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Overall Rating
3.24

Awesome42.49%
Worth A Look: 9.01%
Average: 4.72%
Pretty Bad: 17.17%
Total Crap: 26.61%

12 reviews, 161 user ratings


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Phantom of the Opera, The (2004)
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by Scott Weinberg

"Could do for modern movie musicals what XANADU did for the old ones."
1 stars

See, here's the problem: this movie was made exclusively for those who already love, adore and fetishize the stage play on which it is based. It's made to jog the memory of those who (somehow) remember Andrew Lloyd Webber's leaden chords with some fondness and to hopefully coax those people into buying a whole new soundtrack CD. Actually, "The Phantom of the Opera" feels like little more than a 2+ hour promotional video for perfume, jewelry, corsets and curtains. It's lead-footed, empty-headed and tone-deaf. Were it not for the superlative work from the various set designers and costumers, this would be the "Battlefield Earth" of modern movie musicals.

Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way first: I harbor no ill-will or animosity towards director Joel Schumacher. Huge handfuls of passionate movie fans still want Joe's head on a pike for Batman & Robin. I say grow up already, kids. Say what you like about Schumacher, but the guy's had a pretty eclectic career for the last 20-some years, and for every massive misstep like Batman & Robin or Bad Company, the director has made amends with titles like Falling Down, Phone Booth, and Tigerland.

But there's just no getting around it: Schumacher's latest, the endlessly lumbering and consistently yawn-worthy Phantom of the Opera, is a big, expensive turkey. Knowing very little about the whole Phantom phenomenon before the cinema lights went down, I was quite optimistic about the movie. I consider myself a fan of musicals, and surely something this universally adored could entertain me as well.

The film opens as the play does: with a black and white setting, which immediately tells us two things: that this movie is a Flashback Tale, and that most of us hate the Flashback gimmick. But then comes something pretty slick: the color slams onto the screen and the music kicks up and there's a real richness and joyous theatricality to what's onscreen. I was enthused.

It lasted about 45 seconds. First off, I just couldn't stand the music. So if the original Broadway score to Phantom of the Opera is one of your most cherished desert island discs, then please feel free to dismiss my complaints as some "guy" who just didn't get "it." I will contend that there's more art, heart, pulse and passion in five random minutes of Moulin Rouge then there is in the whole of The Phantom of the Opera's virtually endless behemoth.

You all know the story by now, I'm sure. But here it is again: imagine a not very unique variation on the tired old "Beauty and the Beast" premise...in a sumptuous opera house. Our romantic lead/deformed villain has the hots for Christine, who is a perfectly sculpted little singing ingenue who looks great in a corset and has the personality of a porcelain vase. The hideous phantom, forever clad in a plastic mask that covers perhaps 20% of his face and looks like something straight out of Star Trek, is forever kidnapping, cajoling, whining and begging young Chrissy to join him in the underground catacombs, where they will both sing to each other about loss and love and yearning and the omnipresent angst of subterranean facial deformities. Of course a handsome, non-deformed gentleman starts sniffing around, and of course there's a stunningly obnoxious diva-star who's just about begging for a chandelier to the forehead. There are theater managers and stage directors and random blonde beauties boasting curvy hips and tone-deaf lips.

There's one noteworthy spark of life, and it goes by the name of Minnie Driver. As the ever-coddled and stunningly spoiled Carlotta, Ms. Driver brings a big bag of over-emphasized accents, surly sneers and cartoonish eye-rollings. She's an all-too-brief moment of color in a bog of gothic colors and florid whimpers. Leads Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum are given nothing to do with their characters; they exist solely as jukeboxes in tights. There's no heart or soul behind these characters, and no amount of 12-minute ballads can change the fact that we're watching life-size dolls bellowing Hallmark Card sentiments at one another.

Frankly I even found the movie a little bit insulting: it never even tries to embrace the uninitiated members of the audience. Imagine if Spider-Man began with no backstory, no origin of Parker's superpowers. It just plopped you right into the middle of a battle between a human spider and a green mutant on a sled. The neophytes would feel left out and lost; the Spidey freaks would feel cheated and angry. That would be some pretty sloppy filmmaking, and that's precisely what's up with The Phantom of the Opera: it exists only to be admired by those who already admire it. But what works on a theater stage is not always going to translate easily to the big screen, and I suspect that, as far as this adaptation's screenplay is concerned, Schumacher didn't even try.

The idea of molding this airy, obvious mass into something resembling a cohesive motion picture would be a whole lot harder than just filming a dozen rock videos and stringing them together. I suspect that most Phantom fans will walk out of this movie either mildly disappointed or outright pissed. Newcomers will leave the theater drowsy, confused and awestruck with the newfound knowledge that this is what all the hoopla's been about.

You want to "adapt" this show into something fresh, unique and worthy of my ten bucks? Hire David Fincher to direct it and let Trent Reznor adapt the score. That would signify the difference between an "adaptation" and a feature-length gothic rock video with the soul of Celine Dion.

So if it's a literal adaptation of the stage play, then I'd contend that the stage play is a huge, purple bore of an evening. And if it's not a unique or compelling adaptation of the musical, then why not just stay home and listen to the CD instead? It takes a hell of a lot more than pretty curtains and glistening chandeliers to make an epic musical; this movie doesn't even come close.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11360&reviewer=128
originally posted: 12/23/04 01:55:08
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User Comments

7/19/14 fuqwyqwp USA 3 stars
10/04/12 keith miron Buy the soundtrack instead ! 2 stars
5/10/11 Stephanie One of my favorites. Beautifully done and sung. Super moving. 5 stars
8/28/09 julie Loved it! Gerard Butler is so sexy! 5 stars
1/16/09 Anonymous. beautiful singing, emmy rossum really shines :] 4 stars
11/30/08 Samantha Pruitt great music, good acting, great visuals, the end was sooo sad! 4 stars
5/07/08 Luci<3 Gerard's way of singing so gutterally and beautiful made a great asset to the Phantom. 5 stars
4/30/08 Lillyshell I have seen this movie several time, I bought the movie. It is great, Music and acting. 5 stars
3/19/08 David Cohen Over-the-top tale of a whiny, murderous extortionist, what's not to like? Everything! 2 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Remember,this comes from a man who made Jesus & cats sing in Broadway musicals.Be warned!!! 1 stars
10/15/07 fools&#9835;gold O, Webber in all his boringness and out-of-date-dness. 1 stars
9/04/07 shinn so brilliant ,awesome ,unique TO ALL: just understand the movie ,you1l see it!! OK!! 5 stars
8/28/07 Tyler Sciortino How can musically illiterate toads rave about this shiftless artifice like it's high art? 1 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss Cinematography and lighting were spectacular.Acting overly dramatic.Bursting into song-Ug! 1 stars
8/13/07 Mary Beth Loved this movie! The reviewer is an idiot. 5 stars
8/04/07 TANCP It was alright. Phantom's make up and personality were too weak though. The stage is better 4 stars
6/25/07 R.W. Welch Good yarn and score but overlong and overdone. C+ 3 stars
4/29/07 clare this is the best movie ever, all the critics reviews are stupid. 5 stars
3/10/07 swtangel great movie, excellent music. 4 stars
2/28/07 Stanley Thai One great musical but not many interesting songs. 5 stars
1/16/07 Idina Badly sung, badly acted and TERRIBLY directed. 1 stars
1/10/07 Amanda Everything about the film was outstanding! Loved Every minute of it! 5 stars
1/04/07 sargon I watched this film stoned as fuck and I still realized it was quality, surefire shit. 1 stars
11/27/06 sirina good movie though why fight over her she is so ugly! 4 stars
10/25/06 Anne Well this was my first real exposure to Phantom, and I thought it was easy to understand. 5 stars
10/03/06 Danielle It sucked! They couldn't sing! Read the book it had almost no romance. 1 stars
9/23/06 marni The only problem I had with it is the fact that Emmy Rossum dosen't sing properly. 5 stars
9/02/06 Clare Michaud I thoought that this movie was fabulous the music was unbelievable. I am a huge fan. 5 stars
8/29/06 Griselle The movie was awesome, and the actors did a stupendes job. I'm a really big fan. 5 stars
8/16/06 xxx A beautiful musical! I absoultly loved it! 5 stars
8/14/06 Addi Sad Phantom fan here- liked 2 scenes; hated the off-key singing 2 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist 1st 1/2, exquisite,2nd 1/2, not how he became the phantom;took me out of the film. 2 stars
5/29/06 Ash I found the movie as exciting as the theater shows. 5 stars
5/28/06 kay one of the greatest musicals i've ever seen 5 stars
5/19/06 drydock54321 something a romantic would love 4 stars
5/14/06 Elaine Fulford I've seen this film about 40 times now, and it still appeals to me. My 9 & 4 year olds love 5 stars
5/10/06 sweetgrrl1972 *cringe* This movie is cheesier than cheddar, except not in a good way. 1 stars
4/13/06 Susan I think it is one of my favorite movies of all time. 5 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych Pretty true to the broadway musical, but drags at times. 4 stars
3/08/06 Katie Beautiful music. Gerald Butler was a great phantom 4 stars
2/11/06 Neil Outstanding...a marvel in its own right...a lush Gothic romance based on famous novel... 5 stars
1/30/06 the laughing man One of the best films I have ever seen. 5 stars
1/13/06 Tiffany Love love love it. The movie does everything that they TRY to do on stage...great job! 5 stars
1/05/06 LRWN An unbelieveably outstanding film! 5 stars
11/13/05 Rebecca Davies It was absolutely beautiful I luved it! 5 stars
10/17/05 E jimenez Gorgeous film. The best musical movie I have ever seen. 5 stars
10/08/05 AARON CHAMBERS GERARD BUTLER IS NO MICHAEL CRAWFORD 3 stars
10/04/05 Paige Emmy is my romotel and the phantom is so hot 5 stars
10/01/05 chang great! 5 stars
9/25/05 Joan R I absolutely loved this film. Gerard Butler made a truly wonderful Phantom. 5 stars
9/18/05 Abbey this was one of the best movies have ever seen 5 stars
9/15/05 Samantha Schaeffer it fucking sucked....just kidding it was awsome 1 stars
9/13/05 ann coloma it's really great and heart-warming 5 stars
9/02/05 Alyse Pilcher the best movie EVER!!!! 5 stars
8/29/05 Emma Dunham Fantastic!! there no amount of words to explain the brilliance of this Film 5 stars
8/06/05 Karleigh I think it is the best movie in the world... I loved it 5 stars
7/16/05 montanya@bellsouth.net loved the show loved the movie more 5 stars
7/05/05 Becky Hamman Absolutely wonderful movie! I love Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson! 5 stars
6/23/05 Lucy This movie was wonderful compared to the Broadway version. Excellent acting and script 5 stars
6/19/05 Tasha EXCELLENT 5 stars
6/08/05 Callie Coulson This movie was great it was so fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
6/05/05 aryiel superb 5 stars
6/04/05 amanda carpio the new movie is an awesome movie! i enjoyed it and roul is really hot! :) and the phantom 5 stars
6/01/05 Steve Melenwick Silly critics. What did they expect for a movie version. It Satisfies. 3 stars
5/31/05 Carol Price It have been a Better movie if Gerard Butler did only act and not sing 3 stars
5/30/05 Danielle I loved it. The music, the actors, evrything was incredible 5 stars
5/29/05 Suffering Spouse Excruciatingly awful 1 stars
5/27/05 Gunit worst film ever. 1 stars
5/26/05 Jazz Main casts all sucked! Y is everyone whining in this movie? Xpecially Christine n Phantom 1 stars
5/25/05 Candice DeGon Man i take drama for a class and i really loved this movie, it was beautiful! Bravo! 5 stars
5/25/05 Tara Adkins I think the movie was great and I dont think that you guys know what your talking about 5 stars
5/24/05 T.S Beautiful. It took my breath away. Love, excitement, tragety amd sorrow.I loved it. 5 stars
5/23/05 Bradley Love it!! Completely awesome. Everyone even does their own singing cept Carlotta.(Driver) 5 stars
5/17/05 od thrillingly, excruciatingly awesome!!!!!! 5 stars
5/17/05 sofi absolutly amazing! A must see! 5 stars
5/11/05 The Phantom Phreak Gaston Leroux would probably like it--'nuff said. 5 stars
5/09/05 Meggie (Insert Profanity Here) I can't believe what I just read! It was a wonderful film 5 stars
5/09/05 roy butcher a bit of an endurance test 3 stars
5/07/05 Anna I loved the stage play, and parts of the movie are beautiful. Parts. 2 stars
5/06/05 ELI W/e!!!!! I don't care if they can't act. Emmy and Patrick are AWSOME! 4 stars
5/05/05 Arion Smith Butler's Phantom awesome-beautiful voice, wonderfully acted, see it and judge for yourself. 5 stars
5/04/05 Louise its excellent you cold hearted critic 5 stars
5/03/05 Anna Shipper if someone enjoys musicals, this is the film for you + Butler is AWESOME as the Phantom 5 stars
5/03/05 Kristina Williams it DID NOT suck. I've never seen the damn play and I LOVED it. 5 stars
4/25/05 david troop brilliant 4 stars
4/24/05 B Stack The reviewers are blind to a good movie and talented stars. This was an A+ 5 stars
4/21/05 stani my favourite film.The best film of all. 5 stars
4/20/05 Elena Erofeeva No acting at all by the main personages 1 stars
4/19/05 Dolores DiCenzo Boring, awful 1 stars
4/15/05 Sparko Emmy Rossum can't act;she's too ugly 1 stars
3/29/05 Tyrantis Sucked the spirit of the play and the book right out. 1 stars
3/26/05 Denise so good 5 stars
3/23/05 Victoria Ross I enjoyed it, although live was better 4 stars
3/10/05 Fake Name Here Phanaticly adore it. 5 stars
3/07/05 Dani Dani i loved it! best movie ever music was awesome it was so sad but so beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
3/07/05 Doris Nelson I loved it. Thought it was great. Saw the stage production in Chicago twice 5 stars
3/05/05 Sid Savillo/Novelist/Scriptwriter The Desire for Lust or for the sake of attention was for the Phantom; Raoul has True Love. 5 stars
2/26/05 Brandy I thought it was visually beautiful but a little long-winded. 4 stars
2/22/05 Amber Hammerschmidt Though GBs voice may not be astounding it is good for the role, and his acting was astoundi 5 stars
2/21/05 Racquel It was the BEST MOVIE Gerard Butler gave an Extrordinary Performance!!!!!! 5 stars
2/20/05 Steve Michaud Recommended only for fans of the stage show; others would do well to stay away 3 stars
2/20/05 Zoorah Awesome moving film 5 stars
2/15/05 sarah wade Best musical I've ever seen. Gerard is so georgous. 5 stars
2/15/05 barbara smith I thought the music was absolutely enchanting. the movie itself gave me goosebumps! 5 stars
2/15/05 BrianWilly I liked it, I thought it was great. 5 stars
2/13/05 M Sands you guys who thinks its crap you no nothing about musicals,rouge was awfully pathetic 5 stars
2/12/05 Sylvia Belle great movie 5 stars
2/12/05 Jason I loved it, I've seen it 5 times so far!!! 5 stars
2/10/05 David Bennett High Production values 3 stars
2/09/05 Lisa Jochelson I am a fan of the play, so while the movie wasn't great, it wasn't too bad either. 3 stars
2/08/05 Kristy Edwards This was the best movie! I saw it 5 times, and will buy the movie the day it comes out!!! 5 stars
2/06/05 Dan Carter I dont no why everyone slates this film, its fantastic, best musical film in years 5 stars
2/02/05 Lynde Foy Not my cup of tea 1 stars
2/01/05 Danita Berg I guess you love it or hate it. I loved it. 5 stars
2/01/05 beth LOVE IT! LOVE IT! LOVE IT! 5 stars
1/30/05 Gretchen Lowe Best movie I've seen all year, I cried when it turned to color in the beginning. Great! 5 stars
1/28/05 Heather Charles You get more out of it than the play. It is a wonderful movie. 5 stars
1/26/05 bob The is the greatest movie I have ever seen 5 stars
1/24/05 brittney i absolutely loved this movie! I fell in love with the music and the costumes. 5 stars
1/24/05 Nick Awesome 5 stars
1/23/05 Kim Everything about the movie was magical! It made going to the movies worth going again! 5 stars
1/22/05 jynn i thought the movie had no impact at all.. nice music, but it was empty. 2 stars
1/22/05 Kristina Williams Why are critics ragging this flick? I just saw it twice in a row and LOVED it! 5 stars
1/21/05 Kish Harris Absolutely fantastic. have seen it 4 times. Sets and music sumptious , phantom gorgeous!!!! 5 stars
1/18/05 Maureen Great movie! 5 stars
1/18/05 Kyle Beston I thought it was a total crap but it turned out to be one of the best films i have ever saw 5 stars
1/16/05 Neutrino What's wrong with you people? It's stunning masterpiece!!! Emmy Rossum just an angel. 5 stars
1/14/05 Yellow Best movie I've seen in 2004/05 (so far) 5 stars
1/14/05 Jeanette Myers Excellent Music 4 stars
1/12/05 Stacey Peachfuzz Not even "funny" bad; just plain miserable. Nice high notes, Gerard. [vomit sound] 1 stars
1/11/05 pam If you don't like the music, then don't go see it. I thought it was great. 5 stars
1/10/05 Kathryn Critics are the ones who blow! I've seen it 5 times!!! 5 stars
1/10/05 Lee I totally loved it - from the breathtaking scenery to Butler as Phantom 5 stars
1/08/05 Allison Couldn't be better - love Gerard Butler 5 stars
1/08/05 Mel Better than Chicago. 5 stars
1/07/05 TyrantisTerror If you don't have a good phantom in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, you don't have a good movie. 2 stars
1/06/05 Nessa Fantastic movie! Erik Childress is a dickhead 5 stars
1/06/05 Green Gremlin a great musical is trashed. 2 stars
1/06/05 Naka Oh, hell no. 1 stars
1/06/05 Banzai Overzealous phanatics are nuts. This film is blatantly terrible. 1 stars
1/05/05 Roger Johnson Critics are nuts. The film is fantastic. 5 stars
1/05/05 Kim Anderson not a note of real music in 2 and a quarter hours. 1 stars
1/05/05 Colleen Actually quite good, and i usually dont like film adaptations of musicals. 4 stars
1/05/05 Jim R. Hands down, the most underrated film of the year. 5 stars
1/05/05 TomF Tim Rice had NOTHING to do with this - this is Webber's baby 2 stars
1/05/05 skeweditalian Les Miz can kick POTO's ass any day of the week 1 stars
1/05/05 Cat A film about a Phantom of the Opera that can't SING!!! 1 stars
1/04/05 PLou I was captivated from beginning to end. The artistry & cinematography were awesome. 5 stars
1/03/05 mickey c If you're a fan of the musical - you'll love it! And that's how it should be!!! 5 stars
1/01/05 Alice Ahlers too much of everything except emotion and not enough of that 1 stars
12/31/04 TyrantisTerror The only problem I had with this movie was how the phantom was portrayed. 2 stars
12/28/04 Deanna In Indiana Phan-atics will adore, and we know a good musical 5 stars
12/27/04 BUNNY LOVED IT ON STAGE, ADORED THE MOVIE 5 stars
12/27/04 charles kaye enjoyed moviemusic and plot 4 stars
12/27/04 Bleh Pure crap. 1 stars
12/26/04 DM A disappointment, but really not all that bad. 3 stars
12/25/04 frank awsome 5 stars
12/25/04 jcjs something lacking for sure 3 stars
12/25/04 chris shoot me... i adored it 5 stars
12/24/04 mike awesome film. Brilliant. Phenominal. 5 stars
12/23/04 Daveman Dreadful, recommended only to Webber die-hards... and you people are weird anyway. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Dec-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 03-May-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Dec-2004




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