I should probably say, I started watching this film with an already biased opinion that the 25th anniversary performance of 'The Phantom of the Opera' would be better than this film - and it was - but I'll try to overlook this while I'm writing the review and look at the film as if it was my first experience of Phantom. Incidentally, I'm very glad it wasn't because I found the movie plot so confusing, if I didn't know the story I would have absolutely no clue what was going on - this is probably true of when I watched the 25th as well but I don't remember being quite as confused back then. Another major problem for me was the Phantom's deformity, if you can call it that. It just wasn't there, he wasn't deformed at all, it just looked like he had a bad sunburn on half of his face - compare this to Ramin's deformity in the 25th anniversary and it becomes more obvious why Christine feels the need for Raoul's protection and love, which isn't really made obvious in the movie since, until the finale, Butler's Phantom is far more attractive than Raoul ever is.
|Gerard Butler unmasked|
One thing I was disappointed by which I didn't expect to be was the sets and the scenery. Despite at times helping to explain events in the story better than the stage show can - due to the fact that the sets can easily be moved between and characters do not have to stay the same for large periods of time, I constantly found myself wishing more had been made of the ability to have beautiful sets because, well, they were pretty average, especially the Opera House and the Phantom's Lair, which could have been stunning.
One of my first thoughts at the beginning of the film was that it was quite good. I loved that the first scene was in black and white and, oddly, the older Raoul was the best actor in the whole film (he has less than 5 minutes screen time) as he could actually act and his pain was obvious his face and eyes alone.
|Ramin Karimloo unmasked|
Another thing I really liked was that Ramin Karimloo (the Phantom in the 25th anniversary performance and one of the best ones ever) was Christine's dad in this film. Although his 'part' was literally being in a photo - if you're getting someone as good as Ramin to be in the film, they could have at least expanded his role - maybe Christine could have had one of those flashbacks the director seemed so keen on, or something? And considering Andrew Lloyd Webber was involved in the production of the film, I don't see why writing another song in would have been such a problem.
A little song from Ramin would have been especially welcome in this film since the singing was pretty awful, really - and the miming along with it terrible, particularly Emmy Rossum as Christine. Most of the time I thought they were having the singing as background whilst she acted, but then I realised she was supposed to be miming. Her voice wasn't that great either, with absolutely no feeling coming through in the majority of her scenes. You would also think the singing would be better since they had the chance to perfect it in the recording rooms and could sing it a number of times, whereas in the stage show it's once or nothing - but, no, it really was bad. Gerard Butler was also clearly only cast for his looks - ironic since he's playing the Phantom. In the book, the main thing about the Phantom is his amazing tone and the wonderful quality in his voice, but with Butler he was just shouting the entire time. And most annoyingly, he was shouting on the notes that were supposed to be big and powerfully sung. But then, at times when he was supposed to be shouting for emphasis, he ended up either singing weakly or speaking the lines. Gahh, it's so annoying!
Another problem I had with the singing and speaking of different lines was mainly when Meg said "it's the Phantom of the Opera..." This made me angry beyond belief - the Phantom is supposed to be absolutely terrifying, which then makes Christine and Raoul's relationship deeper because he becomes her 'protector'. In the film it comes across that the Phantom is like a slightly interesting next door neighbour who comes out sometimes, that old women like to talk about in their spare time. It really is like they're just talking about someone who's a bit odd - not the Phantom of the Opera. Another moment where Meg was disappointing was during 'Angel of Music' when her and Christine are singing at the same time whilst walking down a corridor. It's hilarious. Due to Christine's overly large dress and the fact that the pair are trying to walk down the corridor next to each other, they kind of waddle along trying to fit in the tiny space.
Masquerade was another disappointment - in film why on earth did they choose to dress the whole company in black and white!? There was the opportunity for so much more but this was just overlooked. Also in this scene the main cast members were not part of THE dance. The masquerade dance. They just weren't part of it, with Christine and Raoul taking this one bit further by kissing through some of it - they should be joining in and being a part of the opera company, otherwise they just come across as being detached and excluded from the whole thing.
Also, the way Butler delivered some of his lines in the finale really disappointed me. The words "a face which earned a mother's fear and loathing, a mask my first unfeeling scrap of clothing" always, always make me cry when Ramin sings them, but here they were rushed and just didn't have the same effect. He also delivered the line "Christine I love you" with the "love" stretching across only one syllable - it's so much more powerful when it's delivered across three ("lo-o-ove"), it's so beautiful when it's done like that.