CORPORATE LINE: Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius (Gerard Butler) who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, waging a reign of terror over its occupants. When he falls fatally in love with the lovely Christine (Emmy Rossum), the Phantom devotes himself to creating a new star for the Opera, exerting a strange sense of control over the young soprano as he nurtures her extraordinary talents.
THE GOOD: Certainly it’s impossible to deny the over-the-top production that doesn’t spare a dime on candles, costumes, and pretty people. Schumacher goes big because it’s the only way he knows how to go. If you want a spectacle the Phantom is such a display—but not as much as the stage show.
Minnie Driver does a fantastic job selling herself as the diva. It is so good that I watched and never once was conscious that it was Driver until the credits rolled. Talk about taking on a character and selling it. Driver steals every scene her diva storms through.
THE BAD: The most apparent flaw is the fact that these actors are lip-synching. Of course there are many dynamics that cause this however there is something false, something utterly disappointing. This is ultimately why it pales in comparison to the stage show.
Emmy Rossum plays the lead character Christine. Sure she is beautiful and can sing like a bird yet she never has the emotion to connect the audience. Ultimately you’d rather have the Phantom get what he wants because Gerard Butler (the not so hideous Phantom) is so much more connectable.
The Phantom of the Opera is long—overlong. It seems for sometime that it will never finish. Thankfully it does but not before you grow ever tiresome of the similar scenes, scenarios, and song. There is a certain amount of awkwardness as some sing, some wait to sing, and others aren’t sure what to do so as not to seem uncertain how to act as if they aren’t acting. Films on the whole usually cut characters out of the frame so this awkward feeling doesn’t exist—here its not so easy and doesn’t translate nearly as well.
FRANKLY: The Phantom of the Opera works better on stage as this film is little more than a Meatloaf video without the fat guy getting the hot girl in the end and riding off into the sunset. At least in the Phantom the pretty boy wins over the scary fellow with the horrifically deformed face. Isn’t that what we all want out of our fairy tales?
For those who don’t care for musicals and films that are sung throughout this is not going to change your mind—instead it might keep you away from musicals forever. The Phantom of the Opera is bought and sold on the performances of its cast and this cast is weak and has very little passion, which leads to a lot of fidgeting and looking around as you wait for the credits to roll.
+ Charlie Craine