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The Phantom of the Opera [Movie]

Review by MistoNinja

The Phantom of the Opera fared better as a film than I had first expected. This is perhaps due to its truthfulness to its classic source material: the masterfully done setting and extracted music all work like absolute magic on the big screen. In fact, the film version exceeds the quality of the Broadway show in all facets but one. It is such a shame indeed that the vocals pale in comparison to the play.

The story of The Phantom of the Opera is perhaps intentionally cheesy, but it functions extremely well. Christine is a performer at an opera house in Paris, an untapped singing talent that is instead masked in ballet dances. She does have one rather large and powerful fan, however: The dark and begrudging Phantom that haunts the opera house. The theater works under his mercy, and the managers have no choice but to abide by the commands he sends to them via letters sealed with a blood-red skull. When the main diva is unable to fulfill her duties, the Phantom commands that Christine take on the lead role at an upcoming opera performance. In case you haven't guessed so yet, the Phantom is quite enamored with Christine, and her debut as lead serves only to fuel his covetous desire. Posing as the Angel of Music that Christine's dearly departed father promised would look over her, the Phantom dissuades Christine and kidnaps her, bringing her to his underground layer. The Phantom then decides to return her to the overworld so that she can continue to perform, and Christine meets up with her childhood sweetheart, Raoul. When the two confess newfound love for one another, the Phantom's heart is broken and his wrath is swift and severe...

As mentioned before, all aspects of the film version of Phantom are handled with meticulous care. The set pieces and costuming are by far the crowning achievments, dripping with the style of the era. Most impressive is the scene set to the song "Masquerade," a prime example of both fantastic set and costuming, with nearly every aspect charged with kinetic energy. The directing works as a grade platter on which the mise-en-scene are served, with most camera angles contributing to the artwork of the film. Yet the set and costumes can only go so far. Without fantastic singing, The Phantom of the Opera is only The Phantom of the [blank].

While the music is adequete in the movie, it's such an immense disappointment in light of the play. I recall the Phantom as a tragic, tear-jerking character in the show. In the movie, however, his vocal work tends to be a bit strained, and the only real emotion the actor manages to get across is fury. The Phantom is indeed a powerful force to be reckoned with, yet he's also a somber character. While I still felt a pang in my heart at The Phantom of the Opera's conclusion, I walked out of the theater wishing there had been something more to the vocal work. In fact, the best match for the play's characters were surprisingly the two bumbling managers of the opera house, and their roles are sparse. Christine's singing was hardly operatic at all, which is completely ironic given the character.

Despite the music issues, The Phantom of the Opera still makes for a phantastic film (Wow, a movie pun. That's terrible). It's still a deliciously cheesy yet immensely energetic experience that's well worth the price of admission.

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