By William Wolf

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA  Send This Review to a Friend

Joel Schumacher has done a beautifully cinematic job of adapting “The Phantom of the Opera” for the screen from the long-running stage hit. But that doesn’t make Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music and lyrics any less banal. The look of the film is so striking, and the sets and costumes add to the ambience. Everything has the aura of grand opera, and then come the songs of Lloyd Webber and we’re back to the pedestrian score that some people adore and others can’t stand.

One happy event with the screen adaptation is that this is a breakthrough role for Emmy Rossum, who plays Christine, the female lead, and sings beautifully. No need for dubbing there. Rossum is classically trained and has a gorgeous voice. She looks exquisite in the huge close-ups, and this becomes very much her picture. That’s not meant to take anything away from Gerard Butler, who does well as The Phantom.

The beginning of the film is quite extraordinary as we start with the wreck of an Opera House in which furnishings are being auctioned off, and with a fade to the opera’s glory days, suddenly everything springs to life. It is a beautiful opening that gives the film class at the outset. The art direction, editing, sound and cinematography are blended with expertise.

If only some great music graced the soundtrack instead of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s invitation to ear plugs. The casting helps as far as it can. Patrick Wilson, Minnie Driver, Miranda Richardson and a roster of supporting players contribute admirably. A Warner Brothers release.


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