Phantom Review

Category: Phantom of the Opera Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: September 30, 2004 | Publication: Ain't It Cool News | Author: Review
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On Tuesday night I was lucky enough to attend a free advance screening of the soon-to-be-released "Phantom of the Opera" in Denver, Colorado; supposedly we were the first audience in the world to see it. Like I haven't heard that one before; "You're the only one, I swear!" But I digress.

I'm not a huge fan of the Broadway show. I like it, I enjoyed it when it came to town, but I'm not a mega-fan. But I loved the movie.

It stays remarkably close to the stage version. Anyone who has seen it live knows that the overture is one of the most electrifying moments of the night, and I was a little worried as to how that would translate to the screen. I had nothing to worry about: It's every bit as thrilling on screen as it is on stage.

The prologue takes place in the 1920s, after the Paris Opera House's heyday, and it is shot in grainy black-and-white. When the chandelier is lit and starts to rise, the overture blares over the speakers and the screen comes alive with color as the Opera House is restored to the beauty and opulence of its glory days. All the trappings of the live show are there: The boat ride to the Phantom's lair, the candles that rise from the water, Christine's trip through the looking glass.

Fans of the musical won't be disappointed. With the exception of one brief number ("Notes #2", which I didn't miss at all), every song remains intact, and the score is every bit as lush as the original London cast recording. There have been rumors floating around that Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted the score to be more classical and got rid of the techno-synth sounds that make it so distinctive. Well, it's not true. The techno-synth is here to stay! One new song, "No One Would Listen," was not in our screening, but they could put it back in later. I didn't even know there was a new song until I started talking to people.

Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum are excellent as the Phantom and Christine. They beat the living hell out of Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Butler never gets whiny, as so many Phantoms have, and he performs his songs with an almost primal growl in his voice. Plus, he's damn hot. DAMN hot. Rossum has a beautiful, clear soprano, and absolutely no nasally head notes (Ms. Brightman could take a lesson from this kid). As Raoul, Christine's love interest, Patrick Wilson does a good job in what is pretty much a fluff role, and has a great voice. He also duels with Butler in a seriously awesome swordfight. Of all the actors, I was least impressed with Minnie Driver, playing resident diva Carlotta Giudicelli. She was over the top, but it's how the role is supposed to be played, I guess. I just didn't really like it.

PIcking a favorite scene is like eating one cookie: It's impossible. But one of my absolute favorites was "Past The Point Of No Return," when the Phantom seduces Christine onstage during his opera. It's a tango-like number, and so hot you can practically hear sizzling coming from the screen. Listening to it, you're sorely tempted to rip your clothes off and find a makeout partner as soon as humanly possible.

The only number that I thought fell flat was "Masquerade," a highlight of the stage production. The stage version has the ensemble dressed in wildly imaginative and colorful costumes, while the film's version costumes most of the revelers in black and white, letting only the principals wear the really astounding costumes.

If you're fan of the musical, you'll love it. If you liked such movie musicals as "Chicago" and "Moulin Rouge," you'll enjoy this. Even if you're not a musical fan, I'd recommend it. A friend I went with who hates musicals said, "It was all right." From him, that is glowing praise for a musical. As for me, I simply can't wait until December to see it again.