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Phantom of the Opera (2004 movie)

Joel Schumacher's 2004 film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

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The Phantom of the Opera

  • May 2, 2011
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The Phantom of the Opera is a movie very dear to me and I have been a valiant defender of it ever since I first saw the critics consensus. I absolutely adore this movie and if you don't judge the movie based on character or dialogue, then you will as well. I have chosen to embrace this film for the sheer spectacle and grandeur of it all and in my opinion, that is probably the best way to go. The acting is okay, and the story and dialogue were kind of lacking. But screw it, this is the one instance where I don't give a crap. The art direction in this film is absolutely stunning and the songs/singing are absolutely divine, and that's exactly what I love about this movie.

Plus, this is the only movie that I have ever sobbed at. I mean really sobbed. I've learned to hold it back now but you should have seen me when I first saw it and even the second time I saw it, I was weeping like mad. As a matter of fact, I'm trying not to right now. Anyway, enough about my habit of only crying at this movie, let's get to the story. For those of you who don't know, Phantom of the Opera is told in flashback from the perspective of Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny when he is an old man in a wheelchair. He goes with his nurses to an auction at the now-deserted Opera Populaire and he purchases a monkey music box. The repaired chandelier is revealed and we are transported into the past at the height of the Opera Populaire's...well...popularity. The story then centres on the young ingenue Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum) who replaces the aging soprano Carlotta, and the Phantom (her longtime unseen tutor played by Gerard Butler) cannot hide his affections for her anymore.

He takes Christine down to his lair in the catacombs of the opera house and she soon grows fond of her teacher. That is until he kills a stagehand and she takes solace in the arms of her childhood sweetheart Raoul (AKA the Vicomte). After a scene on the roof of the opera house where Christine and Raoul confess their feelings for one another, the phantom takes that as an act of war and at the masked ball, gives the opera managers the opera he wrote. After another warlike act at Christine's father's grave, the Opera Populaire decides to perform the Phantom's play to trap him. This all culminates in the final scene in the Phantom's lair and Christine must finally make a decision.

The story is mostly told through the songs, and honestly has very little dialogue outside the opening. The dialogue, admittedly, is pretty bad, but again, this is the only movie where I don't care. The acting is passable, so I'll go by actor and describe exactly what they did right and wrong, saving Gerard Butler for last because I have the most to talk about with him. Emmy Rossum played Christine, and her acting was passable, even acceptable. She is very pretty, and she's a terrific singer, but her acting was only okay. Patrick Wilson was Raoul, and he's a trained singer, one of the few in the movie. That definitely shows, as he is the best male singer in the movie and a decent actor. Plus, I cared for his character and I wanted to see him get Christine. The other supporting roles like the managers, Madame Giry, and Meg were decently acted as well. The only other supporting performance I feel the need to mention is Minnie Driver as Carlotta, the opera diva who Christine replaces. Minnie Driver is terrific in this role, probably the best acted role in the movie, just because she was so over the top. Her Italian accent was note-perfect and Margaret Price (AKA the singing voice of the Reverend Mother in Sound of Music)'s voice coming out of her mouth sounded like Minnie was actually singing, even though she wasn't.

Now, onto the Phantom of the Opera himself, played by Gerard Butler. While Lon Chaney's Phantom was much more grotesque and scary, Gerard's Phantom was much more sexy because the normal half of his face is so easy on the eyes and the abnormal half of his face isn't that bad, more like a bad skin condition than a serious disfigurement. This movie could have been damn extraordinary if they had a proper Phantom, but they didn't and it was only great. I have no idea what madness Joel Schumacher was experiencing when he decided to cast Gerard Butler as the Phantom. Probably the same madness that caused Batman and Robin to be created, but I digress. Now don't get me wrong, Gerard wasn't terrible. In fact, for an untrained singer, he was actually quite good. However, this is the Phantom of the Opera, you need a trained singer to play the Phantom. I had heard that Hugh Jackman was in talks for the role, and he would have been perfect for the role. He's a trained singer, he has the charisma, and he can also sing a hell of a lot better than Butler. Again, Butler wasn't terrible, but I'll just chalk it up to a poor casting choice. So all in all, passable acting.

Where the movie really shines is its songs. If you aren't interested in the movie, then I would at least recommend the soundtrack because it is absolutely phenomenal. My personal favourite is that epic Phantom of the Opera theme, but every song is spectacular. The other strength of the movie is the sheer spectacle and grandeur. The art direction is exquisite and the costume design is wonderful. You really get the lavish feel of the opera and the movie is splendid for it. Seriously, this movie has some of the best art direction and costume design I have ever seen. I don't really have much else to say though, so I'm going to wrap this up.

What can I say? The Phantom of the Opera is just a decent film if you choose to analyze it by acting, dialogue, and characters. However, if you throw all that away and just embrace the scale of spectacle and grandeur, which I would suggest you do if you want to look at this film, you will find this very wonderful and absolutely beautiful. So all in all, this comes with my high recommendation as one of my favourite movies of all time.

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More Phantom of the Opera (2004 mov... reviews
review by . December 12, 2010
Stephanie's Favourite Movies: The Phantom of the Opera      I dislike Joel Schumacher as a director, mainly because he ruined Batman. However, I liked his grandiose, spectacular take on the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's popular musical, The Phantom of the Opera.      I don't get all the critical hate for this movie, it's incredibly well done and is plenty romantic. This is also one of two movies that I have cried at in my young …
review by . December 27, 2011
It is the 1870s, and living beneath a Paris opera house is a mad, disfigured, musical genius known as the Phantom (Gerard Butler). He has been secretly tutoring Christine (Emmy Rossum), an orphaned chorus girl, and arranges for her to replace the unpopular leading lady. Christine is grateful, but when she rekindles her childhood romance with the Opera's patron (Patrick Wilson), the Phantom is outraged and declares war on the couple.      I love the magnificent musical …
review by . July 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Music of the Night
I have seen two play versions of this wonderful Andrew Loyd Weber's masterpiece. The first was back when I was in high school and I saw it in LA. It captured my heart as a beautiful story with exceptional music. I still have the original program too preserved as a wonderful memory. I bought the soundtrack and learned all the words to all the songs. Than along comes the 2004 movie adaptation starring Gerard Butler as the Phantom and Emmy Rossum as Christine and while I saw how beautiful she …
review by . July 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
 To my amazement, this musical was repackaged for film as a stunning piece that I watched over and over again. I've seen the actual musical in New York, with chandelier swinging right overhead, and never thought anyone could put this to screen effectively especially after experiencing it so up close and personal. The disfigured musical genius who's only way of communicating his wishes is through fearful and mysterious "happenings" at the Opera House is excused somewhat in …
review by . December 23, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler
Personally, I've never been a big fan of movie musicals, though there have been a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Joel Schumacher's marvelous film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. The lavish production perfectly captures the excitement of the stage, while cleverly exploiting the cinematic medium for maximum impact. The film showcases impressive costumes, awesome sets, and an unexpectedly terrific cast, which reenergizes the music with a youthful vitality that …
Quick Tip by . July 17, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
To my amazement, this musical was repackaged for film as a stunning piece that I watched over and over again. I've seen the actual musical in New York, with chandelier swinging right overhead, and never thought anyone could put this to screen effectively especially after experiencing it so up close and personal. The disfigured musical genius who's only way of communicating his wishes is through fearful and mysterious "happenings" at the Opera House is excused somewhat in most of our minds after …
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Visually stunning movie with strong performances. Gerard Butler showed his acting range by playing a more dramatic character than he is known now for playing.
Quick Tip by . August 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Great music, great cast, just great. And could the chemistry between Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler have been any hotter? I don't think so!!!
review by . July 29, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
(3.5) Going into a musical, one expects to open one's senses. Andrew Lloyd Webber, not quite at the height of his powers, gives us a few reasons to celebrate his musical brought to the screen in Joel Schumacher's rendition of `Phantom of the Opera'.     There are two main interlocking stories, and while they give one another meaning, they sometimes are conflicting to the musical's spirit. In front of the stage, Andre (Simon Cowell) has acquired the Paris Opera House. He must …
review by . February 27, 2006
Occasionally, a film is so bad that it rightfully deserves to be panned by audiences and critics alike. At other times, an incredibly well made film is poorly received, a fact that is both shocking and dismaying. Joel Schumacher's "The Phantom of the Opera" falls into the second category. This movie is, in a word, incredible. It's a pure sight and sound musical fantasy, grandiose in scope and delightfully over the top in drama and romance. Rarely have I found myself completely absorbed in a film; …
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About this movie


Although it's not as bold as Oscar darling Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera continues the resuscitation of the movie musical with a faithful adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's blockbuster stage musical. Emmy Rossum glows in a breakout role as opera ingénue Christine Daae, and if phantom Gerard Butler isn't Rossum's match vocally, he does convey menace and sensuality in such numbers as "The Music of the Night." The most experienced musical theater veteran in the cast, romantic lead Patrick Wilson, sings sweetly but seems wooden. The biggest name in the cast, Minnie Driver, hams it up as diva Carlotta, and she's the only principal whose voice was dubbed (though she does sing the closing-credit number, "Learn to Be Lonely," which is also the only new song).

Director Joel Schumacher, no stranger to visual spectacle, seems to have found a good match in Lloyd Webber's larger-than-life vision of Gaston LeRoux's Gothic horror-romance. His weakness is cuing too many audience-reaction shots and showing too much of the lurking Phantom, but when he calms down and lets Rossum sings "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" alone in a silent graveyard, it's exquisite.

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Director: Joel Schumacher
Genre: Drama, Musical, Romance
Release Date: December 22, 2004
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Runtime: 2hrs 23min
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
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