he is hideously scarred and as he is in love with her - he fears that she will reject him. He consoles himself with trying to make Christine a star but as soon as he achieves this goal he loses her to her childhood sweetheart Raoul. From then on, the Phantom's jealousy rages and has horrific consequences for all who go near him...
As I mentioned earlier the original story aims for shock and horror, Lloyd Webber's version instead focuses on the romance and the opera. Within this version Webber succeeds in emphasizing the romance as there can be no argument that the singing is fantastic but you never quite feel the emotion through the exchanges in dialogue and this is ultimately where the film falls down.
The directors approach to the material is fairly average, you are certainly NOT dazzled by the techniques used as opposed to the flamboyant and energy-filled direction of Baz Lurhmanns (think thats how you spell it!!) Moulin Rouge. My favourite scene was where the chandelier is raised and the Opera House returns to its 1870 roots - i thought this was a brilliant visual image, it was just a shame that the rest of the film was up to this standard.
Will fans of the musical like this movie version? It could be argued either way really, however in my opinion there is a distinct lack of energy in the film that always appears in bundles on the live stage. Also the lack of presence from the main character the Phantom takes alot from the character, you just wonder whether people would pay to see this film if there wasn't such a built-in audience for it already.
As to be expected the music is fantastic and this where most people will form their opinions on whether they liked the film or not, Andrew Lloyd Webber is hugely skilled as a composer and the haunting tones of the Phantom's music are extremely powerful.
Overall this is a film for fans of the stage musical, it does feel a little overlong but if you love the music of the Phantom of the Opera then no doubt you will love this aswell.
Thanks for reading!
Like most people who cant carry a tune in a padded backpack, I am always faintly awestruck by good singers. And never more so than in musicals. Opera singing is so clearly a skill beyond most mortals that, perversely, I view it as a glorious party trick, while we all think we know about the vocal manipulations required to get your average popster to the level of passable mediocrity. And then, in the middle, you have these people who can fill large theatres with their voices, often competing with whole ORCHESTRAS, and move audiences to tears with songs about amnesiac cats, Old Testament prophets and South American dictators. Its special.
Filming Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals makes pretty good sense commercially. Massive international fanbase, high public profile and no need to worry about the soundtrack album beyond maybe adding a new cover.
For all this, however, theyre few and far between, particularly now its hip to knock Alan Parkers Evita with Madonnas finest screen work and Antonio Banderas chewing up the scenery.
So what better man to resurrect ALWs movie franchise hopes than the man who crippled the Batman series? Hes used to filming nutters who wear masks, capes and live in caves. Step foward Joel Schumacher and Phantom of the Opera.
Based loosely on a Gaston Leroux novel widely held to be one of the worst books ever written, Phantom of the Opera has always captivated and there have also been several non-musical adaptations. A beautiful singer, a disfigured but occasionally sympathetic madman, roses, masks, chandeliers and underground lakes, its a distillation of all the cheesy fiction thats ever been written or will be written.
And yet, because deep down we all love watching blokes in big shirts having sword fights, it works. Despite a few plot worries and cinematographical wobbles, the film is effortlessly entertaining, telling in flashback the tale of Raoul and Christines courtship, and of its complication by her masked music tutor.
It starts slowly, with an auction of the opera houses contents in black and white. The auctioneer is that bloke you see popping up loads on telly. He dulls it right down, until the chandelier is raised and we get an ear-splitting rendition of the main theme as the opera house is magically restored to its full glory AND full colour. Its a perfect sequence, marred only slightly by the following ten minutes of girls singing about angels and old boyfriends.
In a nutshell, you see, this is a film that relies heavily on its titular anti-hero. Every scene where the Phantom is absent feels flat or, at best, as though its only purpose is to set things up for his next appearance. We never care about the two entrepreneurs who buy the opera house, simply because all the other characters ignore them. The Phantom has all the best lines, all the best suits and all the best songs. His adoration of Christine is a deal more romantic than Raoul, who is blatantly just looking to get his end away. Im not sure it would be possible to watch this film without wanting the Phantom to win, frankly. Hes got a bit of a squint under the mask but given that his competition for Christines love looks like Meatloafs daughter...
Ah yes. Meatloaf. Despite having virtually given his whole career to the concept of rock opera, the star of Fight Club and the Rocky Horror Picture Show does not appear in this film. So why mention him? Because the title song, Phantom of the Opera, replete with torch-lit passages and cheesy duets, looks entirely like Michael Bays seminal video promo for I would do anything for love (but I wont do that). Obviously the films plot was going to require a little stumble in the world of kitsch from time to time, but there was no need for the visual style to embrace it quite so eagerly.
The songs really are great though. Lloyd Webber and Schumacher decided to go for a younger cast, with a non-singer as the Phantom, and what a great move it was. True, theyd probably be laughed offstage in the West End, but this is a movie and theres no question of anyone ever singing live. As a result, the singing is generally raw and passioned while still hitting the notes, the emphasis on performance rather than technical skill. No one makes this clearer than Gerard Butlers Phantom. His performance is career-making and he convinces equally as the suave musical genius and as the crazed and faintly petulant victim of unrequited love.
He sings well, too. The emotion is always evident in his voice, whether its the proud sensitivity of Music of the Night or the cold desperation of Point of no Return. When he closes All I Ask of You with a blood-curdling final couplet, it shook most of the audience to the core. Scary man.
This film has been criticised on two main counts the obsession with showing an upstairs downstairs view of the opera house and the fairly slight nature of the Phantoms facial deformity. To tackle the latter point, critics are being a bit crap. Theres no need for excessive injury prosthetics for a film production as Gerard Butler, unlike Michael Crawford, doesnt have to worry that people in the Dress Circle might not be able to make out his swollen face. Cinema allows close-ups and that introduces a degree of subtlety. Making the Phantom into the Elephant Man would serve no useful purpose to the film, and would detract from the pleasant little story unfolding around the scenes where he is unmasked.
As for the upstairs downstairs thing, well, its true that we do get to see the contrast between the grandeur of the auditorium and the scaffolding of the rest of the theatre a few more times than is perhaps desirable. But almost all of this is to increase the audiences relationship with a character who later attracts the Phantoms wrath. Moreover, the contrast is a stab at a bit of subtext, the stage is like a mask for the whole Opera House, that kind of thing.
No, if youre going to be picky, pick on the way in which the theatre owners dismiss the Phantom as a nutter, but then produce his opera anyway. Pick on the futile attempt to open up the film from the opera house building by introducing an exterior scene which merely highlights how confined the film really is. Pick on the song Masquerade with its painfully obvious lyrics and obligatory full cast dance number that probably looks great on stage but more like a Steps video when filmed. Theres another mask behind you what a load of balls! Pick on Jennifer Ellison, who was trumpeted as appearing but only pops up for a couple of minutes and two lines of singing. Pick on the random music box motif which is set up to be deeply significant at the beginning but then goes utterly nowhere.
But, having said all that, ENJOY some really LOUD songs with NO new material in a lame bid to secure the Best Original Song Oscar (Lloyd Webber and Schumacher even filmed it but decided it was crap, apparently). Enjoy the finest cheesy rock opera ever written (even those Queen-style electric guitar licks are still there in all their glory). And thats all I ask of you...
There are two types of people in the art world; those who love musicals, and those who hate them. There are no mediators when it comes to adding a song or dance or two to a perfectly serious story. I have always been one of those haters; having found it difficult to stomach the usually cheesy interlude of wistful songs and badly choreographed dance steps. Hooooowever: I, lover of all things rock and roll, allowed myself to go see The Phantom of the Opera on the big screen. Why? Because from the small snippets Id seen, the songs and dances were prolific, dark, menacing pieces. No cheesiness here. So off on my merry way I went to see it in the cinema. I actually loved it, so when the film was released commercially I of course bought the video. Lo and behold, I somehow found myself watching the film from a very different perspective, making for a different view entirely...
I always like to start with a (brief) plot outline, though in this case I think the storyline needs a bigger mention. This is because the traditional story, for some reason or another, has been deviated for this screen adaptation. Rather than the old fire in the theatre story, this version tells the tale of a deformed boy forced to perform in some kind of cruel circus freak show. This boy is rescued by a kindly young woman, who hides him in the dark bowels of the theatre she works in. Fair does; it works well enough in that it is dramatic and dark. I cant quite understand why the director and writers decided upon this course; there seems no other reason than to make their own mark upon a well told tale. The bulk of the script thereon in sticks quite faithfully to the original tale, detailing the boys later darkness as he attempts to propel his protégée to stardom.
The lead role of the Phantom is filled by the relatively unknown Scots actor Gerard Butler. In terms of presence, he does well in the initial scenes to portray the character with a dark edge combined with a smouldering charisma. His tall frame sweeping off into another secret corridor is as romantic as needs be, though sadly thats about as far as his talents go. Even when I first saw this film in the cinema, which was a far more enjoyable experience than the video one, I noticed that Butler couldnt really sing. To me this is somewhat of a massacre. Who chooses a man who cannot actually sing to portray the most infamous musical genius of all time? At times Butler merely shouts his lines to mask the fact his vocal chords arent up to a par with the rest of the cast, meaning sometimes the songs he performs in can become overly grating and menacing.
Thankfully, Emmy Rossum in her role as the ill-fated Christine Daae does far better than Butler in the musical numbers. Her soprano voice is sweet and at times aching; utterly perfect for the task at hand, which is to portray Christine as a talented beauty with an element of naivety and innocence. All is well on that front then. My only problem with this actress is that she is, quite frankly, rather bland. Undoubtedly attractive, she could hardly be called a plain Jane, though her presence is glaringly lacking. Coming across as annoyingly weak and quiet at times, Rossum doesnt really provide the flair that would make the Phantoms avid interest in her seem credible.
Another notable cast member is that of Jennifer Ellison, ex-Brookside actress and a previously thoroughly poor one at that. Of all the cast members, I was most surprised with her. Terrified that she would portray the character is badly as she did her Brookside one, I was pleasantly shocked when she came across as subtle yet confident, with a nice singing voice suited to her role as slightly beneath Christine. Minnie Driver was also rather good, portraying the terrible Carlotta with a wonderful snootiness and diva-esque behaviour to create several incredibly funny scenes. In short then, the minor roles were FAR better filled than the main ones.
The cinematography of this film cannot be faulted, thankfully. The truly fabulous scene that sees the old, dilapidated theatre slowly transform into the majestic beauty it once was, combined with the majestic musical accompaniment, is quite honestly breathtaking. The vibrant colours of the past are captured perfectly, and are well suited to the dramatic storyline, also creating a wonderful sense of nostalgia. The future segments are set only in black and white, a clear nod to the fact that Christine is not present in any of these scenes. Her presence is thus skilfully lightened and dramatised by the sheer vibrancy of the set designs and costumes for the scenes set in the past.
Musically, Andrew Lloyd Webbers presence is clearly a winning factor. The Phantom theme, updated wonderfully, is a dark, menacing and faster paced piece than ever before. Each time the opening notes of this song are heard the sense of anticipation derived is superb. There are though, as you often find with musicals, certain songs that could have been left out, with three or four of them coming across as mere conversations with a tune, which slightly detracts from the melodrama of the better songs.
Overall, The Phantom of the Opera was a slick, exciting and colourful cinema experience. Why have I only rated this VHS as three stars then? Its really quite simple; having seen this film on the big screen, the video is a poor second hand copy that really doesnt compare. Without the benefit of a ten foot screen and the standard loud volume of a cinema showing, this film loses its dramatic edge that made it so enjoyable to watch at the movies. In this sense, the fantastic cinematography and score than I mentioned is completely lost on your bog standard television screen. Once sitting in the very normal confines of your own home, the majestic edge is gone, and suddenly all you have is a bright musical that could have been far better had the two lead roles been filled with more skilled actors. In other words, if you didnt see this at the cinema, dont bother buying the video, because on the small screen you will only find disappointment.
This new film version of the popular theatre production of 'Phantom of the Opera,' is fantastic. It tells the story of innocent chorus girl Christine Daae, who ends up being the lead singer at the opera house. This is of course thanks to the phantom who gets rid of the last girl by scaring her away.
The opera house is very lavish with golds and creams, crimson reds etc. They all make the movie more romantic by this use of colour. There are also gold statues and a very impressive chandelier that ends up smashing to the ground in the final scene. There are also wonderous marble staircases and romantic balconies where songs are sung, words of love and romance are spoken.
The popular songs like 'all I ask of you,' and 'Music of the Night,' are sung in a romantic way. All the actors/ actresses are handsome and beautiful. The songs are made more realistic and intreaging by the use of snowfall, statues, horseriding and other stunning effects.
I first saw this film at the cinema but bought it as soon as it was released . It is made in such a way that you end up feeling sorry for the phantom. He is hopelessly in love with Christine he will do anything to have her. He is blinded by love because the sad part is she loves another and doesn't want the phantom.
The end part where the phantom whisks Christine away to his dark dungeon where he lives, is breathtaking. The scenes where the phantom tries to blackmail Christine into loving him are heart wrenching. It is a true tear jerker. After all, its not his fault he's like this and his face is scared.
I would urge anyone who hasn't seen this to rent or buy it now because they will not be disappointed. It is well worth the money and I have been personally surprised at how many people went to the cinema to see it. These include people I would never imagine liking this kind of movie.
This movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webbers Phantom of the opera is truly amazing! To be honest with you I was a bit dubious about how the transfer from stage to screen would work as the stage show itself is fabulous.
Well there was no cause for concern as the story loses none of its magic in this movie and being a movie there is more scope for special effects and more elaborate scenery (although the stage scenery is quite amazing in itself)
The movie is pretty much like the stage show from the auction at the beginning to the grand finale! The back in time chandelier sequence at the beginning of the movie is quite amazing and all the songs from the show are there and are still powerful and moving. The performance of the actors is excellent and the songs are performed spot on! There are very few differences in the movie to the stage show so fans of the show will not be disappointed.
Lloyd Webber was one of the producers on this film so it would have met his satisfaction.
All in all this is a great opportunity for fans to see this story over and over again without paying out upto £40 for a theatre ticket.
But the true magic of The Phantom is in the theatre and if you havent seen it there try and do so you wont be disappointed!
I've watched a lot of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical performed in the theatre and have been both excited and some and disappointed with others. As for Phantom of the Opera I can only remember snippets of it as I went to it as a 10 year old on a day when I wasn't feeling very well and was a tad grumpy. However, I've heard plenty of music from it being played around my house and was pleased to see it being advertised in the cinema a few months back.
The movie version directed by Joel Schumacher is a movie of the musical and not of the book Phantom of The Opera, and Andrew Lloyd Webber himself was involved in the making of this film.
Making this film was most definately an unenviable task as many of the audience to the film would have already seen the show in the theatre and would've had their own ideas as to how certain scenes should look on scene, and most people view films based on musicals as pretty cheesy. Admittedly, I was worried that it would be a cheesy and disappointing affair myself, but being a bit of a cinema addict, couldn't resist going to see it and was not disappointed in the slightest.
In case you don't know, the musical is based around an opera house in Paris that is plagued by its own 'ghost' who sends demanding letters to people involved in the Opera and sometimes even gets up to much more sinister antics. The 'ghost' becomes obsessed with a young chorus girl by the name of Christine, giving her the gift of music and she soon rises to recognition. The patron of the opera is a previous old flame of Christine's by the name of Raoul and she soon finds herself having to choose between the dangerous, yet seductive Phantom or the sweet and honourable Raoul. It all sounds a bit odd, but trust me, it plays out a lot better on screen.
Obviously, most of the film is set to music and if you can't stand the idea of the main characters bursting into song at least once per scene, then this is definately not the film for you, but the words are easy to make out and it can be easy to forget that the story is being sung to you, so don't be too easily put off by that.
The music from Phantom of the Opera in my opinion is some of the best that Andrew Lloyd Webber has written. It is truly impressive and stirring at points and touching and emotional at others. The orchestra was increased for the recording of this film, so the music becomes even more impressive to hear than in the theatre. All the characters sing their own parts, which is even more impressive when you consider that the Phantom was played by Gerard Butler who wasn't even a singer.
The sets are breathtaking, too, with the opera house itself being grand and stunning, complete with the amazing crystal chandelier that plays such an important part in the story.
The characterisation is excellent, too. By the end of the film, you can't help but be touched by the plight of the Phantom and involved in Christine's emotions for the two men in her life. There is also a good amount of comic relief provided by the new opera owners and the 'prima donna' of the opera, Carlotta.
The film is beautifully filmed. It shifts between black and white and colour with the black and white representing a later point in history than when the events of the Phantom of the Opera actually occured and the colour scenes being 'flashbacks' to the time of the events, although the majority of the film is in colour.
The film seemed to receive mostly terrible reviews, but I know that I loved it and couldn't wait to buy it when it was released on DVD, so I definately think it is at least worth hiring.
Its 1911and there is an auction being held in the old, disused opera house in Paris. Various items are up for sale but one in particular gets the attention of two visitors. Its an old musical monkey that plays a little tune and crashes symbols together in time and the bidding gets quite heated until the woman seemingly realises who the gentleman in the wheelchair is and lets him have the ornament. A knowing nod of the head, confirms their acquaintance.
Next up the auctioneer announces that they are about to start the bidding on the old crystal chandelier that used to hang proudly in the centre of the ceiling in the opera house. As he gets the workers to raise the artefact for better viewing, he starts to explain the story behind how the chandelier was said to have come crashing down because of a mysterious phantom
This was the opening scene of the film and set the precedent of just how grand and impressive a picture the viewers in the audience were about to witness. From panning into the house (reminiscent of the Way Baz Lurman did in Moulin Rouge) and setting the scene in black and white, as the chandelier is risen the screen is transformed with a wash of colour as the true grandeur of the once great opera house is shown.
The basic premise of the story is set around the cast and crew of the opera house, in particular Christine, and how they deal with the mysterious events that plague them as well as the notes left by the phantom. What transpires is a story of unrequited love and one man who has hidden from the outside worlds struggle to be with the girl he has fallen in love with through her voice and song.
The cinematography of the piece really is fantastic. You get a visual treat while watching this film and all the sets have fantastic detail which extends right down to the intricacies of the gargoyles that are dotted all around the gothic style opera house. There are plenty of long panning camera shots throughout and the director Joel Schumacher (noted for such films as Phone Booth, 8MM, A Time to Kill & two Batman movies) very much draws from the dark gothic style used in his Batman efforts which works to great cinematic effect. The special effects (with the exception of the big fire which I thought looked a little fake) are spot on with the dark underworld feel of the underground lair with candle rising through the water creating tremendous atmosphere. The costumes were both understated and over the top with each respective character, and very much mimicked the way it was portrayed on the stage. The only thing that I was not too sure about was the size of the famous mask worn by the Phantom as it did seem to show a bit too much of his face and left you wondering how disfigured he could actually be under such a small thing.
The story itself, has gone through various incarnations. A lot of people may not realise, but it was actually the inspiration for one of the Freddie Crugar films! This effort however, it strictly taken from the Musical of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Webber and with this in mind, they have done extremely well at adapting it for the silver screen. However, while those of us who are familiar with the show version, and will go ah, Im glad they got that bit in, others who are not may find that the story seems a little fragmented. Personally, I felt that it did drag a little bit up until the point in the story where the Phantom makes himself more known to the present owners of the opera house, the main Soprano (Driver), Christine (the Phantoms love interest played by Emmy Rossum known from The Day After Tomorrow) and Raoul (Christines love interest and patron of the opera house played by Patrick Wilson). At this point, both the story and the music pick up a bit as before it did seem a little dragged out and depressing. I have to say though, I did come out of the film feeling that I knew the story much more than I did when leaving the theatre production. Andrew Lloyd Webber (who produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay)has actually been quoted as saying that, in his opinion, it is the closest that a film has managed to be to the show version, and quite a few of his have gone that way, so that is high praise for the film makers indeed! Staying so true to the show however, does make it feel rather long (running time was just over two hours) and I have to say I did look at my watch towards the end, which I never like to do when in the cinema.
The acting in the film was ok, with some coming across much better than others. Butlerss portrayal of the Phantom was ok, although I think he was hindered with the size of the mask as from my experience of the character, he is meant to come across as very emotionless while covered up however we could see the facial expressions Butler was making while masked which did detract from that somewhat. Also, his voice was nowhere near up to the high standard set by Michael Crawford with him resorting to a sort of shout when it got to some of the high notes. Rossum was an admirable Chistine, playing the part in a delicate and innocent way. She makes the character come across slightly naïve and also manages very well to convey the fear she develops for the Phantom impressively. Singing wise, she was good but again, if you are a fan of the musical, there are better performances available from the likes of Sarah Brightman. Bossum just didnt seem to have the same depth to her vocals and sometime got a bit lost in the more emotional aspects of the songs. Conversely, I found Wilsons Raoul to have the opposite attributes. While he was a bit wooden in the acting of the part, his voice was perfect for his numbers and very much conveyed his love for Christine in a convincing and heartfelt manner with his rage towards the Phantom very evident too. The best performance in my opinion, came from Minnie Driver (still think thats a strange name to give a child!) as the soprano Carlotta who gave the part just the right amount of gusto and over the top theatrics you would expect from an Italian opera singer and her vocals were absolutely spot on (although it has to be noted that the higher notes were dubbed). Its no surprise that she is about to embark on a singing career and put acting on the back burner for the time being!
Musically, it was everything you would expect from knowing the show. If you dont, it is very orchestral with soft songs from the emotional sections mostly featuring the strings and woodwinds sections of the orchestra which a lot of the time rise through huge crescendos which are impressive in helping the viewer feel the emotion and scale of what is happening on the screen. For me though, it will simply never have the same effect as having the orchestra in the pit and no amount of Dolby digital surround sound is going to achieve the atmosphere created by a live orchestra.
So, overall I did very much enjoy this film however as a lover of the show, I was always going to. It does have a lot to offer people who have not seen the show itself however I am not sure how it would be taken from people who are not lovers of the musical genre per say.
To that end, I am going to give the film the rating of 4 stars as it is a very impressive looking film and while the stars are maybe not the best at performing those particular characters, they cope well enough so as not to distract from the picture as a whole. So I will recommend going to see this one!
Cast List (courtesy of imdb.com)
Gerard Butler .... The Phantom
Emmy Rossum .... Christine
Patrick Wilson .... Raoul
Miranda Richardson .... Madame Giry
Minnie Driver .... Carlotta
Ciarán Hinds .... Firmin
Simon Callow .... Andre
Victor McGuire .... Piangi
Jennifer Ellison .... Meg Giry
*** This review was first published by myself at http://www.epinions.com/content_168009109124 ***
This film version of The Phantom of the Opera is, of course, based on the popular musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I have never been a fan of his work although there are some really nice songs Ive heard from Phantom. (Never did think that Sarah Brightman could sing though ) Anyway, this is the film of the musical. Im presuming it is reasonably authentic to the original since Lloyd Webber was heavily involved in the film, co-writing and co-producing it.
The choice of Director (Joel Schumaker) left me puzzled (I guess Ive never really forgiven him for the atrocity that was Batman & Robin). Sure enough, from the very first scene (a taxi pulling up, camera zooms in on badge on cab door) it is obvious that every directorial cliche in the book is going to be used here.
The plot involves the new ownership of a theatre finding out that the fabled Phantom of the Opera is in fact very real. The benefactor, a Count, falls in love with Christine, one of the chorus girls (an old acquaintance) who unexpectedly gets a chance to be a star. She has a remarkable talent but a secret behind how it was developed. One small problem for the new ownership arises the phantom views the theatre as his and wants things done his way. Theres more to it than that, of course, and there definitely could have been a tremendous film made out of it.
The film is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overlong (143 minutes) and stretches the plot far beyond its potential. The pacing is also a major problem I came close to falling asleep on a couple of occasions and, even worse, actually wished I had! Its tortuously slow in several sections and while it tries to be suspenseful, all it really achieves is constant melodrama. Also the terrible face that the Phantom was concealing was, when revealed, nothing particularly appalling. I know someone with an eczema scar thats probably worse, and nobody has ever recoiled from him in horror! (At least as far as I know )
Gerard Butler in the role of the Phantom does okay as far as his acting goes but I didnt like his singing voice. (At least Im presuming they all did their own singing as there were no actual song credits at the end of the movie.) I can understand why they wanted a voice that sounded tortured and earthy but I just felt he overdid it a bit. Patrick Wilson as Raoul does pretty well too and had a good singing voice, though sadly it was underused.
I had a big problem with Emmy Rossums performance. She is certainly pretty and has the voice of an angel but unfortunately she only seems capable of one expression. Her character is also extremely annoying while her lover is being strangled she stands back and watches (with her one expression) and pleads for his life. I know this is a fault in many films but surely shed want to actually try and help? Thank goodness women arent really as pathetic as films make out they are or at leas, I hope not!
Ciar¡n Hinds and Simon Callow give fine performances as the managers of the theatre and lend a much needed light touch to the early proceedings. Unfortunately they play the second half of the film completely straight, which I guess is understandable. A slight comic touch would have made the other scenes more effective though.
Miranda Richardson ably portrays Madame Giry, who knows more than shes letting on. Its a shame that her character is rarely required to do more than look pensive. Prima Donna Carlotta is played by Minnie Driver, who obviously enjoys herself in the role. Jennifer Ellison was good in her role as Christines friend Meg Giry (Madame Girys daughter), though she didnt really have much to do.
Thank you for the music well, actually you could have kept it
Obviously the music plays a big part in a musical (well duh). The original score is rehashed to sound more modern in places, which I didnt feel worked too well. One problem was that the music for Phantom was designed for the acoustics of a theatre and just didnt reproduce very well in a cinema. However the main problem I had with the music (and the songs in general) was that most of it could be described as mediocre (and thats if Im being kind!). In fact the word Id choose to sum up the music and songs in general, and if Im brutally honest the whole film, is tedious.
There was only one song in the whole film that I felt was handled really well, and that was All I ask of you while the love-struck Raoul and Christine are on top of the theatre. (Literally not metaphorically.) Considering that virtually the whole film was sung rather than spoken there should have been a lot more memorable moments.
Okay so there are some good points
Much as I didnt enjoy the film overall, there are some aspects of it that definitely deserve praise. The sets are sumptuous, the photography gorgeous, and the art direction stunning. Sadly, these things are not nearly enough to save the film, though at least they help it avoid the ignominy of a 1-star rating. One point near the end managed to be genuinely touching rather than melodramatic. But it just wasnt enough.
Well, there you have it. I found the film boring in the extreme, but then Im not a great fan of musicals or Lloyd Webber. If you are either, youll probably enjoy Phantom of the Opera a whole lot more than I did! This does seem to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it films and there's very little middle ground, so if you were a fan to begin with you'll probably love it, if not you'll probably hate it.
Just to warn parents, there are some parts that young children may find frightening or upsetting. Though I think theyll be asleep long before that happens
(MPAA rating PG-13 for brief violent images. UK rating 12A.)
In this Argento offering of the classic film, a slightly new twist is added, the Phantom doesnt wear a mask and is not disfigured physically at all, infact his hurt is from inside. The Phanton (Julian Sands) is dumped down the sewers as a young child and is raised by the rats that live down there. The grows into a man and lives in the ancient catacombs below the opera house in question, when he hears a young girl singing. The girl is Christine (Asia Argento - Daughter of the director), the Phantom falls in love with her and tries to make her the main attraction of the opera house by killing the other attractions. There is also the opera's Ratcatcher, a strange man named Ignace (Istvan Bubik). The Phantom sees him as an enemy. After all, he is killing the guy's adopted family. At one point he builds a go-cart rat-killing machine. This is kind of just forced in the story line with no credibility. We can't believe he could build such an impressive machine. We soon find out why it is here- so we can have a nice decapitation. The film is very weak for a Argento film and tries to move away from the directors usual style - Giallos, but Sands is the stand out performance of the film. His phantom portrays it correctly with the right amount of Crazyness and Fear. Asia Argento performance is very weak, she seems able to perform well in films her father doesnt direct but when he does her performance are never very good. The films direction, as usual, is strange but good but lots of colours and strange camera angles but lacks the visual content we are treated to in Inferno or Suspiria. Like most Argento films it has its fair share of gore involved and credit goes to the FX man, We are treated to a man torn in half, an impalement, a ripped out tongue and a decapitation. Gone from this film are all the things that make Argento so fun to watch, gone are the well staged murder set-pieces, gone is the Goblin soundtrack and gone is the chance
to guess who the killer is throughout the whole film. Hopefully Argentos next film, I Can't Sleep will be the directors return to the world of Giallo and all will be forgiven.