Pros: COSTUMES, LIGHTING, CINEMATOGRAPHY, MUSIC, DECENT ACTING/SINGING
Cons: PATRICK WILSON, CHANGES IN MUSIC/LYRICS (SOME HORRIBLE)
It took me a while to decide to right a review for this movie mainly because of the explosion of contradictory opinions regarding the film. Not only does everyone hate/love the actors but also the singing, sets, direction & effects.
I am not afraid to admit I am an avid Phan. Since Michael & Sarah invaded our lives with their tortured renditions, I have held this musical close to my heart. As a result, I have been able to appreciate the talent of tenor/soprano voices. This is where my opinion commences:
I have read most reviews for this film including those in major magazines & newspapers, movie websites, chat forums & the official movie site. The first gripe that critics are vehement about is the vocal talent on the screen version. Many say that the vocals are lackluster and the original theater cast remains insurmountable. Well, Im sorry to say that this is not so
1. Sarah Brightman (Original) VS. Emmy Rossum (New)Sarah Brightmans voice is something that will never be surpassed. The purity & clarity are meant to reflect what is in Christines soul. An innocence should be evoked. Sarah only lacked the ability to annunciate her words clearly. Emmy Rossum failed in the vocal pitch quality. This was shocking to me because she was trained as an opera singer and sang for the Metropolitan Opera. True, she does hit some high notes but she is unable to sustain her vibratos and tends to turn from a throaty mezzo-soprano in the higher registers to a pop voice. The only thing that vindicates Emmy is her childish aura & near-perfect pronunciation of words. She is so fragile & petite with those big sparkling brown eyes that, combined with her skilled acting, is often a believable Christine. Overall, Emmy is a satisfactory choice. Her charisma and innocence make up for her average vocal skills.
2. Michael Crawford (Original) VS. Gerard Butler (New)This is the topic that has sent the Phantom Phan community ablaze. I will start by saying that I am knowledgeable in the realm of voice from opera to pop (a useless talent) so I am definitely no stranger to different musical genres. Michael Crawford possessed a decent voice but the one thing that prevented me from fully embracing his abilities was the nasal timbre in his voice when he reached the high registers. It was too forced but he was able to sustain the note. Of course, even with this defect, his presence was magnetic only on stage.
As for Gerard, I do admit that the man is devastatingly beautiful. Andrew L. Webber knew how to make the ladies swoon in this aspect but this does not conclude his talents Gerard exudes a sexual, but sympathetic predatory nature that Michael Crawford never had. This does not only originate from Gerards hunk-like appearance alone but also from his sensual gaze & hypnotic body language. His voice is rich and deep with no metallic pitch that hurts the ears. At tense moments, Gerards voice turns into a fierce stab of fury that does not dissipate quickly. The quieter moments of his songs are marked by his unique whimpers of pain & sorrow that give us the Pitiful Creature of Darkness we have all come to adore.
Now to the negative side of Gerards Voice There were a few moments when you can clearly hear that he is singing off key but it is not something to get up in arms about. It happens very briefly & seeing that he has no prior professional vocal training, the man is not going to be the new Caruso with some weeks of training.
Overall, Gerards acting is captivating & fierce. Critics are so bent on debasing his performance because of his appearance that they fail to appreciate his signature style & grace. Bravo, Gerard! I think the critics are jealous because who would have thought that Scotland would offer us this acting gem instead of England (Michael Crawford), Spain (Antonio Banderas), Australia (Hugh Jackman) & USA (John Travolta/Robert Redford). FYI, these actors were among the choices for the lead role for the film and I must point out that Hugh Jackman would have made an excellent choice for Raoul. My reason will be noted when I discuss Patrick Wilsons portrayal of Raoul.
Patrick Wilson (Raoul) does not have the charisma that is required for his role. His voice (not even a tenor) & acting are bland, making his performance forgettable. It makes me wonder why Christine would even think of choosing Wilsons dull Raoul instead of the dashing hero that another actor could have made of the role! Wilson does possess the sweet boyish face but it is not enough to keep him afloat in this phenomenal production of pure talent.
The rest of the supporting cast is marked by average performances so I am really not compelled to discuss their performances except for Minnie Driver (Carlotta) & Miranda Richardson (Madame Giry). Driver has gone beyond our notion of a diva for her role. Yes, it does seem like a ridiculous & over-the-top performance at first but then I came to realize that this is the essence of Carlotta. She is the comic relief of the film along with her beloved Piangi.
Miranda Richardson (Madame Giry) gives a decent performance. Her French accent is absolutely flawless and her no-frills authority shines through.
The costumes, sets & lighting are all dazzling. I must say that I have never seen such an exquisitely startling feast for the eyes. My jaw dropped during several scenes & here are some remarkable moments in the film:
Opening Chandelier SceneThe Chandelier arises and is placed in the center of the Opera House which transforms into the rich, gilded spectacle it once was.
Think of MeThe lighting enhances Christines entire costume during her first aria and the screen is illuminated with her youthful purity.
Decent Into His LairDo not look away once Christine & the Phantom join in song. Every turn & shadow becomes a cinematic masterpiece.
Music of The NightThe lighting in the final moments of this song make the moment almost surreal. It is like a fresh painting. Youll know what Im talking about when you see it. **Piece of Trivia (Movie Mistake)Notice Christines garter stockings before she is placed on the bed & after Where did they go?? **
Entire Il Muto Sequence
Stunning Phantom Roof ScenePersonally, this is my favorite scene of all. From the moment the Phantom appears from the shadows to the fury that arises from his betrayal. Butlers genuine tears transform him into a heart-wrenching soul onscreen. His final raging note is punctuated be the amazing swirls of his cape in the wind and the camera swoops down the opera house.
MasqueradeAn orgy of drinks, fashion, jewelry & celebration.
Raouls ChaseAn absolutely stunning piece of cinematography where Raoul is chasing after Christine on his horse through a vast wooded area. The blues & grays of the scenery make it mystically dreamy.
CemeteryOnce again the scenery prevails and the sword fight adds to the suspense.
Final SceneRaouls gift to his wife & his discovery at the tomb. A poignant end to a worthy film.
I highly recommend this film to those who are able to encompass the full array of talent that this cinematic piece has to offer. It is an escape into a mesmerizing fantasy. Dont just focus on one thing. This is the first mistake everyone makes. Look past the negative publicity caused by critics and enjoy a musical & cinematic masterpiece!
Remember, it was some of these same critics who thought Shawshank Redemption was a poor film. Whos sorry now???