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The Phantom of the Opera (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 7, 2023


Starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Ciarán Hinds, Simon Callow, Victor McGuire, Jennifer Ellison, Murray Melvin, Kevin McNally, James Fleet, Imogen Bain, Miles Western, Judith Paris, Halcro Johnston, Paul Brooke and Amy Lawson.

Screenplay by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Joel Schumacher.

Directed by Joel Schumacher.

Distributed by Warner Brothers Pictures. 143 minutes. Rated PG-13.

The story of The Phantom of the Opera has been around for ages, first brought to the silver screen in the 1920's by Lon Chaney, Sr.'s quintessential interpretation of the disfigured and dysfunctional musical genius. Since Chaney's spellbinding role, the legacy of The Phantom of the Opera has grown immeasurably through the years, thanks in no small part to Andrew Lloyd Webber's spectacularly conceived stage musical.

Directed by Joel Schumacher, the 2004 film version of the play was released with little fanfare and minimal critic buzz. Upon viewing of the newly released DVD, the film is nowhere near the disaster claimed by some critics and deserves a second look. The story, if any of you don't know it already, centers upon the Phantom's unhealthy infatuation with aspiring soprano opera singer, Christine. He does all in his power to ensure that the love of his life achieves stardom. Living underneath the dusty catacombs of the Paris Opera House, The Phantom lords over this place of music and mirth. Yet soon enough, The Phantom's romantic obsession becomes unhealthy and before too long his ravenous rage is overwhelming. In a battle with the handsome Raoul to win the affections of Christine, The Phantom emerges with enough evil vengeance and murderous intent to make Charlie Manson take cover. He aims to win over Christine at any cost. Visually, the film is stunning. The evocative set pieces and period costuming in particular are gloriously opulent and beautiful and Andrew Lloyd Webber's score really soars. Really, this admittedly dyed-in-the-wool rock-and-roll fan walked away with many of the song's hooks embedded in his memory. Most impressive is the manner in which director Schumacher allows for the seamless scene transition of the past moving from black and white to the glorious Technicolor of today. The climactic scene between The Phantom, Christine and Raoul in the watery canals underneath the Paris Opera Opera House keeps you on the edge of your seat, a masterful juxtaposition of eerie lighting, strong dialogue, and dramatic suspense. While the pacing of the film suffers in parts, (at two hours and twenty three minutes, it's thirty minutes too long) and Minnie Driver's overacting can grate, The Phantom of the Opera succeeds as a solid distillation of moving music, action, suspense, and romance. Emmy Rossum (Mystic River/The Day After Tomorrow), who portrays the beautiful Christine delivers a finely restrained performance, equal amounts of pathos and purity. Gerard Butler as The Phantom, best known for roles in Tomorrow Never Dies and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle Of Life, impresses most, not only with his over-the top maniacal edge but with the subtle romantic longing he displays for Christine. The Phantom of the Opera might not be for everybody (it most definitely fits the category of "chick flick") but there's enough gripping drama and suspense for moviegoers thrilled with "The Music Of The Night" to walk away wholly satisfied. (12/04)

Ken Sharp

Copyright ©2005 All rights reserved. Posted: April 18, 2005.


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