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The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera

One of the world’s most renowned musicals makes the leap to the Hollywood big screen in a grand, epic, visually satisfying motion picture.

Based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 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 everybody’s 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 won’t be engrossed.

The main problem (and really, the only one you need) comes from the three main actors, who give everything they’ve got, but don’t 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 can’t make up for it. Gerard Butler is a handsome Scot with some acting chops, and it’s 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 that’s 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, we’ve more than lost interest. And the interesting parts are not interesting enough to rekindle the interest we’ve lost.

The saving grace would normally be the music, but since it’s all delivered unsatisfactorily, there’s really not a lot this flick has going for it. Case in point: it takes more than good intentions to make a good movie.

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 Schumacher’s 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 we’d dare say it's even more entertaining than the film itself. There’s 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 5.1
Starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson
Produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Screenplay by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Joel Schumacher
Directed by Joel Schumacher


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