The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

I have mixed feelings about Joel Schumacher as I loved Phone Booth and Tigerland, but I hated Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Ergo, although Katy said very nice things about it in her Against the Crowd blogathon entry, I didn't know what to expect from The Phantom of the Opera.

The film tells the story of a disfigured man known only as the Phantom (Gerard Butler) who lives beneath the Paris Opera House. He falls deeply in love with Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum), a talented and young chorus singer, and starts tutoring her while terrorizing the rest of the opera house and demanding leading roles to be always given to her. When Christine meets back up with her childhood friend, Viscount Raoul de Chagny (Patrick Wilson), and they fall in love, the Phantom, insane with jealousy, kidnaps her.

I never saw the original stage musical nor read the French novel upon which it's based on so I wasn't very familiar with the story whose execution turned out to be a huge disappointment. I don't know who is to be blamed for it, but it doesn't make a lot of sense, especially the ending --if the opera house burned down, how come there's no sign of a fire at the beginning of the film as it start in 1919 and then goes back to 1870?--, it is cheesy and predictable, simply not compelling enough to keep me interested. It is pretty much a boring love triangle story with a little bit of insanity.

I found the characters to be just as uncompelling. They are just a bunch of stereotypes with no depth, not even a personality --Minnie Driver's Carlotta, the opera house diva, is the only with some and she was fun-ish to watch. There isn't a single sympathetic character and because of that, I didn't care about any of them at all.

And the performances, oh boy they are bad. Emmy Rossum has such a lovely singing voice and her acting isn't terrible as she manages to convey the character's fragility, but she is not entirely believable as she often does things that don't make a lot of sense --surely, the blame is on Schumacher. Gerard Butler is absolutely terrible. His singing sounds like that from a drunk on karaoke night --he should have taken some singing lessons; his acting is bad as always. Patrick Wilson's performance is nothing short of bland. Miranda Richardson as Madame Giry is the only who gives a decent performance and for some unknown reason, the only with a French accent. Dear Schumacher, if you do accents, then everyone has them, not only one person.

Warner Bros. Pictures, Odyssey Entertainment
However, Schumacher's The Phantom of the Opera isn't a complete misfire. The songs, although some feel forced and the lip sync is off, are pretty good, both lyric and singing wise, and I really appreciate that the cast, with the only exception of Minnie Driver, does their own singing. 

At last, the visual aspect is nothing short of great. The cinematography is unique and charming. The colours are vibrant and the use of colour and black and white is interesting --the present, 1919, is in black an white; the past, 1870, is in colour. And the sets, scenery and costumes are gorgeous.


  1. I didn't know a lot about Phantom when I first saw this in theaters so I didn't hate it either, but after seeing other performances of the play I understand now why people have such a hard time with it. Butler is truly horrendous casting. I don't see how people act like Russel Crow in Les Mis was the worst thing to ever happen in a musical when this is around.

    1. I don't get all the hate for Crowe there to be honest. He wasn't great but he wasn't terrible either.

  2. I actually do like this film as I just love the music and presentation of it. Yes, Joel Schumacher is a hit-miss director as for every triumph such as D.C. Cab, The Lost Boys, and A Time to Kill. There's stinkers like Batman & Robin though I don't hold him totally responsible for that film. I feel like much of the blame should go to screenwriter Akiva Goldsman for writing such awful lines like "HI FREEZE!!!! I'M BATMAN!" and "I WANNA A CAR! CHICKS DIG THE CAR!" "THIS IS WHY SUPERMAN WORKS ALONE" BATMAN DOESN'T SAY STUPID SHIT LIKE THAT! THAT'S NOT FUCKING BATMAN!

    And yes, Shutup Buttwad is a turd as I'd rather hear Russell Crowe sing INXS songs than hear Buttwad sing.

    1. You're right, it isn't completely Schumacher's fault if Batman & Robin turned out the way it turned out. The script is bloody atrocious.