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Overall Rating
3.25

Awesome42.86%
Worth A Look: 9.09%
Average: 4.33%
Pretty Bad: 17.32%
Total Crap: 26.41%

12 reviews, 159 user ratings


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Phantom of the Opera, The (2004)
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by Erik Childress

"People Who Hate The Phantom Menace...You Mean This One, Right?"
1 stars

What a gaudy monstrosity the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s play has turned out to be. Scratch that. Take two. There’s nothing particularly gaudy about any of it. That would suggest something, anything in excess of its value, which on the big screen is a borderline absolute zero. And I’m speaking from the negative side of mathematics. It certainly is a monstrosity, one of the worst filmed musicals I’ve ever seen, and that includes Cop Rock. Where it lacks in clarity, it’s trumped by its absence of any conceivable passion in the performances and inability to forego its stagy incarnation by failing to break its constraints and let it leap off the screen. The only thing leaping will be audiences from their seats for the nearest exit before all semblance of sanity escapes their being.

Comparing Phantom to Hollywood’s recent comeback to the musical scene is within a league to which it does not belong or even aspired to. Moulin Rouge was most definitely a gaudy monstrosity; one which I was not especially fond of. But that was more on director Baz Luhrmann’s shoulders for turning much of it into the first subliminal musical with editing so rapid that it was impossible to grab an appreciation for the song numbers. When he slowed down, Kidman and MacGregor were dynamite and the production design was quite wondrous.

Rob Marshall’s Chicago was a far superior example, blending not only great musical numbers, but songs that complemented the overall cynicism of the script and matched with an exuberance by the actors. It didn’t matter if Zellweger was the greatest crooner in the world or how weak Richard Gere could tap dance. They sold it. We bought it. Case closed.

Joel Schumacher’s Phantom suffers in every conceivable department, even the areas of film that should just be automatic fallbacks to the criticisms of script, story, dialogue, acting and direction. The outside of the opera house is a set. That’s plain, simple and impossible to ignore from the very first reveal. There are grander faux opera houses at amusement parks; none of them looking like there could actually be wheels underneath waiting to be removed from its current perch. Color me surprised if a single costume was made for this version and not one lifted from a stage production (high school or otherwise.) The illusion is shattered almost instantaneously and it doesn’t end there.

Having never seen the original theatrical production in any forum, I feel safe in saying that its musical numbers were conducted on a stage. Guess what? So are, at least, half of them in the movie. I mean an actual stage. And the camera is so stoic in their presentation that we yearn for the cinematographer to cough or belch just to nudge the camera by accident. We are watching a stage production for all intents and purposes. It’s one thing to absorb heavy dialogue between interesting characters who do nothing but leave a room, but to sit there and watch lips move to the tune of song and nothing else, we might as well be watching a karaoke competition.

In The Aviator, Howard Hughes learns that you can’t appreciate the speed of flight on film if nothing is behind it to dictate its field of motion. That was a lesson taught in the 1920s and probably mentioned somewhere down the pike in film schools everywhere. As a veteran of nearly 20 films, Schumacher should know the concept of a mooootioooon picture. I’ve heard of a trailer giving away all of the best jokes, but never one that revealed all the camera movements.

But, back to the singing. Emmy Rossum has a voice. That is clear. But a lot of people can sing; yes, even as well as she can. They also know how to emote when pouring your heart and soul into a song. Even if they’re faking it just to give a grander show, it’s more of an effort than Rossum puts forth in displaying her love for Raoul (Patrick Wilson) or her fascination with the Phantom (Gerard Butler). She’s nothing but eyes and lips, like the stare off a beauty shop picture or caught in the hypnotic trance of aliens walking to the tone of “YABBA…DABBA…DOO!”

With half of his face covered, he may have a compensating excuse in the dramatization department, but I would have been more comfortable with Axel Rose singing “Music of the Night.” Butler is a stunningly average singer and clearly that’s not what the Phantom needs. He must exude power and terror combined with empathy and romance. Not mediocre singing skills and a fuzzy agenda wedged between lost love and suppressed artistic ambition. Is that what the Phantom is all about? Because the screenplay by Schumacher and Andrew Lloyd Webber doesn’t have a single note of clarity. I imagined what Antonio Banderas (attached to the film version for years) could have done with the role. Schumacher would have given him no help, but at least there would have been one positive. He was absolutely stunning in Alan Parker’s Evita adaptation, done with style, grace and God forbid, a few chances.

On stage, I could probably submit to the power that audiences who swear by the play feel. It’s easy to get caught in the moment, witnessing live music telling a story on garish sets in a limited setting. Movies are a different entity. They have to work a little harder in its translation to capture the same experience. Is the ending of Mamet’s Oleanna more brutal on the stage or in the four corners of the silver screen? Isn’t the fat lady’s vocals more powerful when you’re within a mere earshot of the decibel’s origin? I have a friend whom I’ve witnessed singing tracks from the Phantom soundtrack. No background music. Just a microphone and her desire to sing it. Without knowing how the songs fit into the story or the meaning of each verse, I found her renditions to be completely stirring and, in retrospect, precisely what is absent.

The arguments are already formulated on the Webber Fanboy-and-girl side. They’ve heard it the naysayers for years and are ready to bash critics of the film by calling us anti-musical or anti-Webber. Countering with South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut probably isn’t the answer, but maybe an acknowledgement of Evita ranking very high on my list in 1996 could shut a few up. Bottom line is that theater does not equal cinematic and I’ll be surprised if at least a quarter of the Phantom lovers don’t suffer an outbreak of scurvy watching this debacle. Schumacher mercifully resisted the urge to give the Phantom a nipple-tight costume, but couldn’t resist throwing in a naked ass just to grab a PG-13 rating. I suppose I shouldn’t be complaining, since after experiencing 143 minutes of ASS, what’s one more hole in the film?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11360&reviewer=198
originally posted: 12/22/04 16:22:04
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User Comments

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
8/13/07 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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