The 2004 Phantom of the Opera is Moody, Musical Fun
By Kristin Battestella
Nearly ten years ago, the long running stage production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera was brought to cinemas in full on spectacle fashion with this 2004 film adaptation. Although I was initially somewhat indifferent to this rendition thanks to my love for the 1925 and 1943 versions, it remains a fun, flashy, and rousing take for today’s audiences.
New Parisian opera owners Firmin (Ciaran Hinds) and Andre (Simon Callow) argue with their prima donna Carlotta Guidicelli (Minnie Driver) and lose the star on the night their new patron Raoul, the Viscount de Chagny (Patrick Wilson) is to attend. Fortunately, the elusive, unseen Ghost of the Opera known as The Phantom (Gerard Butler) has been training Christine Daae (Emmy Rossum), the orphaned dancer of a famous Swedish musician, how to sing the show’s operettas. Though she thinks of him as an angel of music, The Phantom is passionately obsessed with Christine and writes threatening letters to the new owners to ensure her placement over the appeased Carlotta in the upcoming productions. When Christine pleads with The Phantom to reveal himself, he takes her to his lair beneath the Opera Populaire, unbeknownst to all except ballet mistress Madame Giry (Miranda Richardson). Soon Christine is conflicted between The Phantom’s longing guidance and her engagement to her childhood friend Raoul. Scorned, deformed, and unloved, The Phantom demands his Don Juan opera be performed while he plots the destruction of all who stand between him and a new, beautiful life with Christine.
From Stage to Screen
Director Joel Schumacher (The Lost Boys, Batman Forever) co-wrote this 2004 adaptation along with producer Lloyd Webber (Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar) and naturally, The Phantom of the Opera closely adheres to the stage musical and not necessarily Gaston Leroux’s original 1911 novel. That alone may put off viewers here, as will the almost everything in song spectacle and decidedly Broadway structure. Things that could be simply said are instead unnecessarily embellished in song – sometimes at the expense of pace and plot. Numbers such as “Notes,” “Prima Donna,” and the start of “Masquerade” feel overlong and overdone in their lavishness and unfortunately stay away from the core love triangle for too long. By default, these have us itching for the titular happenings, yes, and this beat for beat, all music on stage and off is the point of this musical adaptation, of course – everything we see onscreen is meant to be one stage production after another with humor interspersed for brevity. However, this people breaking out in song for no good reason is why mainstream audiences have such extreme love or hate for musicals. Adding dance, spectacle, and goofy grins on top of this already misplaced measure is meant to make us enjoy the so grandiose as to bemuse, but it compromises the attempt at edgy, mass appeal filmmaking here. The Phantom of the Opera both doesn’t go far enough in its brooding and asks too much by remaining caught up in its own musical indulgence for nearly two and a half hours. The writing should have been tighter, with a streamlined tempo and much darker humor or played straight antagonism. Part of me wishes we just had this cast without the purely musical elements. I even suspect it would be an interesting silent movie-esque adventure to watch this on mute, for the performances are strong and emotional enough without the song.
Fortunately, some vocals also serve as narration in more popular, contemporary, music video styling. Surreal camera shots, reflections, dreamlike fog, candlelight, and sweeping tracking shots to start “Think of Me” and “Angel of Music” establish the fantasy while rhythmic intercutting between the stage performances, behind the scenes action, above drama, and below angst build intensity. Though atmospheric with an OId World feeling, the black and white opening and closing scenes, however, should have been just that, bookends. Briefly revisiting this time merely for neat transitions is a pointless interruption amid the rafter chases, deaths, taut suspense, and more action styled scenes. Having the tale locked in a flashback also makes another character’s flashback within confusing, and the age changes also fudge part of the timeline. Sure, it’s all elegant and pretty to behold, but these adornments clutter the narrative and become a hindrance to The Phantom of the Opera. Where the Silent Version is still demented, horror macabre and the 1943 Claude Rains delight provides a more traditional musical ingredient – the tunes come from the opera performances alone – to the disappointment of horror fans, this Phantom of the Opera isn’t scary at all. Certainly, this is a gothic piece with an under current of darkness, duality, layers, masks, and what goes on behind the curtain flair, and while it may be geared toward a teen audience, the black capes, white snow, and blood red lips provide sophistication and symbolism. We don’t necessarily label films the same as books, but this Phantom feels like the definition of paranormal romance. It’s meant for audiences who don’t normally like love stories, horror, or even musicals. Its saturated lavishness and visual delights detract from its flaws, but also attract the viewer into forgiving them – a lot like its eponymous ghost, actually. A fun, snowy sword fight over a girl and the switch in when the chandelier drops are smart cinematic changes ushering in a big, rousing film finale. Lloyd Webber may know a heck of a lot about putting on a darn good show, but he’s a bit too can’t see the forest for the trees when it came to adapting The Phantom of the Opera. Thankfully, Schumacher was indeed the right director for this piece, and overall, The Phantom of the Opera pulls off its movie adaptation thanks to what it does purely for film requirements away from its stage source.
Well then, let’s talk about Gerard Butler, shall we? Normally I require a minimum of stubble on him, but I like this clean-shaven and half face coverage, strange as that may sound. Yes, he needed more singing practice and his tone is uneven. However, I accept that his voice is not that of a trained virtuoso, for The Phantom has had no formal voice coaching in his underground lair, and who knows what those supposed nasal deformities could do to one’s sound. The Phantom’s voice is edgy; he’s an angry, mental dude, and this unpolished sound reflects the part of him we don’t see under the mask. Butler enters a half hour in ahead of “The Phantom of the Opera,” and its organ on acid mix of gothic fury and rock matches his style. This Phantom has a lot of cool, sexy swag and raw elements, and were he a debonair singer, it would seem out of character. He isn’t really the Angel of Music, so why should his voice be angelic? Of course, our deep and guttural singer also actually lives in the gutter and sings all but a dozen of his lines, and his groomed stalking of an orphaned teenager is skivvy, almost like pedophilia in plain sight creepy. He’s older and perhaps paternal, granted, but The Phantom is also very juvenile, plays with toys, equates music to love, and carries an entitlement chip on his shoulder along with some very underdeveloped social skills – seen most tragically in his brief “Masquerade” reprise. He’s also not that deformed, and it’s easy to look past his flawed face thanks to Butler’s desperation and passion in “The Music of the Night.” We understand how this lonely man’s attentions could blossom from something musical to all things saucy. His notes aren’t as big as the stage renditions of “The Music of the Night,” but we believe his music genius and the earnestness of this seductive plea. The Phantom’s holding up the radio ala Say Anything – how can Christine refuse? His entire lair reveal feels like a veiled sex scene placeholder: the way they go down the stairs, thru the tunnel, the black horse, his boat and the motion of the ocean, the opening of the gate, the high notes, the lyrics themselves, their caresses, and her fainting at seeing the bridal doll. What’s the boy been doing with a red satin, bird shaped, love nest bed and why are Christine’s newly sexed up stockings off when she wakes?
The Phantom of the Opera is of course set up in The Phantom’s favor, and we spend over ten minutes with his reveal and “The Music of the Night” compared to Raoul’s brief “Little Lotte” reminisce and dinner plans. Without a doubt, he has a violent streak and killer instinct, but does that automatically make The Phantom a monster? The audience feels more for his un-nurtured nature than fears his violence. Some of that is the aforementioned song over scares adaptation unevenness, sure, but we also see how everything The Phantom does is for Christine. It’s a twisted, unhealthy obsession and it’s ultimately about the compassion he wants from her, yet we don’t blame the weeping Phantom for his actions. While horror fans may despise this lack of menace or the danger as charisma that fan girls justify purely because of Butler, there is a whiff of social commentary from Leroux at play, particularly in the Red Death’s “Why So Silent?” interruption of “Masquerade.” The use of Poe’s pestilence itself is telling, a plague upon an exclusive, decadent host. Do these party patrons deserve The Phantom’s comeuppance? Did the outcast circumstances alone make him the way he is? We leave the misunderstood on the fringes of society and then wonder why they snap. All The Phantom wants is some love! Isn’t that proof that he is not without redemption for his crimes? Die hard fans of the stage production may dislike Butler’s good girls like bad boys Hollywood take, but for those new to The Phantom of the Opera, he’s easy to love. Maybe The Phantom is Christine’s Angel of Music after all – an innocent incarnation maturing from, as George Michael says, “father figure, preacher, teacher,” to her dark Phantom lover and “anything you had in mind.” I’m surprised Butler only became a cult favorite and international phenomenon rather than a stateside top of the box office superstar with this film, and I do pick on Gerry a lot thanks to some of his stinky romantic comedies. Honestly, most of his films do fall into the guilty pleasure category. However, anyone who thinks he can’t act or at the very least bring it to a role should see these pre-300 films such as The Phantom of the Opera and Dear Frankie. By time we get to “The Point of No Return” one can’t help but think damn he’s good!
Christine and Raoul
Certainly, I can forgive the soft focus and candle glow on Emmy Rossum (Shameless) as The Phantom’s protégé Christine Daae because it works wonderfully with her swept up, innocent, and angelic dreamscapes in The Phantom of the Opera. Christine begins the tale as an orphaned, small dancer in the opera repertory, but her “Think of Me” big voice potential and childlike belief in an “Angel of Music” sent by her late, famed father – seen in portraits as Ramin Karimloo, the West End Phantom – soon develop into a larger presence and much more scandalous relationship. Despite our apprehensions about The Phantom, Christine is seduced by the very idea of him. She is the one who insists upon his reveal – for all we know, The Phantom wasn’t going to make his romantic case until her insistence after Raoul came swooping in as the competition. Christine’s love and tenderness could be good for The Phantom, right? She pities him, he inspires her, and the pair feels more Beauty and the Beast than they do threatening. Of course, Christine dresses more sexy and grown up as The Phantom of the Opera progresses, from big and grand white gowns to close but bound corsets, saucy stockings, pushed up bodices, symbolic black, and ultimately, barefoot and lacy senorita reds. Emmy’s hair is exceptional I must say, and this costuming adds to the enchantment. Again, fans of the stage performances may dislike Rossum’s youthful, not always emotive approach and most of her role is in song. However, her mournful, conflicting feelings in “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” and “Wandering Child” come across with some great bedroom eyes, and a few ecstatic, even near orgasmic looks over The Phantom’s singing are both amusing and rousing. She does care for The Phantom, and Emmy perfectly conveys the heavenly, willing to love opportunity. Unfortunately, his violence and prepubescent mine mine mine drives Christine to the ultimate just friends condemnation and mongoloid hatred just like everyone else. Christine is caught up in his passion and volatile, and though this back and forth fear feels hollow to the viewer because The Phantom is never presented as scary to us, her pain is apparent thanks to his increasingly dangerous demands.
Of course, the younger ages are again a little kinky, and the teenage angst might be too wishy washy for the older, more cultured theatre audience. Christine runs to the cool, snowy rooftop to escape The Phantom, but he is already there. Whoops! For one so supposedly enamored with Raoul, she doesn’t notice when he leaves during “Why So Silent?” nor does she wake him before going to the cemetery. Her relationship with him seems the stagnant, chaste, platonic affair of their childhood while its The Phantom’s passionate voice that turns her on. Several frames before “The Phantom of the Opera” imply a halo on her head and a pseudo bridal procession, as if she was innocent and intact before “The Music of the Night” but deflowered by the experience. She pulls her lace sleeves up when singing to Raoul in “The Point of No Return” but lets them fall off her shoulders when up close and personal with The Phantom for the next verse. We understand her predicament, but Christine is indeed culpable for her own for love or money choice. She’ll get her kicks with The Phantom, sure, but why would she marry him when Raoul’s countess opportunities await? Her cruel public removal of The Phantom’s mask feels almost like a face shaming, as if he has the audacity to think she would choose an ugly underground life with him. The Phantom asks Raoul if he thought he would hurt Christine, but both men seem played by her. Was The Phantom truly first but dismissed at the altar? Did Raoul spend his life in the shadow of The Phantom’s passion? Christine ditches The Phantom but wears his wedding dress anyway, and all the while she’s supposed to be scared of him? For someone supposedly so uninterested, she certainly gives him a few darn good kisses!
If The Phantom of the Opera is set up in its eponymous antagonist’s favor, that makes things troublesome for Patrick Wilson (Angels in America) as Raoul, the Opera Populaire’s debonair, young, rich patron. He’s Christine’s childhood friend turned sweetheart, but their relationship is simply not as well developed as The Phantom’s seduction. Raoul even dismisses the idea of Christine’s “Angel of Music” in “Why Have You Brought Me Here?” and takes too long to believe The Phantom is real, almost not until their swordfight. Christine shouldn’t have to sing her “All I Ask of You” plea to Raoul –especially after The Phantom is heard in the opera house and kills during “Poor Fool He Makes Me Laugh.” Their puppy love seems forced and reintroduced in each scene they have together – which feels like a lot less than her time with The Phantom. Scandalous suggestions that they are lovers is heard from others in “Notes” and “Prima Donna” but not seen, and this final angle of The Phantom of the Opera’s love triangle feels more like a fifth wheel love that may or may not last. The Phantom may be too intense, but what does Raoul really do to sway Christine? Again, his “I’m real, he is not” argument feels devoid to the audience because we know it’s invalid, nay, Raoul even seems like a jerk when he says Christine is free and safe from The Phantom because we can see he is right there with them. Wilson certainly has an easy, effortless voice, but we hardly hear it. Raoul is the nice, safe choice for Christine and we need his man versus man conflict in The Phantom of the Opera along with his potential. He and Christine can advance and grow together – unlike The Phantom, whose love and genius is childlike and stunted by his early abandonment. He wants “All I Ask of You” sung to him, but instead The Phantom must witness Christine and Raoul’s love in another semi-sex scene. Where “The Music of The Night” is more like a drunken, heady make out that you aren’t sure if you remember or regret, “All I Ask of You” has Christine in a red cape upon the snowy high, asking Raoul if she loves her. He answers, “You know I do,” in a “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” quickie. The exit goes behind closed doors and several months pass before “Masquerade,” but Christine and Raoul are immediately secretly engaged onscreen while The Phantom was left subtextually crushing rosebuds. He’s upfront about his passion while Raoul represents social opportunity, and the viewer is caught up in where the competition goes next. Even the shocked, tearful Raoul appears to think Christine has chosen The Phantom in “The Point of No Return.” Christine shows such passion with The Phantom before the entire company while his engagement to her went undisclosed. How can Raoul – the titled, fresh faced boy hero on the white horse – save Christine from The Phantom and his tricked out opera house? He fences while The Phantom swishes his cape thru fire and Raoul almost appears to want Christine more just because he wants to win. He sits in the opera box with the police and orchestrates a trap for The Phantom, using Christine to do so regardless of her safety or what she and The Phantom may mean to each other. Raoul will be a count and has the means to marry Christine and leave the Opera Populaire, but they don’t do so when they have the chance. Instead, it is The Phantom’s ‘if you love something, set it free’ revelation that makes Raoul the hero. The Phantom of the Opera makes for a very interesting study of the entire triumvirate, and Wilson fills the role that needs to be filled – but he isn’t given all the support Raoul needs. Like the criticism on his co-stars’ singing, I don’t think Raoul deserves a lot of the hate he receives, but with less screen time and overt romance, he simply seems too wimpy to best The Phantom.
Fortunately, The Phantom of the Opera has a fun supporting cast, even if they are both over and under used. Minnie Driver (Good Will Hunting) is a diva in the truest sense of the word with an over the top Italian wink at the expected opera stylings as “Prima Donna” Carlotta. It’s easy for audiences to be amused at her parody thanks to some wild feathers, furs, and gaudy colors – her design is in keeping with the stage show panache whilst standing out along with her clashing antagonism. New opera owners Ciaran Hinds (Rome) and Simon Callow (Shakespeare in Love) also add humor with their toeing the line of incompetence as the Opera Ghost who isn’t a ghost at all demands a theatre salary from them with his letter writing campaign. “Prima Donna” is fun for the ensemble, and the comedy routines away from The Phantom do help ease what might be difficult romance and musical stylings for non-Broadway audiences. But again, it’s all a bit much and too audacious compared to any Phantom suspense. Thankfully, Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow) is intriguingly subdued and knows more than she’s saying as Madame Giry. Those bookends and flashbacks don’t quite clarify her history, confuse character ages, and don’t do justice on how much she’s really involved. She says Christine is like a daughter to her, but does that make The Phantom her problem child? A non-singing conversation of explanation would have been welcomed, and likewise, Jennifer Ellison (Brookside) as Madame Giry’s daughter Meg remains the meek best friend and an unheeded Cassandra. She’s always dressed like a fragile little girl or ballerina in a jewelry box and calls out each time The Phantom makes his appearance, yet her scenes are otherwise silent with only simmering scoring – as if she is curious about The Phantom but not quite ready to awaken to love like Christine. Meg disappears or reappears from The Phantom of the Opera as needed, and it’s a pity we don’t get enough mother/daughter dynamics with her or more interesting dialogue with Christine. In film mode, the audience needs this sort of bounce off player to which we can relate instead of on the nose routines for the sake of it like “Masquerade.” These numbers and their grandeur work on the stage, but the dimmed palette in contrast to the Red Death here needn’t be so obvious onscreen – especially when thinly drawn support and its talented players are ripe for development. The company celebrates the hidden and the disguise in “Masquerade” and thus insults The Phantom in his house before pursuing him in “Track This Murderer Down.” If he’s been doing these ghostly goings-on for three years, why didn’t anyone seek him sooner? Leave some supplies on the steps, invite him upstairs, put him to an instrument and you know, be kind. Wise cinemagoers get the bungling, humorous antagonist cliché, so we’re glad when The Phantom makes that threatening “Why So Silent?” entrance and steals the steamy show in “The Point of No Return.” If you’re going to have this fine ensemble, give them their due before the spectacle and give their actions for or against The Phantom some real meaning beyond stereotypical filler.
Some seemingly lecherous aspects of the behind the curtain repertoire are also suggested just enough rather than fully explored. Stagehand Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean) skeeves after the ballet company and proves creepier than anything we thought of The Phantom. What kinds of sexual trades, favors, and abuses most likely went on at the opera in those days? Is The Phantom saving Christine from such services? Is this why the company suspects she and Raoul – the opera house patron – are already lovers? Firmin and Andre go arm in arm with two young dancers who are overheard talking about how rich the former scrap mental entrepreneurs must be. Are the lowers rungs of the Opera Populaire ambitious or pimped out and abused by others? Madame Giry is even dressed up as a geisha while Meg costumes as a swan. Is “Madame” Giry the hostess or something more – did she or the owners protect or pimp their repertory? Surely the viewer is expected to understand the adulterous plot of “Il Muto” goes down on stage and off, right? While The Phantom of the Opera debates whether The Phantom is angel or demon, subtle religious positions are also implied about the ensemble. Meg and Raoul can be seen wearing crosses when they wear white, and the cross on the Daae crypt glows red during The Phantom’s deception in “Wandering Child.” Though often wearing black, Madame Giry is also seen with a cross, suggesting she is nunned or at the very least reformed for her part. Is she giving Christine to The Phantom so she can save or prospect her own daughter? Again, these secondary layers and complexities would have better served the film version of The Phantom of the Opera rather than the company’s over long, filler music.
The Phantom of the Opera may unevenly place its spectacle above all else, but it does indeed look smashing! Liberties taken away from the stage create embellishment and improvements that couldn’t be done in the theatre. Antique sepia tones and black and white patinas give The Phantom of the Opera proper period mood, and great feathers, gold, sparkle, and colorful jewel tones accent the 1870 Paris authentic but no less fairy tale costuming delights. Gas lamps, tinted, near whimsical and magical lighting, and lots and lots of candles add dimension and establish the high and low differences between the lavish of the theatrics at front, the hurried of the stage behind, and the dungeon-esque danger below. Despite being mostly interiors or obvious sound stages made to look outside snowy, the set dressings look good thanks to great depth, mirrors, smoke, and waterworks. The Phantom of the Opera may be to beholden to being its stage predecessor on film, but this traditional presentation is a lot better than the desperate, sweeping CGI seen in Sweeney Todd. So what if we can occasionally see some of the indie filmmaking small-scale short cuts and The Phantom’s deformity and make up design changes from grotesque to not so bad and even handsome or sexy as needed. When the audience sees something so nice everywhere we look, then we can forgive these minor, or in some cases, deliberate flaws. The Dracula-esque carriage ride and cemetery dressings add melancholy elements while the red, darkening Don Juan presentation amid “The Point of No Return” provides airs of Dante and I must say, the “Satan’s Alley” number in Staying Alive. One wants to take the trip to The Phantom’s lair even as the subterranean waters turn sour and sickly green. Great single shots, pretty still images, and fine attention to detail anchor painting like frames – ironically, The Phantom of the Opera almost suffers from too much of a good thing in its over produced intentions. Where these theatrics work for a show where the seated audience must remain captivated, a film shouldn’t have to go as far as The Phantom of the Opera does with its spectacle. All the film within a film and opera behind the scenes themes are already at work without the extra flashbacks and showmanship on top.
Art Direction, Cinematography, and Original Song Oscar nominations came calling for The Phantom of the Opera, along with more critics associations awards, international acclaim, and Breakout hardware for Emmy Rossum. Though stage Carlotta Margaret Preece appears briefly in The Phantom of the Opera and her dubbing over Minnie Driver’s vocals is often apparent and other audio and visuals sometimes seem out of sync, Driver does sing beautifully on the “Learn to Be Lonely” original. I did speak ill of the mismatched boards to film musical aspects, but the tunes themselves and the corresponding underscore are dang catchy and stick in your head even if you don’t prefer big songs, Broadway styled orchestration, or show tunes arraignments. We can’t quite sing along with the high notes, but there is a modern, less operatic rhythm to “The Phantom of the Opera.” It’s edgy, with a trace of eighties power balladry. Of course, the Halloweenish organ is reminiscent of Bach, and one must also not think of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” rift in order to enjoy the titular track, for they do indeed sound that much alike. Without subtitles, it would also be tough to understand when everyone is singing on top of each other, particularly with the booming music in the “Final Lair” sequence. How is one to appreciate the argument when we can’t hear all that’s being said? Fortunately, there’s no mistaking the climactic “Don Juan” and “The Point of No Return.” The duet here plays like another scandalous sex scene thanks to ascending stairs, rising octaves, and illicit lyrics. At this point, the audience in the Opera Populaire and us viewers aren’t sure where the plot of “Don Juan” ends and The Phantom and Christine begins, but we know the rising crescendos are coming to a head – or a chandelier drop.
I Do Like It, I Do!
While the affordable single DVD edition of The Phantom of the Opera contains no major features, the reasonable 2 Disc Special Edition and Blu-ray releases do contain several hours of intriguing documentaries on the stage genesis and film production along with the inexplicably deleted “No One Would Listen” scene. Today we’re spoiled in expecting B rolls and hours upon hours of extra content, but remember, this was also the era of both ‘Full Screen’ (Why? Why?!) and ‘Widescreen’ video releases. Since The Phantom of the Opera’s anniversary is coming up next year, it might be nice to see a new release with digital copy, sound remixing, and some commentary tracks or retrospectives. Sadly, I’ve seen no information for such a re-issue. Perhaps I’ve been back and forth, wishy washy, and windblown in discussing The Phantom of the Opera. I do like it, I really do, and I tend to watch it two or three times in a row whenever I see it before listening to the soundtrack a few times more when the songs are stuck in my head. However, my critical mind also notices and notices and notices the ‘I see what you did there’ ad nauseum here. The Phantom of the Opera itself never quite makes up its mind whether it is going to be a video of the stage production with a weaker singing Hollywood cast or if it is going to be a lavish film structured with song and stage show elements. Had the full on musical configuration been toned down, this could have had an even broader appeal. With a clipped abundance on production and a tighter polish on it all, who knows what kind of long lasting critical glory and greater awards acclaim The Phantom of the Opera might have had. Of course, Lloyd Webber knew he didn’t have to compromise much to make a successful picture, and this is still quite a popular film with crossover cult love and enduring international appeal. The Phantom of the Opera doesn’t feel garish or turn of the millennium dated like other hit or miss attempts in the nu-musicals resurgence. Some audiences find the over production a fault, others hate the music over horror altogether, while more can’t abide Butler as The Phantom much less his inferior singing. Either way, there are chicks out there asking him to sign their Phantom of the Opera thigh tattoos! I’m not a major romance fan by any means, but I don’t think it is a slight to call this edition and its loveable, misunderstood Phantom and near fairy tale charm a precursor to the paranormal romance audience and PG-13 Twilight crowd. Where I can’t abide how the sparkle vamps have defanged old school scary vampires, I can see room for Lon Chaney’s frights and this romanticized Phantom of the Opera. Not everyone will like this film – most mainstream, non-musical audiences probably will not. There is however, a moody, musical niche for this Phantom of the Opera, and fans of the cast, lovers of gothic romance, musical viewers, and Phantom completists must see the brooding spectacle here.