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The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

Andrew Lloyd Webbers The Phantom of the Opera

The worlds biggest musical!

Directed by:

Joel Schumacher

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 143 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a

Director Joel Schumacher is on a bit of hiding to nothing with this film. Those who love the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical are bound to pick faults with it, and those who hate all that Webber spawns will – well – hate this as well.

Me? Well, I did see the stage show a few years back, and my lasting impression of it was that the story was poor, the music was poor, but the special effects were breath-taking. That’s predominantly because, as someone who frequents the theatre less than regularly, I had no idea such jaw-dropping visual feats were possible in a live performance. In the cinema, however, I’m used to better. A falling chandelier or a river of candles might look incredible on stage, but on the big screen they equate to nothing better than a “so what?”. And there lies one of the key reasons why this valiant attempt at bringing ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ to the cinema screen is, frankly, a bit rubbish.

The story takes place in Paris, 1870, where an opera house is having a spot of bother with an unwanted lodger (Gerard Butler as the phantom who isn’t a phantom at all, but rather just a facially-disfigured bloke in a ‘Scream’ mask who refuses to leave). Up-and-coming songstress Christine (Emmy Rossum) has been inadvertently receiving singing lessons from said phantom – and, being a man, old Phants now wants some sugar in return. Of course, she thinks it’s the ghost of her dead Popsy who’s been teaching her to croon, the daft idiot. Even the side-character played by mouse-eyed pop scally Jennifer Ellison gives her a funny look when she hears that one.

Anyway, Christine’s dashing beau Raoul (Patrick Wilson) isn’t best chuffed when he hears what’s been going on. After all, to put things in perspective, his love rival is a man who looks like a cross between Freddy Kreuger and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. He’s also a man who floats maniacally around the basement in a tiny little boat and sleeps in a bed shaped like a giant sea-shell. In short, the Phantom is a nutter, and by the time the film’s plodded to a halt, there’s not a character or viewer who doesn’t know it.

Still, at least Phants keeps himself busy. For one thing, he makes all of his own masks. And he’s even written an opera for himself to star in, based on the tale of ‘Don Juan’. The trouble is, if he DOES insist on giving himself the lead role in all of his plays, he’s kind of restricted in what stories he chooses to adapt. I mean, after ‘Don Juan’ there’s ‘The Lone Ranger’, and then maybe ‘Batman’, but that’s really about it.

You may well have already guessed that I’m not going to recommend ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. I still don’t think much of the music, and there appear to be only three or four actual numbers, which are then repeated to death with tweaked lyrics, and linked by inane, directionless warbling. As for the rest of it? Well, the sets look shoogly, the acting’s wooden (particularly on Rossum’s part), and its attempts at the macabre are a bit like The League of Gentlemen only without the humour.

It's Got: Minnie Driver having a diva strop and then starting to sing – so Phants drops an over-sized tapestry on her head. Good man.

It Needs: Christine to stop taking the Phantom’s mask off! Jeez woman, doesn’t the fact that he’s wearing the thing in the first place tell you that he might be a little touchy about it? It’s no wonder the poor fellah chucks a wobbler every time she does it.


all of which with the advantage of not using Webber's music., Any of the countless other adaptations of the story to have been made


The Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your mind! But, like the owners of that 19th Century Parisian opera house, you’ll wish he wasn’t.