The Phantom of the Opera: Movie, DVD, Blu-ray disc Review (2005)

8/24/2007 Posted by Admin

The music of the trite

(Originally published Jan. 21, 2005)

It had to happen--people were clamoring for it to happen--so here it is, the music of the trite.

Joel Schumacher’s decadent, unabashedly over-the-top movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s equally audacious “The Phantom of the Opera,” is now reverberating like a cowbell through theaters. It’s about as far removed from Rupert Julian’s 1925 silent classic as it could be, but that’s no surprise. So goes the culture.

As written by Schumacher and Webber, this ripe, molten bodice-ripper features sets so heroically lavish, they often do the movie a favor, detracting from the muddy lip-synching, Webber’s intrusive, repetitious score, the awkward way the characters weave in and out of song and dialogue--often mid-sentence--and the shaky structure that frames this bastardization of Gaston Leroux’s story.

While no fan of “Phantom” will go to the movie seeking subtlety or nuance, even the most diehard aficionados might be struck dumb by the sheer level of the crescendo and camp Schumacher achieves here. Indeed, there are moments when the movie is brought to such a heaving, crashing pitch, it seems as if the roof might blow off the movie house. Restraint is forbidden here—hell, restraint is damned into submission--so parts of the movie naturally offer up guilty moments of jaw-dropping fun.

But only parts. Beginning in 1919 but set mostly in 1870, the film follows the mysterious phantom of the Paris Opera Populaire (Gerard Butler), a disfigured, caped cellar dweller who covets beautiful young Christine (Emmy Rossum) through a glass darkly, though she doesn’t know it.

A talented soprano, Christine is on the verge of falling in love with the wealthy Vicomte Raoul de Chigny (Patrick Wilson) when the Phantom, in a jealous snit, decides to make a pest of himself. He kidnaps Christine, he drops a chandelier on an audience when it suits him, he murders men at will, he beats his chest with brio--and, in the process, he helps to make Christine a star. He’d be perfect in the WWE.

Throughout, the performances are as uneven as the music. Butler’s Phantom looks good behind the mask, but his voice can’t soar into the stratosphere asked of it. Rossum is a highlight, possessing the sort of presence that suggests she’ll do fine as her career extends into better movies. Less promising is Wilson, who is too dull and generic to ignite a fire with Rossum, and Miranda Richardson as Madame Giry, who is saddled with the sort of thick, rubbery old-age makeup that looks as if they dipped her face in pancake batter and decided to call it good.

That said, you have to hand it to Minnie Driver as the Italian diva, Carlotta. In an effort to give the movie a measure of life, Driver throws herself to the wolves with the sort of raw, jumpy performance that would have suggested counseling is in her future if it weren’t obvious she was having so much fun. Her approach to the material is just right. Why try to be sane in a production so obviously insane? Here, she exists purely to mince, pout, scream, claw. Some will be grateful for the effort.

Grade: C






W I I W I N!

  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes

9 comments:

  1. Riri said...

    I get lost in the reviews! Thank you Chris

  2. phackett57 said...

    I would like to see this movie

    countryrebelh@aol.com

  3. rkont01 said...

    Emmy Rossum and Mini Driver steal the movie! I find the male characters in the movie forgetable!

  4. Anonymous said...

    Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out
    and say I really enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over
    the same topics? Appreciate it!

    my homepage golf simulators for Home

  5. Anonymous said...

    I just could not depart your website before suggesting that I actually loved the usual info a person provide for your visitors?
    Is going to be back continuously to check up on new posts

    My web blog - children dying in hot cars - http://www.subsim.com/wiki/index.php?title=User:SethCurry
    -

  6. Anonymous said...

    Very quickly this web site will be famous among all blogging and site-building users, due to it's fastidious posts

    Here is my web blog: golftec

  7. Anonymous said...

    Hey! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?
    I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked hard on.
    Any recommendations?

    my site - hobbies for men

  8. Anonymous said...

    Hey! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?
    I'm kinda paranoid about losing everything I've worked hard on.
    Any recommendations?

    Review my web-site :: hobbies for men

  9. Anonymous said...

    you are really a good webmaster. The site loading velocity is amazing.

    It kind of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick.
    Moreover, The contents are masterwork. you've done a magnificent job on this subject!

    Feel free to surf to my website appetite **