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MattPage

The Phantom of the Opera

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Saw tjhis a couple of days before Christmas with my Family. not much time to say much so I'll have to be brief....

Impressed by the set design, and costuming which was all very grand and lavish, and obviously the music which barring one terrible part which wasn't alllowed to leave the eighties was very good. Cinematography good as well.

Less than impressed by the eighties drum machine in one of the most famous bits of music, some of the CGI, but worse was that I never really felt drawn into the story, or that I cared for the characters. Also the lip syncing was distracting and annoying, and made you wonder who else other than Minnie Driver wasn't really singing. And then ending just got a bit silly.

I've not seen the musical so in some ways I don't really feel I can comment on how it compares, other than there weree places that really shows one of the diffwerence between the two mediums, the lack of freedom for point of focus in film. At times, such as the scene where the Phantom finds out that the girl loves the count, you have to look at them kissing, then at the phantom, rather than gradually notice the count o however that works.

And one final complaint - the phantom just wasn't ugly enough (and his hair changed colour when he toook his mask off.

So worth seeig, and should have a shot at the set design Oscar, but not in my year top 10.

So there you go - has anyone else seen it?

Matt

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I took my sister to the stage musical when it came to Vancouver 13 years ago, for her 12th birthday, so of course, I had to take her to this movie on Friday. (She said it brought back all sorts of memories, but since I was 21 way back then and well past the more formative years, this musical was never in danger of making quite THAT big an impression on me.) (Side note: Ever since I took her to the musical, whenever we have gone anywhere and I have parked the car outside a 7-Eleven or something, she has always sung the opening words to that one song, "Think of me, think of me fondly...," as a way of asking me to buy her a treat. When she began to sing that again nostalgically before the movie began, I nodded to the popcorn and drink and said, "But I already DID!")

FWIW, I have never quite understood the appeal of the musical itself -- musically, most of the best themes are exhausted by the end of the first act, and lyrically, the story really seems to be just a simple love triangle, peppered with self-conscious or self-referential bits about life in the theatre -- but I thought the film did just about as good a job with the musical as it could have done. The film is basically just the sort of opulent spectacle that the musical calls for.

I do have a few niggling complaints: Like you say, the Phantom doesn't seem to be ugly enough to warrant the sort of grand treatment he gets here, and he seems a bit young to be the "father" figure that Christine is looking for. I also thought they tried too hard to "explain" things such as the origin of the Phantom, whether through extra dialogue or flashback sequences or whatever. I was also not sure how to take the fact that the film shows the device by which the Phantom made Carlotta sing like a "toad" -- it has been too long since I saw the stage musical, so I cannot say for sure, but I had thought this was more of a supernatural thing. (FWIW, the drum machine you mention is very noticeable on the late-'80s CD that I have, too, so it kinda goes with the territory.)

I know Lloyd Webber has based a number of his musicals on films (Sunset Boulevard, Whistle Down the Wind), but I think this is the only other Lloyd Webber musical besides Jesus Christ Superstar that has been made into a film -- are there others?

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I think this is the only other Lloyd Webber musical besides Jesus Christ Superstar that has been made into a film -- are there others?

I think so ... unless you want to count the TV special of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, featuring Donny Osmond, back when he appeared in a revival of the stage version.

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Evita

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Ann D. wrote:

: Evita

D'oh! Of course -- I've still got the video copy that I borrowed from a friend of mine months ago (and still have not watched...).

FWIW, I never saw the stage version of Evita, but I did see one of the Ted Neeley / Carl Anderson revivals of Jesus Christ Superstar when it blew through town several years ago.

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I thought visually, the film looked gorgeous. The costumes and set design were beautiful. The singing and the music were quite good, I didn't even mind the drum machine. Emmy Rossum was quite impressive in her acting and singing. I agree that Minnie Driver was a distraction, couldn't they have found a real opera singer to wear that costume and makeup?

I agree with everyone else here, the Phantom was just a little too "pretty". I've never seen the actual musical, so I don't know if the Phantom is usually portrayed as older or more grotesque. I thought that little half-mask he wore in the film was a little goofy. I think he should have kept the full mask, so he could be really disfigured, making his character more believable.

Also, The Onion has issued an urgent health warning for anyone who is going to see the film. laugh.gif

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: FWIW, the drum machine you mention is very noticeable on the late-'80s CD

: that I have, too, so it kinda goes with the territory

See, this is what everyone keeps saying when I say this, but, I don't get it. Surely, they could have changed it without being unfaithful to the original - I mean even just using live drums would have made a heck of a difference. It just seems so out of place with the rest of the music.

I agree with everyone else here, the Phantom was just a little too "pretty".  I've never seen the actual musical, so I don't know if the Phantom is usually portrayed as older or more grotesque.  I thought that little half-mask he wore in the film was a little goofy.  I think he should have kept the full mask, so he could be really disfigured, making his character more believable.

FWIW the half mask has always been the style of mask that's been associated with the musical in my mind for whatever reason.

Matt

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Orson Scott Card gives Phantom of the Opera an enjoyable lashing here, along with some praise for The Flight of the Phoenix.

Phantom of the Opera, the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit Broadway musical, is now limping along in theaters throughout the world. One can only hope that, dubbed in Italian, French, or Spanish, they did a better job of casting the right voices.

The actors in the English-language version did their best, and who can fault them for accepting the roles, even if they weren't equipped to play them?

In some musicals, having a great voice doesn't matter all that much, especially in film, where voices can be intimate.

The problem is that the storyline of Phantom absolutely depends on the singing being lush and gorgeous. The character Christine is supposed to knock a Parisian opera audience dead; the Phantom is supposed to be a twisted musical genius; Carlotta is supposed to be an established diva.

Ordinary Broadway voices won't do.

Yet these actors were not strong enough, vocally, even for Broadway.

Only Carlotta (acted by Minnie Driver, sung by Margaret Preece) gave us any hint of operatic quality. Everybody else would have been jeered off of any opera stage in Europe (where they have a history of jeering inadequate opera singers as mercilessly as, say, American presidents).

Sarah Brightman originated the role of Christine on Broadway, and even though her voice can be irritating sometimes, she has the range to soar on the high notes, and the strength to be believable as an opera singer. Emmy Rossum has a sweet young voice, but it has no credibility in any of the songs.

Michael Crawford originated the role of the Phantom on Broadway, and even he lacked the strength in the low notes to be convincing; and the adenoidal tone that made his voice gratingly awful in Hello, Dolly! had not improved enough with maturity. Wisely, they did not use him for the film.

But the replacement, Gerard Butler, while a very good actor, simply had neither the range nor the tone to bring off the vocals.

Patrick Wilson, playing boyfriend Raoul, came closest. He had a couple of truly powerful notes -- but of course his character was the only one who was not supposed to be musically brilliant.

But let's pretend that the singing was adequate, or that you don't care.

The actors are attractive and do a very good job of making it seem almost natural to go from speech to song and back again.

The set decoration is gorgeous.

The popcorn was delicious.

Now for the bits that failed.

...

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Ugh. After listening to the sample clip of "Music of the Night" on Amazon, I can see what the critic meant by "not strong enough, vocally, even for Broadway". Michael Crawford sang that number so beautifully; this guy sounds disappointingly amateur at best.

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Having finally seen PotO after all these years I really struggle to see Crawford in the role, being most familar with him from "Some mothers do have 'em". I think I began to think he must just be putting that voice on and then at wround the same time as I saw the film I saw Crawford being ionterviewed and all these years later he still sounds more like Spencer than the Phantom.

Matt

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From day one, I have always found it amusing that Crawford was the Phantom, since I know him best as the star of Disney's Condorman (1981). smile.gif

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From day one, I have always found it amusing that Crawford was the Phantom, since I know him best as the star of Disney's Condorman (1981).  smile.gif

CON-DOR-MAN!

Oh, man, I loved that stupid movie. More than once when it was in theaters I walked over four miles round trip to see that thing. Someday I must see it again. superman.gif

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Did you ever get the Condorman comics? I have two of them -- one an adaptation of part of the movie, the other a story that takes place afterwards.

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It was "a-ight"...no big fuss. My wife's gonna try to force me to watch the Broadway version when we go to New York in May.

One of the things that helped me to enjoy the film was seeing it in the Cinerama Dome on Sunset & Vine in Hollywood. 86 ft wide screen...12,000 watts pumping out of 44 speakers. Just about the only theatre in the world that can make this piece of cheese seem epic.

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I saw the film at a new theater that just opened here with a "mega-screen", 50 feet by 80 feet, and a state of the art sound system. The giant screen certainly helped made the film look like an epic. Now I'm hoping that they show Star Wars III and Hitchhiker's Guide on the mega-screen this summer. w00t.gif

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One of the things that helped me to enjoy the film was seeing it in the Cinerama Dome on Sunset & Vine in Hollywood. 86 ft wide screen...12,000 watts pumping out of 44 speakers. Just about the only theatre in the world that can make this piece of cheese seem epic.
Interesting you say that, I thought it seemed very epic as well, in a non-super cinema, but the choice of cinema is interesting in this case as it was a very decorative old cinema (probably 100 years old), which aslo had a balcony, so for many of the scenes the internals of the cinema blended well into the internals of the theatre we were seeing inside - Made me feel a little bit more their if you know what I mean - definitely addded to the atmosphere.

Matt

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The Problem with the Phantom is that he looked exactly like John Travolta w00t.gif

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Do you mean with or without the Phantom's facial deformity?

Matt

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FWIW, this film may have opened small, and the dollars may still be just trickling in, but The Phantom of the Opera has been hovering at the #9 or #10 point on the box office lists for four weeks now -- this, while a number of other films have opened above it and plummeted down below it. Is it a word-of-mouth thing? Is it because the movie version is guaranteed to have some longevity -- even longevity as a SMALL movie, in terms of audience counts -- just as the live-musical version had longevity?

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Did you ever get the Condorman comics?  I have two of them -- one an adaptation of part of the movie, the other a story that takes place afterwards.

Ooh, hm. The adaptation one sounds familiar, but I don't think I got the sequel. And I was always disappointed that that movie never got a sequel, because the last scene is such a clear set-up for one. I felt like this was only the origin story and now I wanted a follow-up! sad.gif

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I remember Condorman! I was really little when I saw it but it still sticks with me.

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Oh the joy of being able to clear my throat in this particular way... ;)

A-hem

Matt

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I agree that Minnie Driver was a distraction, couldn't they have found a real opera singer to wear that costume and makeup?

...

Also, The Onion has issued an urgent health warning for anyone who is going to see the film. :lol:

I doubt any bona fide opera singer would have wanted to be associated with such a production.

Love the link. I suspect I was suffering from some of the side effects of watching this movie, particularly the following:

"PMSD sufferers walk through their days with the specter of an unnecessary musical number hanging over them like a mask," Lambert said. "The prelude is constantly playing in their unconscious minds, threatening to crescendo into exaggerated, choreographed action at any moment. Anything can set them off: a chandelier, a strain of saccharine music, a gaudy outfit."

I was dragged to see it by a friend of mine. I hated the stage musical (I hate all stage musicals) but she was kinda obssesive and wouldn't let the matter drop. Was singing the damn thing for months afterwards.

She also dragged a mutual friend for a repeat viewing. He, being unaware of anything remotely populist, didn't know it was a musical and so proceeded to cry with laughter from the miunute the first note was sung. Wish I'd been there.

Having said all that - I absolutely loved the film. I adored that it was unabashadly melodramatic. Like the best soap operas. As for the drum machine - it would have been lost without it in my opinion. It fits the entire over the top-ness of the whole thing. Anything less would have undermined the ridiculous action on screen.

Finally - how utterly fantastic was the trailer for this movie? Best trailer I've seen since Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

From day one, I have always found it amusing that Crawford was the Phantom, since I know him best as the star of Disney's Condorman (1981). :)

Have you ever seen "Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em"? He plays Frank Spencer, a character as stupid as he looks. He has a wimpy lisp of a voice, completely the opposite of the Phantom. Crawford is an incredible physical actor, he did most of his own stunts in this series - largely vaudevillian but some just down right dangerous ones too.

Edited by gigi

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ooh Betty,

Watched his roller skating stunt about a billion times over Christmas - and still very very funny even the last time.

Matt

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