Andrew Lloyd Webbers The Phantom of the Opera
The worlds biggest musical!
Running Time: 143 minutes
US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12a
Country: United Kingdom, United States
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. Thats 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, Im 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 isnt 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 its the ghost of her dead Popsy whos 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, Christines dashing beau Raoul (Patrick Wilson) isnt best chuffed when he hears whats 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. Hes 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 films plodded to a halt, theres not a character or viewer who doesnt know it.
Still, at least Phants keeps himself busy. For one thing, he makes all of his own masks. And hes 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, hes kind of restricted in what stories he chooses to adapt. I mean, after Don Juan theres The Lone Ranger, and then maybe Batman, but thats really about it.
You may well have already guessed that Im not going to recommend The Phantom of the Opera. I still dont 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 actings wooden (particularly on Rossums 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 Phantoms mask off! Jeez woman, doesnt the fact that hes wearing the thing in the first place tell you that he might be a little touchy about it? Its no wonder the poor fellah chucks a wobbler every time she does it.
Alternatives: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, youll wish he wasnt.