MARK ADAMS AT THE MOVIES: PHANTOM PRESENTS

Category: Phantom of the Opera Reviews | Posted by: admin
Article Date: December 5, 2004 | Publication: Sunday Mirror | Author: MARK ADAMS
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THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (12A)

THE STARS: Minnie Driver, Miranda Richardson, Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Ellison.

THE STORY: When a temperamental diva (Driver) walks out in the middle of the dress rehearsal for a new production at the Paris opera house, the new managers have no choice but to thrust her understudy Christine (Rossum) into the spotlight. She gives a mesmerising performance, but no-one knows that her mysterious inspiration - who she calls her Angel of Music - is in fact the Phantom (Butler), a disfigured musical genius who haunts the catacombs beneath the theatre. Christine finds herself courted by the theatre's wealthy patron Raoul de Chagny (Wilson) much to the anger of the Phantom, whose obsession leads to murder. A final lavish opera performance sees the obsessive love and jealousy of the Phantom lead to a clash within the catacombs, with Christine torn between the two men.

WHAT'S GOOD? This lavishly romantic big screen version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical should keep Phantom fans happy. The songs are as hummable as ever, the performances perfectly in keeping with the ornate theatrical style and the production is blessed with excellent direction from Joel Schumacher. The film also offers an enchanting performance from Rossum (who was seen recently in The Day After Tomorrow). She has a fine voice and is perfect as the wistful Christine. Butler is suitably dark and moody as the Phantom. Comedy comes from Minnie Driver's marvellously over-the-top diva and from the double act of Simon Callow and Ciaran Hinds as the theatre's new owners. Former Brookside star - and winner of reality show Hell's Kitchen - Jennifer Ellison also stars as a singer and dancer.

WHAT'S BAD? There are bound to be complaints about the lack of big names in the key lead roles (John Travolta and Antonio Banderas were among those suggested for the Phantom, and Charlotte Church was considered for Christine). The film also finds it hard to get the right pace and there is a sense that you are simply waiting for the next song much of the time. The final underground clash lacks a real emotional impact.

HOW LONG IS IT? A magical 143 mins.

FINAL VERDICT: A Christmas must.

-The world premiere is in London tomorrow, and the film opens nationwide on December 10.