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The Phantom Of The Opera: 2-Disc Special Widescreen Edition (2004)

Category: Phantom of the Opera Reviews
Article Date: May 16, 2005 | Publication: BOX OFFICE MAGAZINE | Author:
David Lawrence

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***1/2 (Audio: A, Video: A, Features: A)

Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver. Directed by Joel Schumacher. Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Joel Schumacher. Produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Released by Warner Home Video. 2004. 141 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Anamorphic, Dolby 5.1, documentary on the "Phantom" legacy, featurettes, deleted song, DVD-ROM weblink.

They rant and they rave about Andrew Lloyd Webber, they rant and they rave about Joel Schumacher. Was there any doubt that the pairing of the two in a film adaptation of Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" stage musical would make them rant all over again?

The bottom line is that if you're not a fan of "Phantom" and its music to begin with, there's nothing about the movie that's going to change that, especially with Joel Schumacher at the helm. But for those who do like it, this is a rousing, stylish and surprisingly cinematic expansion upon the successful stage production. Gerard Butler makes for a stalwart, scary and impressively manly Phantom while Emmy Rossum finally gets a chance to unleash her opera-trained pipes as Christine, a part for which her seraphic looks seem to have been custom-tailored. And Schumacher being Schumacher, it's all been saturated with as much production value and flashy camerawork as both of his "Batman" films. Throw in great supporting turns by Minnie Driver, Patrick Wilson and Miranda Richardson and the result is... a film that will thrill fans and nauseate detractors.

Appreciating the divergent opinions, Warner has released the film in two different versions -- a bare-bones, no-extras disc that looks to sate the curious and mostly fill a rental niche, and then the deluxe double-disc edition which, despite the lack of a commentary, does have some appealing supplements in the form of a "Behind the Mask" documentary about the whole history of "Phantom," from its literary roots through the various film versions, as well as three featurettes specifically about the making of this enormous, challenging picture. All of them are fairly fluffy -- geared to be more promotional than deeply informative -- but as this edition seems geared mainly to fans, that's understandable and acceptable. Also featured is a so-so deleted song, "No One Would Listen," and a DVD-ROM portion with weblink.

Quality, as one might expect, is stellar with rich, rapturous audio throughout and resonant imagery that fully does justice to cinematographer John Mathieson's excellent visuals.


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