The Sixth Estate
Monday, December 20, 2004
QUOTE OF THE DAY : "Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word." - Charles de Gaulle

SONG OF THE DAY : Del Tha Funkee Homosapien - Dr. Bombay

LINK OF THE DAY : Stephen Taylor : Pundit Extraordinaire

But, alack,
That monster envy, oft the wrack
Of earned praise.

The Phantom of the Opera
7/10 STARS

"There is a hideous freak behind you Christine!"

Film musicals have enjoyed a resurgence in recent years, the success of 2002's Chicago is largely responsible for the renewed interest in the genre. The Phantom of the Opera is director Joel Schumacher's adaptation of Andrew Llyod Webber's hugely successful stage production of the same name. In this classic tale, the Paris Opera House is being haunted by a disfigured, musical genius known only as the Phantom(Gerard Butler). Christine Daae(Emmy Rossum) is a young chorus girl at the Opera House, who has been learning to sing under the tutelage of the Phantom. He secretly loves Christine, but his disfigurement prevents him from revealing himself to her. Much to the chagrin of the Phantom, the Opera's patron Raoul begins making romantic overtures towards Christine. The Phantom begins terrorizing the Opera House demanding that Christine be given bigger and bigger roles in the opera productions. When the Opera house does not concede to his demands, the Phantom steals Christine away to his lair in the sewers beneath the Opera House, with Raoul in hot pursuit.

I can only recommend The Phantom of the Opera to fans of the original musical, or fans of musicals in general. That being said the film is excellent at what it is. It retains all of the music and spectacle of the original stage production, while adding all the bells and whistles that a movie adaptation entails. The film is beautiful to look at, and it was obvious that a lot of care and effort went into the production. The chandelier scene alone is worth the price of admission. Performance-wise most of the cast was great. Emmy Rossum, (Who apparently can sing.) is beautiful as Christine, and shines in the role. The stand out performance was given by Gerard Butler as the Phantom. While his singing voice is not ideal for the role, Butler gives a great all-around performance, as a tortured genius who just wants to be loved.

The film is long, nearly two and a half hours. Though it has excellent pacing in certain scenes, it really dragged in parts. It is a difficult task adapting a musical for the big screen, there are some things that work on stage, that don't necessarily work all that well on film, in particular the sewer scenes, and the phantom's lair. The singing seemed to begin very randomly in parts, and actually felt out of place in a few scenes. The cast overall was fairly solid, but there were a few wooden performances. Schumacher seems swept up in the vision of the film, but does not pay enough attention to the end result.

I'm no fan of musicals, but The Phantom of the Opera is an exception for me. The choice of director had me worried at first. I honestly didn't know what to expect from this movie, but Joel "I Ruined Batman" Schumacher came through this time. The Phantom of the Opera is quite enjoyable and incredibly well presented. However the length of the film, combined with the fact that it is a musical will limit it's appeal.

- Will


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