The Phantom of the Opera
One of the worlds most renowned musicals makes the leap to
the Hollywood big screen in a grand, epic, visually satisfying motion
Based on Andrew Lloyd Webbers hugely successful play, The
Phantom of the Opera is all about the disgruntled, disfigured
phantom who haunts the Paris opera house in the 19th century.
It's essentially a love story (triangle) between Christine (Emmy
Rossum), Raoul (Patrick Wilson), and the Phantom (Gerard Butler).
When the star of the show (Minnie Driver) walks out during
rehearsal, Christine is made the headliner, and draws the attention of
everybodys favorite (at least in pre-Spidey or Lone Ranger days) masked
man. But Raoul and Christine are destined to be lovers, at least in the world
of true romance. Naturally, there needs to be some force trying to keep them
apart, and that comes in the form of The Phantom of the Opera.
As you can see, the story itself is about as paper thin as most
romantic tales. The remaining time is spent watching everybody sing and be sad
or angry. And like any large scale Hollywood musical, there are plenty of lush
visuals to please the eyes while the ears are being tended to.
Unfortunately, the movie is pretty weak. As hard as everybody
tries, as good as everything looks the whole production just lacks any
real zing (or for that matter zoom, zap or zork). You can try all you like, but
you just wont be engrossed.
The main problem (and really, the only one you need) comes from
the three main actors, who give everything theyve got, but dont
have the vocal depth necessary to pull off this job. Emmy Rossum has plenty of
range and a great voice, but not enough power. Her charm as an actress
cant make up for it. Gerard Butler is a handsome Scot with some acting
chops, and its impressive he has as good a voice as he does, but the role
of the Phantom calls for more presence, and a positively booming voice; Butler
has neither. Finally, Patrick Wilson has the thankless task of playing the
third most important character in the film, and is the third most talented
actor of the main three. He seems to have been cast more for his boyish good
looks than his talent as a singer or an actor (although he still gives it his
all, and thats commendable).
This is an example of when it might be better to cast singers who
can act, rather than actors who can sing.
The film plods along at its own pace, seemingly oblivious to the
fact that it takes a really, really long time for anything to actually happen.
So much so that by the time something does happen, weve more than lost
interest. And the interesting parts are not interesting enough to rekindle the
interest weve lost.
The saving grace would normally be the music, but since its
all delivered unsatisfactorily, theres really not a lot this flick has
going for it. Case in point: it takes more than good intentions to make a good
If you did enjoy the film, the DVD presentation should prove
satisfactory. Available in single and double disc editions, Warner Bros. has
done a good job here. The video is 2.40:1, enhanced for widescreen TVs, and has
great color and detail, showing off Joel Schumachers vision of the sets
and visuals to pristine quality.
The audio makes good use of the surround speakers, as well as the
subwoofer, to provide a reference quality Dolby Digital track.
The single disc version features only a theatrical trailer, but
the two-disc set sports an entire second disc of extras. Basically they work
out to about two hour-long documentaries focusing on everything relating to the
film, including the history of the story. We get the typical interviews with
the cast and crew, who all reminisce on their experience, spliced with plenty
of behind-the-scenes footage. All this stuff is very well produced, and
wed dare say it's even more entertaining than the film itself.
Theres also a deleted scene that would have subjected us to another song
by The Phantom.
The Phantom of the Opera, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
141 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital
Starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda
Produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Screenplay by Andrew Lloyd
Webber & Joel Schumacher
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think