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Lavish Sets and Luscious Voices

Category: Phantom of the Opera Reviews
Article Date: December 23, 2004 | Publication: About.Com - Hollywood Movies Guide | Author: Rebecca Murray

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The movie version of "The Phantom of the Opera" stirred up a whirlwind of discussion with the casting of Gerard Butler ("Dracula 2000") as the Phantom. Fans of the play wanted Michael Crawford to carry on with the role, however director Joel Schumacher and Andrew Lloyd Webber thought they'd take it another direction. Did they make the right choice?

What does the movie version of “The Phantom of the Opera” prove? It proves we need more movie musicals. “Moulin Rouge” was spectacular, “Chicago” was a real killer, and “The Phantom of the Opera” steals your heart.
Enough with the bad remakes of action movies we didn’t care about in the first place. Let’s see more musicals with entrancing and entertaining stories populated by talented, engaging actors. I’d pledge to boycott movies until this happens, but I think I'd be doing battle against an unslayable dragon. Studios make money with dumb action movies, and musicals are harder to market. So which type of project will get the go-ahead? The action movies that bring in the bucks along with the goofball comedies that appeal to younger audiences.
Those types of movies will continue to be pumped out on a steady basis, while musicals will continue to be made only once in a blue moon.
Told in flashback, “The Phantom of the Opera” is set in 1870 at the Paris Opera House. The beautiful, young chorus girl, Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum), steps into the spotlight after the opera’s spoiled diva, Carlotta (Minnie Driver), quits the production. Christine’s been tutored by a mysterious ‘Angel of Music’ for years. Her unseen teacher has taught her well and she sings like well, an angel, impressing the theatre’s new managers enough to allow her to become their new leading lady.

While the naďve Christine believes her gentle tutor is the spirit of her father, her adopted mother (the ballet’s mistress) knows the truth. Christine’s teacher is really the disfigured Phantom (Gerard Butler) who haunts the Opera House. A musical genius who’s gone mad, the Phantom has lovingly overseen Christine’s development. As she gets her opportunity to shine onstage, the Phantom’s affection and hold over the young woman is in jeopardy when the wealthy young stud, Raoul (Patrick Wilson), falls for the burgeoning beauty.

The credits rolled, the lights came up, and I still didn’t budge. I wanted to sit through “The Phantom of the Opera” one more time, but the theater wouldn’t have it. Damn their schedules. The only movie that sent shivers down my spine this year, “Phantom,” for lack of a better description, rocked my world. The easiest way to describe this production of “The Phantom of the Opera” would be to open the Thesaurus and look up synonyms for exquisite and gorgeous. Insert your favorite choice of word here and it’ll sum up the world created onscreen in this stunning collaboration between director Joel Schumacher and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Fans of the stage play should take heart in knowing Webber personally selected Schumacher as the director, with the two working hand in hand (figuratively speaking) on this film. A project that’s been over 15 years in the making, Webber first approached Schumacher about directing a “Phantom” film back in 1988. Discussing the project off and on since then, the two finally got serious in 2002 and the rest, as they say, is history.

The movie’s dazzling to look at but it’s the acting and singing that held me spellbound. Emmy Rossum’s ethereal beauty and spectacular singing voice are a perfect fit for the role of Christine. Actress and part fit hand in glove. Rossum has trained at the Metropolitan Opera since the age of seven and it feels as though she was born to play this role.

Patrick Wilson, an Emmy nominee and star of Broadway’s “Oklahoma!” and “The Full Monty,” has that swashbuckling, romantic flair needed to fill the role of the Phantom’s enemy while capturing his own share of hearts. As Raoul, Wilson’s looks and pure tenor voice are sure to send fans scurrying around the Internet for more news on this handsome hunk.

Gerard Butler wasn’t the obvious choice to play the Phantom. But Butler’s so raw, so seething with sensuality and has that bad-boy rock star quality, that the fact his voice isn’t quite as commanding at the beginning of the film isn’t as big a distraction as it could have been. I stand by my description of Butler as sexier-than-should-be-legal. I know quite a few women who’d love to be locked away in a dungeon with this Phantom.

A passionate, dazzling, emotionally moving love story set amidst lavish backgrounds, “The Phantom of the Opera” is as delicious to look at as it is to listen to. Joel Schumacher went the distance for this production, and the care he took in bringing a beloved stage play to the screen shows in every frame of the film.


"Phantom of the Opera" was directed by Joel Schumacher and is rated PG-13 for brief violent images.


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