Ever since "Moulin Rouge," musicals have been popular again, peaking with Oscar-winning "Chicago." That being said, it was only a matter of time before one of the best known musicals, "The Phantom of the Opera," made it to theaters. Unfortunately, the short streak of fabulous musicals had to come to an end at some point. Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" is a good but ultimately inconsistent movie that excels only half the time.
Directed by Joel Schumacher, "The Phantom of the Opera," about a disfigured man who terrorizes an opera to help the career of a young and beautiful protégé, is a beautiful film with good performances and vibrant music, but doesn't quite dazzle from beginning to end. The movie lacks a perfect transition from stage to screen, suffering from a few drawn out parts and a couple mildly cheesy moments that would be acceptable in a play, but are not in a big screen production. More than anything else, a little more imagination by Schumacher might have made this film the spectacle it is meant to be.
That being said, there are a lot of positives about the movie. Having never seen the stage production, and thus knowing very little about the details of the story, I enjoyed the stories and the characters within. Beautiful Emmy Rossum, who had her breakout year with this movie and "The Day After Tomorrow," is impressive as Christine, while Gerard Butler is good as The Phantom. Neither actor should garner award nominations, but they are good.
Though Schumacher failed to smooth out the edges in the translation of the story to film, he should be commended for the overall look of the film, which, to be direct, looks stunning. Grandiose and vibrant, "The Phantom of the Opera" is full of great sets, wonderful costumes and spectacular visuals. In other words, it gets the visual treatment a classic like this deserves.
In the end, "The Phantom of the Opera" is inconsistently good. At times, the movie and the music draws you in and you become lost, but at other times it drags and the mind wanders. Ranging in at two hours and twenty minutes, a few of the scenes seem only to reiterate the same things over and over again.
"The Phantom of the Opera" is a fine and visually impressive film, but it isn't as good as I was hoping it to be. At times it exceeds expectations, but at other times, it doesn't quite hit the right note.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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