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Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Because I know that the number of people who really read this thing are few and far between, I won't feel so bad posting the following:

The Phantom of the Opera DVD is quite simply put, bad. How bad you ask? Ummm, nails on a chalk board and nasty papercut bad. I will elaborate...from the beginning.

Though I was looking forward to this film, I was doing so very cautiously. I have yet to see an ALW musical that translated well on screen...and I was hoping that this time, things would be different. After all, the dashingly handsome and talented Patrick Wilson was cast as our hero, Raoul Vicomte de Chagny. Ok, so I admit, for me, that was the only thing the film had going for it. Sir Andrew (Lloyd Webber) was producing and had full creative control over his project, but still...something told me to remain cautious.

Clue #1: Joel Schumacher.
Clue #2: And I cringe as I type this out, only because he is terribly hot and seemingly the nicest guy, but...Gerry Butler. Let me just mention that when he was cast, I had never heard of him before. Wasn't sure if an "unknown" without any real professional vocal training/experience could pull off a role that was vocally heavy.
Clue #3: This was a film that nobody ever thought would be produced. Casting rumors had been swirling for YEARS teasing people with the idea that the film was coming to fruition.

Cut to...November something or another. I went with a friend to see an advanced screening where the entire cast, director and Sir Andrew would perform a Q&A following the screening. As the lights dimmed and the music began to swell, I sat anxiously in my seat only hoping that the film would on some level make me as happy as the stage version had for so many years. Despite my initial suspicions, I did have to admit that the trailer looked AMAZING. It was dramatic, stunning, colorful, exciting...all good things...or so I thought because the trailer ended up being the only good thing about the film.

The opening sequence was great, I got chills from being so excited. Then, I got chills throughout the rest of the film because it was so horrid. How do I describe the film...cheesy, disjointed, ugly, badly directed, bad pacing, bad cinematography...did I mention cheesy? The actors in the Andre and Fermin roles were trying too hard resulting in unbelievable characters that you didn't mind not liking. Then came the Masquerade was dull, boring and very GOLD. Yes, GOLD and they were VOGUE-ING (a la Madonna). I won't even bother elaborating.

As for the main characters...Emmy Rossum exceeded my expectations and I thought was well cast as Christine. I knew of her, but wasn't very familiar with her body of work. Patrick was a fine Raoul, however I didn't think it showcased the breadth or depth of his talent. It was a great experience for him I'm sure, and he did a fine job in the role. Patrick's voice far outshined the rest of the cast (and I'm not just saying that because he is a two-time Tony Award nominee in musical theatre). My only real criticism for him is indirect as it is due to whoever thought that Raoul should have long hair. It might have worked on some actors in the role, but not Patrick. Shorter hair to match the period of the film, yes...but long hair? It just made him look gay and like a wimpy Raoul. Sorry Patrick.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Phantom supposed to have some horrific disfigured face? Well, ...Gerry was hardly disfiugred and barely horrifically freakish. He had a droopy, lazy right eye and perfect skin on his left side. Oh yeah, and a bad wig. How then is he scary when he's too pretty? Maybe it was his singing that was most frightening to Emmy's Christine? Not sure, but if any of the creative PTB were going for scary and disfigured Gerry/Phantom I've gotta say, "Sorry folks, you failed because he was much to pretty."

I almost forgot to mention Minnie Driver's performance...again, weary when I heard she was cast as Carlotta, a Bel Canto (as she would say) operatic singer, but she was really great. She didn't exactly do her own singing (except for the end-credits) but she pulled off the over-the-top diva-esque Carlotta perfectly.

Ok, so after all that (and trust me, this is all an abbreviated "review" of sorts), cut to today, May 3, 2005. It is a big day in the world of CD and DVD releases for me. To start, today was the day Spamalot -- the hottest ticket on Broadway -- was being released as was Little Women -- the best show I saw on my last trip to New York. In addition, I was waiting for the DVD of POTO because of all the special features. Though I wasn't sure what would be on it, I figured it had to be somewhat informative. Big mistake -- is anyone seeing a trend with me in regard to this film? Hey, you figure, 2-disc DVD, that second disc has gotta be something! WRONG. Said second disc has 3 features. To the average viewer, they can ooh and ahh at the "Behind the Mask"/"Behind the Scenes" BS...but I've already heard this story before! Give me something else, right? WRONG. Give me "interesting" interviews or unique behind the scenes...give me (at the very least) a freaking commentary track from Sir Andrew and any member (or 2, or 3, or 4) of the cast. Again, my bad as I assumed.

Said DVD left me with a bad taste in my mouth as did my opinon of the film (which ironically is playing in the background as I type. One can call it "inspiration"). I admit, my expectations might have been too high...I was a faithful Phantom Phan for years, particularly during it's long run here in LA, but with Sir Andrew involved, legit theatre people cast in key roles, you'd think it would be decent...sadly, not so much.


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