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171 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A visual powerhouse and a musical delight for anyone willing to give it a chance!
As a qualifier, I am an avid musical theatre fan and classically trained singer. Back in the 80s, I couldn't be bothered with seeing Phantom, partly because I was too busy going to show after show of Les Miserables, but mostly because I couldn't picture Michael Crawford as anything other than Cornelius, the wussy shop boy in Hello Dolly. His voice is nicely trained but...
Published on January 19, 2006 by J. Irwin

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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ellison shines as a more "Leroux" Meg
Honestly, I too viewed this movie musical with mixed emotions. As a phan of the original novel by Gaston Leroux, I had simply fallen in love with the cynical Meg Giry, and her dark countenance. When I saw the broadway show I was appalled.

Music and Lyrics: GREAT

ADAPTATION: HORRENDOUS.

Meg was now some sissy blonde who was scared of...
Published on December 28, 2005 by beata-beatrix


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171 of 175 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A visual powerhouse and a musical delight for anyone willing to give it a chance!, January 19, 2006
As a qualifier, I am an avid musical theatre fan and classically trained singer. Back in the 80s, I couldn't be bothered with seeing Phantom, partly because I was too busy going to show after show of Les Miserables, but mostly because I couldn't picture Michael Crawford as anything other than Cornelius, the wussy shop boy in Hello Dolly. His voice is nicely trained but his upper register is just simply annoying. I'm sorry to all his fans, but in my musical mind tenor does not equal dark and mysterious and emotionally tortured. The anger expressed by phans over casting the originals is just silly! Who wants to watch a 61-year old lusting after an older teenager? That is not entertainment, that is just gross...anyway, after relentless hounding by my niece, I broke down and took her to NYC to see it. It was wonderfully entertaining and I was glad to have gone.

Ranting over, on with the good stuff. The movie is an absolutely over-the-top, spectacle in everything (AS IT SHOULD BE, FOLKS!) We're dealing with 19th century, gothic romance and a musical score that is closer to opera than not.

Honestly, what else could you expect?

The visual aspects of the movie are rich and sensual and draw the viewer into 19th century Paris. From the opening crack of the auction gavel to the end scenes of phantom disappearing into the emptiness of his life, I found myself ignoring the actors to "let the spectacle astound" me.

The performances were very good with moments of brilliance for some. I'll save the best for last, so...

MIRANDA RICHARDSON-MADAME GIRY-wonderfully mysterious, has great empathy for phantom, yet realizes he must be stopped. Any cast is improved by her presence.

CIARAN HINDS/SIMON CALLOW-MONSIEURS ANDRE/FIRMIN-light comic relief from two veteran actors with good voices.

MINNIE DRIVER-LA CARLOTTA-completely campy and completely hilarious. Eventhough Driver is a trained singer, her singing parts had to be dubbed by a true operatic soprano. The closing credits song is nicely sung by Driver, though. SIDENOTE: I have read some reviews that criticized the dubbed voice of the soprano as overblown and baudy-umm, hello? Carlotta is SUPPOSED to be past her prime and painful to hear-enough already!

Now for the big three:

PATRICK WILSON-RAOUL-Let's face it, the part itself is not exactly meaty but rather insipid. Wilson handles it competently and even ups the hero factor. An accomplished Broadway actor, he has a wonderful lyrical tenor voice, but it does get drowned out at times by the dynamic swells in the orchestrations, a mixing problem, not his. That hair was awful, though!

EMMY ROSSUM-CHRISTINE-In a word, angelic. Again, the critics drive me insane with reviews stating her young voice was not polished enough. DUH!!! She was 17. The storyline clearly implies that Christine is very good, but to excel she needs to return to her teacher. Rossum's upper register did sound a bit pinched in a couple of spots, but the quality in general was pure and open especially during the boat ride to phantom's lair as she is essentially vocalizing on an open "ah" that ends on E above High C-yikes!

Her acting performance was average-it would have been better to see a little more confliction/emotional stress in her facial expressions. The graveyard number was beautiful and poignant-lovely. However, the instant costume change from white dressing gown to black irked me.

GERARD BUTLER-PHANTOM-In a word, sublime! As the critics have said-he's no Michael Crawford-THANK THE GOOD LORD!!! This talented Scot absolutely commands the eye to watch every move he makes. His phantom is emotionally wrecked, sexy, dark, edgy, tragic, soulful and ultimately heartbreaking. As others scoff at the frilly costumes and assume the bared chest shots are purely for female viewers, I feel his vulnerability is made even more apparent by those ruffled shirts which seem to lay wide open his aching heart that waits for someone to take care of it.

Butler's singing performance is quite good for someone with so little training. Yes, a couple upper notes seem shouted and/or strained, but I do not think it detracts from the performance, but rather adds a sense of desperation that he no longer has control over Christine and his efforts to do so are futile. Butler's performance highlight is, without a doubt, Point of No Return; it is simply mesmerizing.

Butler's phantom is raw sensuality and emotion. He could not possibly be more in love with Christine and it is heartbreaking to watch him be denied and ultimately defeated. If you can watch the last 30 minutes without crying, you have a cold, dead heart! Butler is so captivating and convincing that it is inconceivable to me how Christine chooses Raoul over phantom.

Do yourself a favor, get a bottle of good Italian wine, settle in for a couple of hours of shameless romance and let your fantasies unwind through Gerard Butler's phantom.
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868 of 926 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PHANTOM is a solid and spectacular film musical, December 25, 2004
By 
Hazen B Markoe (St. Paul, MN United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Many people will look at this film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic musical spectacular, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA with mixed emotions. There are people who will be upset that Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford, who played the original Christine and Phantom respectively, were not allowed to recreate their signature roles. There will also be people who'll be disappointed that this version is not a literal translation of the stage musical. Finally, we have the critics of both Webber and director Joel Schumacher, who have both been accused of wretched excess in previous projects in their individual careers. Taken as a film version however, this PHANTOM stands the test of time, not only as a wonderful musical film, but as one of the more faithful versions of Gaston Laroux's romance/horror novel.

Starting with a black and white prologue, the film tells the story of budding opera star Christine Daae and the two men who fight for her heart: the noble Viscount who she knew in childhood, and the mysterious Phantom of the Paris Opera House who hides his ugliness behind a half-mask while sponsoring Christine's career. Like the stage production, this film is awash in glorious colors and sets that would put many epics to shame. It's well balanced by solid performances that help propel the romantic, if melodramatic, story along.

Gerard Butler makes for a wonderfully dark and obsessive Phantom, while allowing the character to retain the audience's sympathy. Miranda Richardson is solid as the dour Madame Giry, who knows the Phantom's secret. Minnie Driver easily gets the most laughs as the over-bearing diva, Carlotta. (It's interesting to note that Ms. Driver's singing is dubbed in the film proper, while she actually sings the new closing credits melody "Learn to be Lonely.") Patrick Wilson makes for a stalwart, if somewhat bland, Viscount. But the strongest impression is made by the lovely Emmy Rossum. Only in her late teens when filming, she turns in a fantastic performance with a crystal clear voice that does justice to Webber's score. Joel Schumacher does a strong enough job in directing this film, allowing the music and the screenplay that he co-wrote with Webber to shine.

In the end, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is a delightful spectacle that does justice in its own way to both the stage original and Laroux's book. As such, this is a film I highly recommend.
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200 of 213 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, romantic and truly memorable............, February 18, 2005
You know that a movie works when it follows you long after you've left the movie theater. I saw the Broadway tour of "Phantom of the Opera" a few years ago and it has been my favorite musical since. I love it more than Cats, 42nd Street, West Side Story, Les Miserables, Miss Saigon...you name it. Its romanticism and beautiful songs just blew me away.

I was then somewhat hesitant to see the film version, fearing that it would not live up to my expectations. A little over two hours later and I found myself crying over the Phantom (Gerard Butler) and his love for the young Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum) as she decides between him or the nobleman Raoul (Patrick Wilson).

In short, I love this movie! It was everything I had hoped it to be and more. The story is faithful to the stage version but it also gives the audience a closer look into the lives of the three main characters. The art direction, sets and costumes are resplendent and breath-taking. And the songs are brought to life superbly by the talented cast of young newcomers (Rossum, Wilson) and film veterans (Miranda Richardson, Ciaran Hinds, Simon Callow).

I know many would argue that Michael Crawford was a superb Phantom...that is, except for me. I always felt that Crawford's voice was too high-pitched and not manly enough. To me, Gerard Butler is more effective Phantom. Apart from being incredibly handsome (under that make-up), tall and well built, he also has this rough and raspy voice that is very masculine and full of passion. He IS the Phantom! Emmy Rossum has a hauntingly beautiful voice and has an innocence and sweetness that fits perfectly for Christine. Her voice gives me goosebumps! Patrick Wilson's romantic voice contrasts well with that of the Phantom's. After all, one is supposed to be a nobleman and the romantic hero while the other is dark, mysterious and brooding (like the misunderstood Quasimodo of "Hunchback of the Notre Dame.") But even without the singing, Gerard Butler turns in a memorable and passionate performance as the Phantom and you really do feel for him in the end. If there was one fault to this film, for me, it would be Minnie Driver's Carlotta. She was so over the top that I sometimes found her grating.

All in all, however, I walked out of the theater wanting to see "Phantom of the Opera" again and again (I've now seen it twice and counting). I couldn't get the music out of my head and have since purchased the CD. I can't wait for the dvd to come out so I can watch it over and over. I highly recommend it to fans of the stage version, music lovers and incurable romantics everywhere. And if you loved the songs, be sure to pick up the equally superb soundtrack. This phantom will haunt you long after you've left the movie theater....and I have gladly fallen under its spell. Superb!
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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't let the critics fool you!, February 17, 2005
This movie is superb! I really loved the stage musical but this is ten times better...no, a hundred times better. I even had people who said they disliked the stage version comment on how great this film is. I don't understand why the critics are so harsh when the viewers are enjoying it. I should know, I've seen it nine times already...and I'm not the only one.

There are some prominent changes from the stage version, but if you've never seen the stage version this movie is just as enjoyable. Gerard Butler did a phenomenal job. I myself was a little leary of him, knowing he's no Michael Crawford, but now I like him a lot better than Michael Crawford. He makes the Phantom more emotional, powerful, and more easier to sympathize with. Gerard definately deserved an Oscar nod for his role, but that's neither here nor there.

I won't give away any of the surprises of the film, but I will tell you something...you won't be disappointed. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get mad, you'll feel sad, you'll want to jump for joy, then you'll want to throw things...it's a very emotional piece and not just for women (believe it or not, more men have cried in the theater than women).

This is a must buy! You may even want two copies because you will wear out one of them for sure.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous, sensual and exquisite, June 1, 2006
By 
Phantomfreak07 "Ash" (The loft apartment, Avenue B, NYC) - See all my reviews
I have to say that until the spring of 2005 I absolutely LOATHED the Phantom. My mom has seen it at least twice and has the original London recording on a cassette, and she used to make me listen to it when I was little...apparently I thought it scary. But when the movie came out, my friends were all dying to see it, and I was actually going to go along and humor them; never happened. We ended up waiting till it came out on dvd and rented it for Mother's Day (b/c once again, my mom wanted to see it).

As soon as the overture started, with everything shining clean and sparkling, I was hooked.

For everything I've heard against the cast (mainly the Phantom), I thought everyone was stellar. Patrick Wilson was sensitive and believable as Raoul. You could feel his chemistry with Rossum -- like they really had known each other their whole lives. On that note, Emmy was AMAZING. For a sixteen-seventeen year old, her voice was beautiful. I loved Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again. And she proved that she can hold her own with the older guys in the production. <Warning> I am now going to gush about the Phantom. :)

Gerry made the show, and he definitely doesn't get enough credit for it... But I'll give people the benefit of the doubt and say that this is a free country where everyone has their own opinions. Anyway, contrary to what others have said, his singing may have been overdone, but it's an opera! Opera is supposed to be over the top, people, come on! ...Plus he's so handsome that whatever wrong notes he hits, he makes up for it in some way, shape or form later in the film. Where Michael Crawford's voice held an edgy danger, Butler's has a sensual caress. Music of the Night is a prime example: Gerry purrs every verse, and makes everything flow so beautifully. Oh, and Point of No Return... no words for that one, it's so breathtaking. For both Gerry and Emmy. I'll stick with Wandering Child as my favorite song because I totally love the violin solo at the beginning, and the way his voice just seeps into you.

Minnie Driver definitely stole some of the show. Memorable moment: Il Muto and the world's first croaking diva! Yay! Miranda Richardson was also a very good choice -- she was able to play both sides of the fence very well.

Overall, a wonderfully cast, beautifully designed, brilliantly done film that deserved more awards than it won. Very sophisticated for a musical piece. Go see it.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start a journey through a strange new world, February 17, 2005
This is probably not a movie for the extremely cynical. So it's no wonder why many critics, especially having already established a dislike for Lloyd Webber and Schumacher, did not give this masterpiece the credit it truly deserved. One of the most beautiful films I have ever laid eyes on, "Phantom" is not meant to be analyzed--it is meant to carry you off your feet in one sweeping blow. It is meant to be viewed by an audience prepared to let themselves enter another world more lush, more strange, and more unbelievable than their own--and it seems most audiences embraced the experience. Like the sets and costumes, for which this film was at once praised and frowned upon, the melodic score surrounds every inch of you and settles itself in your head for at least a good week afterward.

Moreover, there is a heart at the center of all the gold leaf and curtains--in short, Schumacher has stuck with the formula that made the show a mega-success over the past two decades. Like the show, not every detail of the film is perfect, but the overall experience can be described as nothing short of breathtaking. Don't look for trendy, frentic camera work here: the film knows its larger-than-life source material, and so is done in a big, bold, Old Hollywood fashion--and the result is a very successful adapation of the world's most successful show to date. There is no doubt that Lloyd Webber's "Phantom" is a people-pleaser.

I saw this movie with very picky moviegoers...one had a great big smile on his face as he walked out and the other, although laughing during the film at some parts that seemed overly fantastic, had to admit it was wonderful and now wants the soundtrack. As for myself--even being a big fan and once "purist" of the stage show for many years did not stop me from loving this movie (as you can see).

This film must be seen, if only for the visual wonder of it all...but most will come away with much more.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way the Phantom should sound!, January 19, 2006
What is all this chatter about the 'original' Phantom? Andrew Lloyd Webber explained his choice of Gerard Butler as the Phantom: he said he wanted a 'rock star' persona, and Michael Crawford, no matter what age, would not have fulfilled that requirement; Gerard Butler did. I have seen the stage play, and the movie several times, and I own both the London stage and movie soundtracks, and one thing that stands out is the emotion in Mr. Butler's version, which does not come across to me in Mr. Crawford's version. When Gerard's Phantom is sad, you know it -- when he's angry, you REALLY know it! I also believe Emmy Rossum is about as perfect a Christine as there could be . . . how lucky was that? She's divine! And how about Minnie Driver? What a hoot! I love her "these things do happen" routine, who cares if she doesn't sing? What professional opera singer could they have found who could have played the role 1/2 as well?

Anyhow, forget 'the original' for now. Give these fresh new people credit for breathing new life and excitement into the most successful musical of all time -- they have certainly earned it.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie moved me like none other., February 19, 2005
By 
I have now seen this movie three times and cannot seem to get enough of it. I can't remember a time when I have felt so emotionally moved by something in the theater. I agree with many of the other reviewers here, maybe the vocals are not laced with the experience of the stage production, but the depth of emotion and heartache conveyed by the characters, (especially the phantom) will take your breath away. I went down immediately and bought the soundtrack and that is all that has been playing in my car ever since.

The second time I went, my fifteen year old son went with me. Now this is a typical, action-loving young man who goes to the movies to watch things blowing up. He said that from the moment the chandelier rose from the opera floor and the overture began playing, the hairs on his arms stood on end and stayed that way for most of the movie. I don't care what the critics say, that says something.

I am trying to control myself, because I know I will be getting the DVD, but I will probably make it to the theater for a fourth helping of this musically majestic and visually enrapturing film. You just can't beat sitting in that dark theater with the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber pulsing through your veins to the beat of your heart.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING!, February 17, 2005
I happen to be a mature movie-goer, but I totally disagree with the critics. PHANTOM OF THE OPERA was truly the greatest movie I have ever seen. Purely amazing in every way, haunting and very heartbreaking. The movie will leave you in tears for at least 3 parts of the movie. PHANTOM was purely spectacular. Why the critics say this movie is poor is beyond me. I have seen this 4 times and I am still not sick of it. Truly brilliant, artistic, and haunting.....this film is, in my eyes, a true marvel that towers over the rest.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Escape For 2 hours and 25 minutes, February 17, 2005
This is what going to the movies is all about. The movie production is lush, sensual and down right sexy! Gerry Butler brought a new depth to the character of the Phantom that I did not see in the stage production. His voice is not as trained as Michael Crawford, but who cares. He brought a harder edge to his vocals and it was perfect for the role he played. Emmy Rossum was a wonderful young Christine and Patrick Wilson played the perfect "boy next door" who falls in love with Christine. Buy, rent or see the movie and I promise you will enjoy the fantasy and beauty of the Phantom Of The Opera.
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The Phantom of the Opera [Blu-ray]
The Phantom of the Opera [Blu-ray] by Joel Schumacher (Blu-ray - 2006)
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