The Phantom of the Opera-2004
Director Joel Schumacher
Starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson
Scott’s Review #1,336
Reviewed January 23, 2023
Having been fortunate enough to see the legendary Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera makes any film version impossible to usurp compared to the live stage show.
The lights, the sets, the booming music, the dreaded chandelier, and presumably phenomenal acting all make for an unforgettable experience.
Since we are talking film, the cinematic version of The Phantom of the Opera (2004) is breathtaking and nearly twenty years late to the game, I should be scolded for having not seen it earlier like when it was initially released.
It’s based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the 1910 French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux.
Critics were not kind to the film though most audiences liked it so I almost didn’t see it save for my hubby renting it and encouraging us to watch it.
I am glad I did because this film encompasses a feast of riches.
I wonder aloud if the fact that it was directed by Joel Schumacher who created the dreadfully bad Batman & Robin, made seven years earlier in 1997 influenced bad reviews. After all, nobody likes their superhero movies butchered and payback’s a bitch after all.
For the novice fan, the summary is as follows. Gerard Butler stars as the disfigured, reclusive Phantom who roams beneath the Paris Opera and takes budding star Christine (Emmy Rossum) under his wing.
But as he falls for her, she finds love with handsome and porcelain-like Raoul, played by Patrick Wilson, leaving the Phantom none too pleased.
If nothing else, and there is something else, the film is a spectacle. Gorgeous Parisian sophistication drips from the screen in nearly every scene from the gloomy catacombs to the enthralling opera stage.
The costumes reek of French style, glamour, and texture, and the principle cast is easy on the eyes, to say the least.
These treats are merely a warmup to the astounding and professional art direction, making the winter sequences dreamlike and gothic, capturing the tone perfectly.
This encapsulates the dire story sequence and aids in the viewer feeling the pain of the Phantom.
The all-too-familiar numbers are modernized in just the right places especially “The Music of the Night” which could have been played on popular radio stations. The lively “Masquerade” parlays into the lovely “The Phantom of the Opera” duet between the Phantom and Christine in his ugly lair.
I didn’t feel the chemistry between Rossum and Wilson the same way I did between Butler and Rossum and maybe that’s the point. Wilson doesn’t have much to work with since the character isn’t the main attraction.
I never wanted Christine to ride off into the unknown with Raoul but ached for the pain that the Phantom felt for Christine’s kindness.
As much as I like Wilson the actor I champion the casting of Rossum (unknown at this time) and Butler who is the top draw in the talent department.
His loud and colorful musical numbers enrapture me as a viewer and grip me with his pain. The passion and magnificence are on full display. Butler is my favorite actor.
Minnie Driver is perfect as the spoiled diva, and the supporting cast, including veteran Simon Callow, gives the cast further credibility.
I was transported to another world while watching The Phantom of the Opera (2004) by the sheer extravagance of what was on the screen. Schumacher more than deserves top accolades and respect for his production.
Oscar Nominations: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Original Song-“Learn To Be Lonely”