Published Dec 01, 2004It was bound to happen sooner or later. Since the resurgence of the movie musical began a few years back, we have witnessed a trio of innovative and exceptional films (Dancer in the Dark, Moulin Rouge, Chicago) that breathed new life into one of cinema's oldest genres. But leave it to Joel Schumacher (whose resume includes destroying the Batman franchise) to break the trend with Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera.
Still playing on Broadway, Phantom is the well-known tale of the disfigured, bitter "musical genius" who lives beneath the Paris Opera House. When the young chanteuse he has been secretly tutoring, Christine (Emmy Rossum), is given the chance to play the lead role, the Phantom (Gerard Butler) starts wreaking havoc on the opera house and its employees to ensure his beloved pupil gets the attention she deserves. But his intentions seem to go beyond Christine's success, as it becomes clear that he has a bit of an obsessive crush.
The musical Phantom has always been slightly overrated a few of the songs are uninspired and the themes often feel underdeveloped. However, there is a lot of great material to work with and Schumacher tries really hard to make it happen: the sets and costumes are meticulous and radiant; and the actors (especially relative newcomer Rossum) are all wonderfully cast and nail most of the songs. But, when it is all said and done, there is simply something missing.
If you've seen the stage musical, there is really no point in viewing the film, as there is little difference. The point of a cinematic adaptation is to take the work to the next level. But it just doesn't seem like Schumacher's got the imagination to make it happen. (Warner Brothers)