Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

I'm not much of a musical man. In order to get me interested in a musical, the movie must have some kind of special flair going on, something other than cheesy songs and dance numbers.

Moulin Rouge not only has a great collection of songs, but the actors are actually singing them and it's a visually dazzling experience. Grease is another I enjoy mainly due to all the dirty humor that can be found hidden within the songs.

Then comes Phantom of the Opera, which is based off the long running Broadway musical. Joel Schumacher (who has directed awesome flicks like The Lost Boys, Phone Booth and Falling Down, as well as complete crap like Batman & Robin, Bad Company and Flawless) was given the task to direct the film, and after seeing his flair for sets, costumes and visual excess in other flicks, he seemed like the perfect choice for this film. For the most part he is the perfect choice... when it comes to the costumes and sets. They are breathtaking. I must really commend the crew for making this film look as amazing as it does.
The main cast is good as well. 18 year old Emmy Rossum (Jake Gyllenhaal's girlfriend in The Day After Tomorrow) owns this film as Christine, the object of the Phantom's affections. She shows charisma, a beautiful singing voice and damn if she isn't hot! Gerard Butler (Dracula 2000) is awesome as well as the title creature. He plays the seductive hermit and crazed, murderous lunatic portions of his character admirably, and he can sing as well. The rest of the cast is a mixed bag. While supporting characters played by Miranda Richardson and Minnie Driver are very good, the main love interest for Christine, Raoul (Patrick Wilson) is a complete bore. Take Keanu Reeves in Johnny Mnemonic and amplify it by 100 and you have an understanding for this untalented actor's performance in the film. He ruins nearly every scene he's in and he's in a LOT of the film. He shares no chemistry with Rossum and at one point I was hoping the Phantom would kill him just to rid us of him once and for all.
But the main fault this movie has are its underwhelming musical numbers. I'm not complaining about the songs (even though most of them are sung so fast while the background music is blaring so it drowns out the lyrics), most of them are quite well written ("Music of the Night" and "Point of No Return", as well as the title song), but it's the way that the song and dance scenes are shot that's crap. They are so boring and drawn out that I found myself falling asleep a couple of times. There are no flashy camera moves to accentuate a rise in the music or interesting lighting to go along with the mood of the song. It's just a standard, straightforward approach that is quite a disappointment after seeing how overboard Schumacher went with Batman & Robin when it came to his visual choices. You'd think this would be the ideal opportunity to show off some of his crazy genius. Nope, I felt like I was watching a filmed version of the stage play and nothing more. The film should have been grander and more epic. All we get is three friggin’ camera angles for each song and that's it.

It's a not a horrible movie, but I (as well as my brother) felt that it could have been so much more. A true disappointment.

2 of 5

*written 12/25/04

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