Friday, December 17, 2004

The Phantom of the Opera

To prefix The Phantom of the Opera with the chillingly exacting qualifier ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber’s’ is not a good start for the ‘lavish film production of the smash hit west end snore’, but it is particularly difficult to articulate the a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e g-a-r-b-a-g-e the film turns out to be.

Of course, I should have known, I’ve seen Starlight Express, but with a clear blue print in Moulin Rouge, it surely isn’t that difficult to produce a modern musical film which is, at least, a decent waste of time.

Minnie Driver’s histrionics as diva Carlotta and Jennifer Ellison’s girly charm aside, the entire cast have been painted grey, unlike La Rouge which is spectacular in pace, rich in colours and bold in characters.

Most unforgivable is the appalling technical production – the dubbing and sounding mixing makes the songs flat and distant. The signature song – The Phantom of the Opera – should be a journey of horror, love, lust and beauty taken by the virginal soprano Christine into the menacing Phantom’s lair. Whilst the rest of the orchestration is classical, this song switches to a vague mid paced electroclash soundtrack which reaches its crescendo with a god awful pomp rock guitar solo. I found myself involuntarily crying ‘Oh God no’ at every agonising turn.

The director can’t decide whether the narrative should be played through song alone or with a mixture of speech included. It switches between the two approaches throughout finally deciding, wrongly, that the whole thing should be done sung. The story gets lost (you can’t hear the lyrics) and the supposedly touching, tender moments are more painful than having your testicles pulled. It makes you prey for double DVD box sets of extended versions of Scooby Doo 2 and Barbed Wire for Christmas.


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