Phantom quite frankly shocked me as to how good it is. I had planned to see it in its theatrical run but my timing would not allow. So, I saw it the first time on HBO. The next day I ordered it from amazon and in 5.1 widescreen plasma was in a word; AWESOME.
The performance by Emmy Rossum left me in a daze for days. Why? She's brilliant! Additionally her subtle beauty and magical voice lent credibility to the story and the torment of the love triangle between Chistine(Rossum), The Phantom and Raoul. The story is extremely plausible and the performances have the ability to actually make one empathetically feel the emotion as the characters emote. Gerard Butler as The Phantom was wonderful. His voice is not in the same class as Rossum's but his performance and acting make up in spades.
Way high kudos to the roles of Firmin and Andre played respectively by Ciarán Hinds and Simon Callow. It's hard to believe but these guys can actually sing. They were great, funny, witty and thoroughly enjoyable.
Then there's the music. It's amazing that the same basic tune and melody can convey so much meaning in so many different scenarios. The original cast production is better simply because there is no match for Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford.
One caution however; pay attention and don't view this movie when you're tired. Every little scene adds to the fantastic layering of the story. If you miss this or miss that, you won't understand the delayed impact points. For example, the story opens with an auction for a monkey-playing-cymbals music box. It doesn't make much sense until mid movie and one really needs to understand what it represents to fully understand the power of the ending of the movie.
Then there are the costumes; they're wonderful. If you liked Baz Lurman's Moulin Rouge, then you will absolutely love this film. Any regrets??? Yes, one. Like Casablanca, and Citizen Kane, they were made before I was born so I never saw them on the big screen. I wished I had seen this lush film, Phantom, in a megaplex. The small screen is great but seeing this on DVD is like seeing Titanic or Star Wars for the first time on DVD; what I'm saying is that nothing compares for certain films like a theater viewing.
Last thing is the 2nd DVD. It contains wonderful scenes on the history of the film, the project and Weber's long-time collaboration with Joel Schumacher. It is an enchanting view inside what it took to make an instant film classic.