Friday, September 27, 2013

Celebrate Musicals Week: Phantom of the Opera (2004) Review

*in bored tones*
"He's here.  The phantom of the opera."
~Meg Giry

It has come to my attention (brought, in fact, by the kind hand of a dear friend on Gmail chat last night) that I seem to possess a knack for what is termed "snarky bash."  What is this bash of the snark variety, you may ask?  (No.  You may not ask.  But I will tell you.)  Apparently it's a talent that enables one to write humorous movie reviews making fun of movies that deserve to be made fun of.  I am still trying to figure out whether this is a good thing or not.  (One doesn't necessarily want one's stamp on the blogging world to be one of Sarcasm and Satire, you know...)  If it is a good thing, I must say it puts a lot of pressure on me.  It is always difficult to measure up to what people expect of you, you know.  

However, if people have come to my review of POTO 2004 expecting good-humored jabs at a film that fell pretty flat (in my very 'umble opinion), then they have come to the right place.  I know there are some POTO 2004 fans out there (yes, I just spelled that with an F) who may be reading this post and getting their dandruff up even now, and I just want to say from the start that it is not my intention to offend anyone, blah blah blah, you're entitled to your opinions and I'm allowed to have mine, et cetera et cetera et cetera... (I do believe the Phantom phandom is much more aggressive when it comes to Opinions and whatnot than other fandoms in general-- the Mizzers, for instance, tend to be much more accepting of others' viewpoints and ships and all that.  Just an observation.  Not that the phans are mean.  Just that they tend to be more... verbal.)

So I always swore I would never watch this movie.  I mean, my first real interest in POTO came through Ally's blog, and she is a vehement member of the POTO 2004 Disapproval Club.  So, after reading her opinions on how the filmmakers pretty much ruined the musical in their adaptation, I decided I didn't want to see it.  Ever.  Then I got more and more engrossed in POTO in general, watched the 25th Anniversary recording... um... a lot of times... and finally became a full-fledged Phan.  In the meantime, I managed to get Melody hooked on the 25th Anniversary, and it became Our Second Special Musical of sorts (our First being My Fair Lady).  She had previously seen most of POTO 2004 with her sister, before realizing that there was such a thing as the stage play (and that it was SO much better), and one day she suggested we watch it together for the fun of laughing at it.  

Now, one of my biggest issues with POTO 2004 was the objectionable content found therein (it's rated PG-13, after all) but since Melody had seen it with her sister (who knew where to skip), she too knew where to skip, so we settled down over Skype one week (a three-day process, it turned out to be) to watch POTO 2004.

And this was pretty much my reaction.

(You do not know how long this I Love Lucy fan has been waiting to use that Ricky Ricardo gif for something.  And at last my wish comes true. This has truly made my night.)

Don't get me wrong-- there definitely WERE parts I liked.  But they made up about eight percent of the movie, all told, and the remaining ninety-two percent was pure claptrap.  Entertaining claptrap, of course.  I enjoyed myself immensely while watching it.  Whether or not this was because I was "with" Melody (as "with" as one can be over Skype) is not the question at stake.

Ahem.  Down to business.

As the film began, I started to think that perhaps the bad things I'd heard of Gerard Butler's Phantom were just overreactions.  He didn't really seem that bad... the singing in "Angel of Music" wasn't horrid, and though his "Phantom of the Opera" and "Music of the Night" left a lot to be desired, he wasn't the worst performer I'd ever seen in a musical.  But then "All I Ask of You (Reprise" rolled around, and things just plunged downhill after that, and I took it all back.  Because this guy was the worst.  Phantom.  EVER.  I mean no offense to Gerard Butler himself-- I'm sure he's a great actor and all that.  But he was not the Phantom.  

For starters, he just didn't sing properly.  I don't mean that he couldn't sing at all.  He could.  In fact, his "Music of the Night," while not to my taste, was not wounding to the ear.  His singing actually rather reminded me of Russell Crowe's in Les Mis-- rough and raspy around the edges and all right if you like that sort of thing, but certainly not the polished perfection that his character is supposed to be able to pull off.   I can kind of understand not casting a great singer (but a superb actor) as Javert, but the Phantom???? SERIOUSLY?  The Phantom is ALL ABOUT singing.  I mean, hello.  The guy's whole attraction for Christine lies in his VOICE.   Therefore, he needs to sound like a burst of light from heaven itself, not a muppet rasping into a garbage can.  He is her angel of music, not her Oscar the Grouch.

Besides which, his Phantom was just TOO creepy and stalker-ish.  I know the Phantom is supposed to be kind of creepy, but this was overdoing it.  The whole film in general was overly sensual and ickyful... as a (hopefully) mature eighteen-year-old, I didn't feel damaged by watching it or anything (especially considering that we skipped through several bits) but I would definitely not recommend this film to younger viewers.  

Well, actually, I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone at all.  Spoiler alert: that's kind of the message of this review.  In case you hadn't caught on yet.

As for Emmy Rossum as Miss Christine Daae... it's true, her voice is good.  She should know though, should she wish to excel, she has MUCH still to learn.  (Heeeeehee.  Sorry.  Couldn't resist.)  

To be honest, I think as an actress Emmy Rossum gives the strongest performance in the movie.  She really does have the potential to be good (er, did-- she's pretty successful now, nine years later, I believe) but she just wasn't quite right for the role at that time.  Her biggest flaw is being too young for the part (which totally isn't HER fault, of course, but the directors could easily have cast someone else).  At sixteen (while they were filming, anyway) she was at least five years younger than Christine is supposed to be, and quite frankly she makes the Phantom (and Raoul, for that matter) look like creepy pedophiles.  Gross.

Her voice, too, strikes me as being much too young and undeveloped.  She has a very pretty, crystalline quality to her singing (kind of reminiscent of Younger Sarah Brightman without the vibrato and scooping) but she doesn't sound rich and operatic enough to be a convincing Christine.  Sierra Boggess and Gina Beck do the best job of singing the way *I* think Christine ought to sound-- a maturing opera voice.  Though POTO is NOT an opera (you wouldn't believe how many people actually think it is...), it does revolve around opera, and Christine is an opera singer.  She's Adelina Patti, not Taylor Swift.

Oh, and you will find full-on pictures of Christine to be few and far between in this post, unfortunately, because one of my biggest issues with Emmy's Christine is her SEVERE lack of modesty.  Sheeeeeeeesh.  Some of her dresses make Marguerite's in TSP look like those of a Victorian spinster.

My thoughts on Patrick Wilson as Raoul-- UGH UGH UGH UGH UGH.  

Folks, if Steve Barton lit the flame of the idea that Raoul is an air-headed wimp with no personality, then Patrick Wilson took that flame, blew on it, fanned it and doused it with Pointless Acts of Idiotic Bravado juice.  (It's like gasoline, only more potent.)  His Raoul seriously had me in stitches.  The chin-length hair and general dandified appearance were bad enough ("insolent boy, the slave of fashion!" made total sense here) but his severe lack of facial expressions and random running-around-snowy-graveyards-with-a-sword and doing-Tarzan-leaps-into-a-flaming-orchestra pit were just the icing and chocolate chips on the cake.  (If the cake was made of Bad Characterization Decisions batter with a custard filling of This Guy Needs a Shampoo Pronto, that is.)  

His voice, however, though not particularly strange and spirit-filling, had a sweet sound, and I really can't complain about his "All I Ask of You" except to point out that it seemed really... flat.  Vocally it was fine.  Emotionally it was blah.  His Raoul just didn't seem to have much of a personality in general, except at spontaneous and unexpected moments in which he burst forth with a sudden flare of I Must Assert My Male Dominance and Smash Things With Anger.  Which is totally not the way Raoul is supposed to be.  

The rather blurry subtitle reads "The only character with a
French accent... in a French story!"

Miranda Richardson as Madame Giry is kind of weird.  I mean, I know Madame Giry's supposed to be a little Strange and Mysterious.  But this Mme. wasn't really Strange or Mysterious at all, or even slightly Spooky like Liz Robertson in the RAH version.  She was just kind of an oddball.  Popping up in random places to give Warnings about the Phantom and looking at people as if she were putting a spell on them or something.  And her French accent was just as out of place as Sacha Baron Cohen's in Les Mis.  Either everyone should be French or no one should be French.  You try my patience.  Make your choice.  

As for her daughter... well, Jennifer Ellison's Meg was completely bland and uninteresting.  Meg is supposed to prance around shrieking that the Phantom of the Opera is here, not whisper it in a blase manner that you half expect to be followed up with, "by the way, what's for lunch?"  We don't get any sense of her closeness to Christine and desire for Christine to be safe, because we don't get any sense of her character at all.  Not to mention, she rivaled Christine as far as low-necked costumes went.  (Which is why her picture is from Il Muto, because it's the only halfway decent one I could find.  Notice I say halfway.)  

Minnie Driver, while not my favorite Carlotta, was pretty hilarious.  Her singing during the movie is all dubbed, but her real voice can be heard in "Learn to be Lonely" during the credits.  She was very over-the-top and self-centered, which is great for Carlotta, but I felt her portrayal was a little too childish to be accurate.  Carlotta is a successful middle-aged diva who's willing to scream and storm when she doesn't get her way, but she isn't a two-year-old pouting and throwing tantrums.  (Yes, there's a difference.)

Ciaran Hinds and Simon Callow played Firmin and Andre, respectively.  Though it was pretty hysterical to see Captain Wentworth pomping about (it's the verb form of "pompous," you know) with a handlebar mustache in a purple Lord Fauntleroy getup, Simon Callow (whom I keep wanting to call Simon Cowell) was incredibly boring.  Well, his mustache was cool, but that was it.  Gareth Snook and Barry James are just the best managers ever, world without end, amen, and no one can match them.

Also, Firmin's masquerade costume (see above) was ridiculous.  The stupid kind, not the funny kind. ...Well, okay, it was a little funny.  

I'm not going to touch on every song here, but I will say that "Hannibal" was beyond awful (if you thought the costumes in the stage version were a bit risque, you should see the movie ones-- no, actually you shouldn't) and that "Think of Me," while very nice, was not particularly memorable.  Christine's dress, however (despite its less-than-ideal neckline) was GORGEOUS.  So much prettier than the circus tent from the stage version, even though it looks completely out of place in a musical that supposedly takes place in ancient Alexandria.   This gown was based on one worn by Empress Elisabeth of Austria (the two are side-by-side in the picture above) and I honestly can't decide which I like better.  (I'd raise the neck and shoulders on both, of course, if I were making replicas.  Which I'd love to do someday if I can acquire the funds and skills.)

"Come with me to my Lair, Christine, and I will teach you the
proper way to toast a marshmallow."
I'd like to be able to say something nice about "The Phantom of the Opera" (nah, just kidding, I don't really) but I'm afraid it was just really, really dumb.  It was like a bad horror movie-- trying way too hard to be spooky and chilling ("ooh, look, Phantom's Lair!  It's DARK and SCARY down here!") and succeeding only in being cringeworthy.  Not that I've actually ever seen a bad horror movie-- or any horror movie at all, for that matter.  Unless you count this one.


Christine's costume, too, annoyed me no end.  She was basically wearing a corset and drawers under the dressing gown.  *facepalm*  The dressing gown is supposed to go OVER your COSTUME to keep it CLEAN, peeps.  It's not a BATHROBE.  And her hair was just crazy in this sequence.  I did not like it at all.  (I didn't dislike it throughout the whole movie, though.  During "Masquerade" it was quite pretty.)  And the amount of eye makeup she had on would terrify a raccoon.  Yikes.

Plus, what was up with the random horse?  Does the Phantom just have a convenient horse stowed away in his lake for this opportune moment?  Or is it his special pet, and if so why doesn't it appear again?  Does it have a name?  Who feeds it and takes care of it?  Does Madame Giry have to do it?  Why does she have to do everything?  Has the horse ever bitten her, and if so, did the Phantom apologize to Mme. or did he bite the horse back to teach it a lesson?

So.  Many. Questions.

"Music of the Night" was so blah-slash-touchy-feely that it made me summarily uncomfortable and therefore we will skip over it and move right on to... Il Muto!

(Oh, but first I should say that "Notes" was rather a flop and that "Prima Donna" is unmemorable and indeed should probably be fast-forwarded, as there's a rather unsavory bit involving a crew member showing the audience what he thinks of Carlotta's behavior.)

"Il Muto," I must say, was pretty doggone funny.  Not as good as the 25th Anniversary one, of course, but then what is.  Carlotta's "Your part is silent.  Leetle toad," cracked Melody and me up into a bunch of giggling little pieces, and the little vignette of the Phantom tinkering with Carlotta's throat spray made her croaking later on a lot more believable.  (I'm not sure, however, if I don't just prefer it all to be a mystery-never-fully-explained.)

One thing I definitely think could have been left out was the scene in which Erik kills Buquet-- we totally did not need to see him being chased, terrified, through the rafters and finally strangled.  Yick.

 After the phenomenal performance Hadley Fraser and Sierra Boggess gave during 25th, pretty much any version of "All I Ask of You" will pale in comparison.  The one in the movie turned white as a sheet and threw up over the railing on the roof.  It was really gross.  So is the amount of nuzzling and caressing and what have you in this song.  I realize they were probably trying to be cute, but it came across like two high schoolers slurping at each other's faces in public.  Like I said.  Gross.  The singing wasn't half bad, and the little spin at the end was sweet (I'm a sucker for spins, as I said in my 25th anniversary review) but all in all this version of the song was flatter than a saxophonist's B.  (Yes, I used Wikipedia in order to make that joke.  Don't judge me.)

And the Phantom and his rose crouching behind that statue...  I think this was supposed to be sad, but there was too much snot mixed with tears for it to be sad.  It was, again, gross.  So was Gerard Butler's pathetic attempt at the "all that the Phantom asked of you" line.  This is where the singing really began to go downhill.

 Well, except for "Masquerade."  Because "Masquerade" is always epic no matter what.  I adore this song, and this version was really quite fun.  I loved seeing all the ballgowns and choreographed dancing-with-fans-- it felt much more authentic for the time period than the boisterious Mardi Gras of the stage version.  (Not that I don't love the stage version.)  This song always makes me feel happy and dance-ful, and this version was no exception.

I do think Raoul and Christine are kind of cute in this scene, though I don't understand why their little duet about the engagement had to be spoken.  It sounds stupid when it's spoken.  As for their costumes, Raoul's outfit is nothing spectacular, and his hair is laughable in this scene, but Christine's dress... sigh, I've been drooling over it since I first saw a picture on Ally's blog.  

I mean, seriously, LOOK at that SKIRT.  Wow.

The Phantom's entrance is anticlimactic somehow, and his Red Death costume (if indeed it's supposed to even BE the Red Death) is unimpressive.  I don't like how Raoul just runs off to desert Christine as soon as things start looking ugly (yes, I realize he was going to get his sword, but still... something could have happened to her while he was gone.  Duh).  As for Madame Giry's flashback immediately following, I like how it gives us some of the Phantom's backstory, but it seems really abrupt.  You don't even realize until she's done that she was talking to Raoul the whole time-- it sounds like she's just randomly reminiscing about Stuff, and if you didn't know the story you might be sitting there thinking, "who is this strange woman again?"

 "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"... hoooooo boy.  There are so many things wrong with this number.  Let's just a list a few.

~Christine leaving wherever-it-is at, like, five in the morning to go to who-knows-where, completely oblivious to the fact that the Phantom is driving her.  Whaaaaaaaaa?  How'd he know she was planning to go for a graveyard stroll?  Was he watching her through the mirror again? THAT'S JUST CREEPY.

~Raoul randomly waking up and seeing Christine leaving at, like, five in the morning for who-knows-where.  Naturally, he follows her at a full gallop on a white horse.  HERO SYMBOLISM.  Yeah, thanks, I don't need it shoved in my face like that. Plus, there's snow on the ground.  What is up with the open shirt?  Who wants to see that?  (Don't answer that question if your answer is going to annoy me.)

~Speaking of strange choices in clothing, what's up with Christine's dress?  Girl, do you even know that a neckline and a waistband are two different things?  What's the point of even wearing a cloak if half your upper body is still exposed to The Elements?  You should take some of the bottom of your dress and hang it around your neck where it can do some good.  Just a suggestion.

~Why, exactly, does Christine's father have the biggest monument in the cemetery?  If he were a rich and famous violinist as his crypt seems to suggest, why on earth was his daughter struggling along as a chorus girl taking free music lessons?

~WHY IS THERE A NEED FOR A RANDOM SWORD FIGHT?????  Sword fights are all well and good, but trying to pretend that Raoul is Sir Percy or Inigo Montoya is just not gonna fly, folks.

~Okay, fine, Christine getting Raoul to spare the Phantom's life is a nice touch, I guess, but did it strike no one else that his "now let it be war upon you BOTH" makes absolutely NO sense after that?  If she just saved his life, why would he suddenly be all, "thanks, but no thanks, I'M GOING TO MURDER YOUUUUUUUUUU"?

 Yeah.... I really don't like this movie.

We skipped "Point of No Return."  For obvious reasons.  Up until the moment when she pulls his mask off, of course.  That part is kind of important.

Or it would be if the disfigurement actually made him look, y'know, deformed.  Instead, as several people have put it, he looks like he got a bad sunburn or something.  It's really rather pathetic.  And not in a good way.

I'm still not sure what to think about the chandelier crash happening when it did.  On the one hand, it's really, really cool to see it actually plunge down and crash and set everything on fire.  (Not that I'm a pyromaniac or anything, but let's face it, Big Disasters in films can be fascinating.)  And it does make the sequence leading up to "Final Lair" very dramatic.  But I'm a stickler for Staying True to the Original, and as such I think I really prefer the way it happens in the stage version (at the end of Act One).

You probably know by now that I judge a POTO performance based majorly on how well they do "Final Lair." And this one is the worst ever.  From Raoul's whining and flailing around and his stringy hair flopping about (shallow complaint, I know, but it's so ugly) to Christine's sappy melodramatic "don't make me choooooooose" faces to the Phantom's prancing around with his ropes and maniacal laughter that somehow wasn't really scary at all... yeah, it was a flop.  A major, major flop.  The lines that are supposed to be sung in such a heartfelt way were either spoken or just kind of tossed out without much feeling.  And though The Kiss wasn't all that bad, all I could think of was, "She's SIXTEEN, for Pete's sake!  SIX!  TEEN!  THIS IS CREEPY AND GROSS!"

Which is why it's so difficult for me to admit that, um, I... cried at the end.


And then that rose on the gravestone?  That single red rose?  And the look on Old Raoul's face (still Patrick Wilson, by the way, under all that makeup) when he saw it and realized he wasn't the only one visiting Christine's grave?  Yup, I lost it again there, too.  And I really didn't want to.  Because I tend to cry over movies I love, y'know?  And I didn't love this movie.  At all.  I may have enjoyed the entertainment it gave me and the opportunity it presented to watch something with my Tween, but all in all it was a Miss-Dashwood-office bomb.

Yet I still cried at the end.  I'm not really sure why.  I think perhaps it had something to do with the way the story still "got" me, deep down inside, despite the lousy casting and less-than-perfect singing and ridiculously unnecessary elements that totally didn't need to be there.  It's still a tragically beautiful romance, and even a bad film can't kill that.

Don't get me started on musical-sequels, though.  Because they are another story altogether.  
...Though I may just have to watch Love Never Dies one of these days, if only to bring you your recommended daily dose of Snarky Bash.

In conclusion, I think Mary Poppins can best express what I thought of POTO 2004.

That woman is just practically perfect in every way, y'know?

And to end this review on a happy note, here's a gif of Aaron Tveit being a bunny.  Because a gif like that makes any post a good one.  Even if it's a post about the worst adaptation of POTO ever.  Because bunnies just make the world a happier place.


Melody said...

YAY. The long-awaited. Heehee.
*pulls up comment box*

Amy, Amy, Amy. Don't go indicating that people who consider themselves "fans" are people who like the movie or in general don't have the right... well, you know. They could be people like ME who don't LIKE the stupid "phan" thing.
Yes, I just called something you actually say stupid. I have no tact. I'm noted for that.

How many times HAVE you watched 25th? Actually watched? o.O I think I've actually only seen it three times. Plus random scenes here and there. (Coughcough AIAOY and Final Lair cough.) And a lotta listening. :D

Ha, that was not your reaction to the movie. This is all slightly exaggerated, folks. I'm a witness. :P
Ahh, I see, you just wanted to use that gif. I seeee. ;)

I'm not sure I could easily call Gerard Butler the worst phantom EVER... because I know so little of the others. :P But... yeah. Anyways. If you didn't have anything to compare it with (and if you hadn't heard Reports From Other People), though, it wouldn't be quiiite as bad. Trust me. (Raoul does not need to have good people to be compared to to seem like an idiot, however.)

Yeah, I remember your reaction to AIAOY Reprise though. "Oh. Come. ON." Haha. :D

A muppet rasping into a garbage can... OH. MY. GOODNESS. Hahahahaha. :D

Yesss, I do agree about the sensual and ickyful. Made me feel a bit squirmy sometimes and I was hoping you wouldn't be shocked and horrified that I got us watching any of it to begin with. Eh-heh.

I've heard from other people that she was 17 while filming... haha.

Weeeell, I don't quite agree with you there. Some of Marguerite's dresses do rival hers, I believe. It's just that it's slightly... different. Ha. (And even hers wasn't as bad as That One that Meg wore to the ball, ohmyword.)

None of your Raoul bashing could be too much for me, and that's the truth. BRING IT ON. Hahahaha. :D

I didn't think Meg was actually too bad in Angel of Music, but other than thaaat....

Ahem, forgive the un-punctuated outburst. :P

I TOLD you we might want to skip the costumes at the beginning. (At least we skipped the Weird, um, Dancing though.)

I remember thinking the POTO part the first time I watched it was just weeeeeird and I didn't like it and it made me feel awkward. :P

Well, if you recall, in 25th Christine DID take the skirt thing off when she put the dressing gown on. Haha. And is that really what it's for? I never knew that...

Yeah, I kind of forgot about the touchy-feely in MOTN... I'm sorry. :( I knew there were things LIKE that in the movie but I thought it was happening while PONR was being fast-forwarded (I mean, you kind of see some of stuff when it's being f-f, heh) but I think my memory was getting a bit mixed up.

But I DID have us know where to skip for the crew member. :P
And as for the rest of Prima Donna... I wouldn't call it unmemorable, because some of it was rawwwwthah weeeird... :P

Heehee, although the first time the 'leetle toad' cracked us up was... on our... laaast... niiiight...
Moving on.

Even 25th actually shows Buquet being chased in the rafters a bit, haha.

Slurping each other's faces... EWWWWW. That's horrid. ICK. Just... ugh. How could you even come up with such a dreadful phrase.
Why did I just repeat it.
I don't know.
The first time I saw the AIAOY scene I was soooo disappointed. I thought it was going to be really nice just from listening to it...

And it seriously seemed like the Phantom was singing to the rose. "And now how you've repaid me... denied me and betrayed me... so I shall crumble your petals with my black leather gloooove..."

Okay, so why I even BOTHER writing a whole comment and then seeing just for kicks if the HTML will be accepted, I hardly know... I should just click "publish" when I get halfway through your post and continue on. :P

Melody said...

Hello again! :P

No no, darlin', they could certainly have done something to make Masquerade un-epic. Like, if they'd hardly tried at all. I mean come on. They totally could have.
Especially without that diviiiine staircase... anyways.

I actually think his hair was BETTER during Masquerade, haha. I mean, it was tied back and not falling perfectly behind his ears, ew. :P

I love that dress too... althouuuugh, I'm not really too much of a fan of the bustle thingies. Just the fashion in general. I mean, think about it, they look like a couple of air pouches or something. :P Even though I think the dress is gorgeous and I would totally wear it anyways.

NO NO NO. I must correct you here, dearest. The version we watched on YouTube, if you recall, was just Clips... in general it was pretty thorough, but they cut out the bit where Raoul chased after Madame Giry and demanded that he tell her "for all our sakes!" because I was reading the lyrics or the script or SOMETHING that was supposed to be the movie I think and that WAS there--it just seemed like it was actually cut out, anyways. And remember how it cut out stuff at the end? We didn't see what happened once the search party got to the lair, and I had to find a completely different clip (not on the playlist) to see the graveside thing.

"Don't answer that question if your answer is going to annoy me."
Your hilarious, darling. But don't let it go to your head. ;P
And I guess I just also connected with that which is a big reason why it amused me so... ;D

It's so weird because she really does look so much older than sixteen. I thought before that she was eighteen and I thought she looked older than THAT.

Yep, everybody, she cried at the end. I testify. ;D (I couldn't see her, actually, because the dastardly Skype took away the video part, but I could hear it. Heehee.)
Shutting up.

Besides, its themes are... objectionable. :P

HAAAAAHAHAHA that clap...

I think in general I still might have liked this a teeny bit more than you... well, that is to say, I might not have hated as much as you did, hahaha... but pretty much, yep, you've got it. ;)

Maribeth B said...

Hey, Miss Dashwood! Loved your review--actually, I've been loving all your reviews--and they've come at the perfect time since I just saw the play live! Ohmygoodness it was so good.

Anyhooz, I think I have an explanation for the horse in the Phantom's lair. In the book (if I remember correctly, and I think I do), Erik uses the horse to take Christine part of the way to his home. He stole it from the theater. If you haven't read the book yet, you should. It's very good :)

Sarah said...

Please continue to add liberal doses of Sarcasm and Satire to all your reviews. They make for such an interesting read, especially the movie in questions deserves liberal doses of S. and S.
Thanks again for the wonderful review, though I did like some things about this movie (mainly Minnie Driver and Masquerade!) I'm afraid I have to agree with you on almost everything else. What a pity.
Signed, a highly amused and devoted Phan.

Miss Jane Bennet said...

Ooooh! Loved this review! I was giggling Very Hard...I've been looking for a review that makes fun of this movie since I watched it 'cause it was so hilariously bad. :D
(And by the way, I agree with Maribeth about the horse. In the book, he steals the finest horse in the stables and uses it to ride off with Christine.)
Ehehehe...I love the GIF. All of them. But especially that last one. :D

Indigo Montoya said...

Long comment coming through! Before I start though I just want to give you a great, big, massive THANK YOU for all of your hard work you've put in, the entertaining posts you've written, and the fun I've been able to have this week :D

Yes as Maribeth says the horse is a homage to the book. The Opera Garnier would keep horses for some of their productions, and in the book Erik steals one called Cesar and uses it to take Christine part of the way to the lair. The journey from Christine's mirror to the Phantom's lair is actually quite far. The scene where Raoul falls into a Hall of Mirrors in this film is a book homage as well.

There are certain things that I do enjoy about this film. I like about 10% of it. I like the book homages. I like that we see a little bit more of Old Raoul in this because the prologue with him as an old man has always felt boring and pointless to me in the stage version. I really like that the Phantom's magic tricks are explained. One of the common complaints about this film is that it takes away from the element of magic and mystery about the stage version by providing rational explanations for the Phantom's magic. But this is an improvement in my eyes! The Phantom is a man, he's not a ghost and he has no supernatural powers whatsoever. So how come he gets to do all this magical stuff in the stage version like making a piano play all by itself? If it's a trick then why would he go to all that trouble? That's a minor issue that I have with the stage version so I'm glad that that was fixed.

GB was so badly miscast in this film! How on earth could Christine think that GB's Phantom is the Angel of Music?! I'm not saying that Butler can't sing at all. For an untrained singer his voice is actually quite good. But you're right, he's not the Phantom. The Phantom is one of the biggest musical theatre roles of all time! It's right up there with Jean Valjean. It's really not a role that could go a competent singer, someone who's never sang professionally before but could be good once they've been trained up a bit. The role demands a truly great singer and GB isn't one.

Oh, how I wish that Anne Hathaway could have gotten the role of Christine like she wanted! Stupid Princess Diaries 2! She would have made for a far better Christine than ER! It's true that ER has a pretty voice but her acting is so bland and lifeless in this film.

Sorry, PW isn't one of my very favourite Raouls but he's still one of the few redeeming features about this film. OK he has a horrible, foppish wig and the swordfight and Tarzan leaps are silly but is that his fault?! I love his voice and I actually really like his acting in this! I think his AIAoY is actually quite lovely.

I love Christine's ToM costume in the stage version! I think it's gorgeous. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder : ) The dress in the film is very pretty but it's got nothing to do with ancient Rome. And it doesn't compare to the sheer gorgeousness of the Sissi dress in the Elisabeth musical : )

Oh you absolutely, positively have to review Love Never Dies! You could just review the cast album if you don't feel inclined to watch the DVD.

When it comes to POTO my favourite version is the Leroux novel. Then it's the ALW musical and then it's the Charles Dance miniseries/Yeston and Kopit musical (which are both on Youtube). It's quite different to the ALW musical because it's a looser adaptation of the book but I still really love it so I'd recommend it to you. These are my favourite things when it comes to POTO :)

Caroline L. said...

HEE HEE! I certainly CAN imagine how long you've been waiting to use the Ricky .gif! I have a few of those myself... just waaaaaiting for the perfect use. ;]

*rubs hands and settles in for some fun*

You know what? I'm starting to reallllly pity poor Nick Jonas! (but the jokes about him are still funny, I admit. Hehe)

Oh. OH! Okay, do you ever listen to those phantom comparison videos on Youtube where they take usually just one line and compare all sorts of different actors' takes on that one line? WEEEELLL. My dear, there is a worse phantom out there. SERIOUSLY. He sounds like a moustache-twirling villain from an old blackandwhite cartoon! My sister and I heard him in a comparison of "You will curse the day you did not do...." Can't remember his name, but yes. We very much enjoy imitating the worst phantom ever.

Hehehehe! The snark is FULL ON today, I see!

NOW. TO THE GOOD STUFF. Raoul!!! I've been waiting allll week long to make fun of the movie Raoul. can you NOT make fun of him? *rubs hands evilly*


*Caroline realizes that she is apparently VERY fond of rubbing her hands*

POINTLESS ACTS OF IDIOTIC BRAVADO JUICE!!! *nearly dies of laughter* YES! TEEHEE! That is precisely the perfect phrase to describe him. Yes, his hair and his seeming enjoyment of open collars and his ridiculous macho-ness were so laughably over the top! All the extra scenes they added to apparently make him more manly just made him look ridiculous!

I rather like that we get to see some of the canals under the opera house. That's kinda cool. And so is Erik's lair (although it does seem to be suspiciously well-lit for being underground).

Haha. Yep. Captain Wentworth, what are you doing?

Oooooh, well, to know what's up with the horse, you may just have to read the novel, Miss Dashwood!

Yes, Ill Muto is fairly good. I still enjoy saying in the Carlotta voice: "Why you keepa spraying my chin? Uh?"

UG. AIAOY. Ug. Yuck. I'm no Raoul-lover to begin with, but with the movie Raoul, I'm especially disgusted by all the lovey-doviness. I do, however, like the symbolism with the rose in this scene, and the fact that we can see the phantom is watching them and having his heart broken. This scene is actually my favorite of the phantom's. Not necessarily his "you will curse" line, but his general acting. (And I don't mind the snot. Lot's of my favorite people in movies have plenty of snot when they cry - EDDIE REDMAYNE.)

Raoul and Christine's spoken part of Masquerade is just hilarious. I don't quite know why, but my sister and I howl with laughter at it. So of course, we speak their lines to each other quite often for giggling purposes.

Ah. The deformed face. Flop. It looked its very worst when she first pulled off the mask, but, as I like to point out, Eriks face seems to very quickly and magically begin healing. And by the very end, why, he looks almost recovered! All this time, all his face needed was a little air-exposure!

HEE HEE! Okay... so, I quite enjoy the final lair. For Raoul-hilarity reasons. Especially the one part where he sort of chokes and makes a pained noise that so perfectly harmonizes with the music. *cackles*

I do enjoy some aspects of Gerard Butler's phantom. Yes, there are many problems with it (mainly directorial) and he doesn't have the voice. But some bits of his acting are wonderfully done. Perhaps I'm a bit biased b/c he was my first-and-a-half phantom. For many scenes of the story, he was the first phantom I had ever seen. Oh, and I like that he wears black leather gloves. Black leather gloves are my one weakness. ;]

I cried at the ending, too. You are not alone.

Again, the symbolism of the red rose. *SNIFF*

OH. NO. Don't watch Love Never Dies. I did. And I was sorry. Let me put it this way: LND makes POTO '04 look REEEEEALLY good.

Bravo. Bravisimo, Aaron. Excellent bunny work.

Ah, this was fun. Thank you for spreading your smiles and snark, Miss Dashwood.

Caroline L. said...

Oh, and one more thing. You might enjoy this. I certainly do!

Kiri Liz said...

"Come with me to my Lair, Christine, and I will teach you the proper way to toast a marshmallow." BAHAHAHAHA!!!

Actually, I think you summed up this movie very nicely, Amy, and I cannot think of any other way I'd review it myself. Other than having a majority of the songs memorized from my mom owning piano music and my parents singing it nearly every day, I always felt myself rather smart when it came to POTO stuff. And... then we watched the movie. An acquaintance of ours absolutely loved it, and insisted we had to watch it, so we did. And with no sparing on the fast forward button, I can assure you. IT WAS AWFUL!!

After that trying experience, I told myself I disliked POTO and made other musicals much more enjoyable (i.e. MFL, Oklahoma, Sound of Music, BatB, Les Mis). I've never really considered myself a Phan. Nope. But, now I feel hopelessly biased as I'm basing most of my dislike on the 2004 film. Amy, I think you're converting me. Yes, I am holding you to blame, but do not despair. I shall endeavor to find a REAL POTO (preferrably the one with Hadley Fraser, Sierra Boggess, and Ramin Karimloo in it) and see if my opinion changes. I cannot, after all, resist a good musical. I think that's what really drew me in to Les Mis.

Alexandra said...


Loved it. LOVED IT.

First of...he IS the worst. Ever. Ever. Ever. And his Music of the Night is the WORST. Becauuuuuuuuuse, as you said, he is supposed to be The Most Amazing Singer Ever. I don't mind Javert because nowhere does it say that Javert has the voice of an angel. If they had I would have had much more of an issue with Russell Crowe. Gerard Butler *is* a good actor...a very good actor, in fact. He just is NOT a good Phantom.

Emmy would be a lot better Christine if she played her, like, NOW. Today. Not when she was sixteen (yes, she was sixteen at the beginning of filming, eighteen by the time it came out). And it ought to be illegal to put a sixteen-year-old in gowns that lowcut. Or have them kiss guys twice their age. At least wait till they're twenty-six, people. Gah.

I'm not a total Patrick Wilson *hater*, but he's pretty much the worst Raoul. Well, unless Nick Jonas ever takes a stab at the role. But yes.

Madame Giry and Meg...yes, yes, yes, yes. I kinda liked Carlotta...she was very stereotypical opera diva, which I think was what they were trying to go for there. Except that you could never *like* her at all. It was SO weird to see Cirian Hinds and Simon Callow after Persuasion and A Room With a View...LOL. They were pretty lame (and ogling the ballet girls...REALLY?!).

To make a Think of Me gown that you can wear would cost around $1,500, roughly. Don't ask me how I know this. Also it's really not that hard to make. Just sayin'.

AND YES. The dressing gown is to COVER THE COSTUME or wear between changes. It's not freaking lingerie. Goshhhhhhh, people.

Music of the Night was CREEPY. And it's normally my favorite song. It was like, CREEPY CREEPY PEDOPHILE VIBES GOING, BLAHHHHHHH.

Il Muto was funny, and yes, All I Ask of You was a little flat (although...I've gotta admit...I love the kiss. Kill me now. :P) But the reprise...if you're trying to make me feel bad, you reallllly failed.

Masquerade was awesome...and I have the pattern for that dress. Just sayin'. :) But the Red Death was AWFUL. Also awful is that the UK tour changed the costumes a bit, so now the Red Death tour costume is LIKE THE MOVIE. MAJOR FAIIIIIIIIL!!!!!


YESYESYES. "Let me wrap my head and wear a cloak and have a loooong black dress. And have practically nothing on top. Also have a Mysterious Driver and a Fiance That Knows That I Am Going to Be Up At Five." Does this not smack a bit of Twilight? I mean, really?

Raoul is NOT Sir Percy. The end.

PONR was complete and total TRAVESTY.

And the sunburn was the most RIDICULOUS thing I have EVER seen in my LIFE.

I love the concept of the crash and how it makes the whole last scene so chaotic and stuff. I can't argue with that...if you're going to change anything, it was a good choice. But I would rather they had kept it before.

Final Lair was such a flop, and the kiss was so anticlimatic. But yes...I still cried at the end.

Also, I'm not sure I was so happy with the fact that they explained away all the mysteries...the mirror in the dressing room and how he disappeared and Carlotta's throat spray.

All in all, such a flop. But ALW really killed his own idea by showing the grave scene. SHE WAS RAOUL'S HAPPY WIFE FOR MANY YEARS, IT SAYS IN THE MOVIE. THEREFORE LND DOES NOT EXIST. Boooooo ALW.

Also, yes. You MUST see LND sometime. Since there's actually no content in it. It is worth the awfulness for entertainment sake. Because it is just SO LAME. Seriously. It's worse than the POTO movie as far as lameness and plot holes.

FANTASTIC review, dearie. Lived up to your reputation. :P And the bunny gif was a perfect remedy to get the mind off of the awfulness. :D

Alexandra said...

Also I have a grudge against ALW forever because he didn't cast Michael Crawford for the movie. If you want reaaaal heartbreak, look at sometime. It makes me weeeeeeep. *goes and kisses my picture in the fridge*

Banríon An Gheimhridh said...

Miss Dashwood, this review is brilliant!

"the singing in "Angel of Music" wasn't horrid, and though his "Phantom of the Opera" and "Music of the Night" left a lot to be desired, he wasn't the worst performer I'd ever seen in a musical." *clicks on link and sees picture of Nick Jonas as Marius*

...I laughed so hard. XD

"He is her angel of music, not her Oscar the Grouch".

"Come with me to my lair, Christine, and I will teach you the proper way to toast a marshmallow."

Okay, basically the whole review had me in stitches. But those are some of my favorite parts.

I couldn't agree more about the 2004 movie Raul. He sucked. Well, he was a good singer, but otherwise, meh.

I cry at the ending every time. I don't dislike the 2004 movie, but I don't love it. I just kind of like it, but maybe that's just because I associate it with positive memories, because the first time I watched it was with my cousins.

People used to get married a lot younger, and the girls were often 16 when they got married. Now people tend to get married in their late 20's or early 30's, it seems, so I guess romantic relationships between younger people will seem stranger now. And the Phantom is already a lot older than Christine, so it's not really any more creepy, but age differences shouldn't determine love. I mean, of course there should be limits, but hopefully you know what I mean. I think Emmy Rossum was 17, not 16, although I'm not completely sure.

I don't think you would like Love Never Dies. I'm on team Erik, and even I didn't really like what Andrew Lloyd Webber did to Raul's character. I don't think there was any need for a sequel. The Phantom of the Opera ended perfectly, there's no need to expand on it.

Mykaela said...

The part about the toasting marshmallow just about killed me. Really, Miss Dashwood, this day is probably the closest you have ever come to murder! :D Hahaha! I loved the post! I have actually only watched about half this movie. Wasn't impressed enough to watch the rest. :( Although I don't dislike the singing as much as you do, and I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE her hair!!! So anywho, that's my take. :) Thanks for all the fun posts this week! God Bless.

Isabella said...

HAHA! I absolutely adore the last gif, too funny! And too much awesomeness put into only a few pictures put together :P


Alicia Showalter said...

Oh dear!! NOW I REALLY NEED TO SEE THE "GOOD" VERSION!!! I feel deprived! And I totally agree -- Christine's outfits were quite ummm.... LOW. Haha and that's funny: maybe she didn't really know the difference between neckline and waste band? ;) I do love that pink ball gown dress though WOW!! I would absolutely love to try that one on! :D

Jane B said...

Ok, so I think I'm going to be the voice crying alone in the wilderness. Meaning, I am a fan of the 2004 movie (yes, I said "fan" cos I think "phan" denotes Team Phantom, whereas I am firmly Team Raoul!) That said, I'm not much good at argument, so I'll leave it at that, but my mind is made up!

Admittedly, Gerard Butler was not a very good phantom. I hate how ALW bought into the whole "sexy phantom" thing & cast a hunky heart-throb, who couldn't sing & was nowhere near disfigured enough.

And speaking of singing, I loved Emmy Rossum's voice. Sierra's got a great voice too (I'm a sucker for any soprano) but I think I prefer Emmy's purer tones.

But that aside, I just loved the beautiful imagery of the movie: The stunning opera house and the amazing music. Call me shallow but the CGI just added that incredible wow factor that you wouldn't get on stage.

I understand, from what I've seen of the 25th, why you would find the acting in the film, stilted and wooden. To me, more used to seeing the subtleties of film acting, the stage appeared over dramatised and theatrical. But I understand that's the difference between stage and movie. So I think the film had more intimate & subtle acting.

Anyways, this post has made me want to watch POTO2004 again...and again. And, of course, I shall see the 25th but since I love the Phantom of the Opera so much, I will love every adaptation of it (but 2004 will always be the favourite!)

Anonymous said...

I was going to write a long post explaining the mysteries of the 2004 movie to y'all but I've left it so long I'll keep it fairly short and sweet.

I love the 2004 movie and whilst I can understand that people may not like it, I must confess I was somewhat bemused that people were calling it badly done. I think the reason people may find it hard to watch is because they are stage fans. A stage musical differs from a movie in that the actors have to project themselves to the audience through their acting. Hence they make extravagant gestures and overact to some extent their part so that the audience can see what is happening.

In a movie, we are close up to the actors. We can see the subtleties in movement and expression. We are intimately acquainted with them. So... Raoul is not wooden. I don't want a Raoul who over dramatizes his part. I want the Raoul of the movie - tender, loving, manly. The way he gently holds Christine is beautiful.

One of the best parts of the film is the technology. The switching between black and white and color was beautifully done. The red rose in the black and white.... you can't get that sort of stuff on stage.

I think Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote a beautiful and touching story. It made a fascinating and acclaimed stage musical. But in many ways it was a first draft. Now he has come back and polished and refined his musical for the film adaption. In the film, we see the story in its full triumph - close up, intimate and with a storyline that touches each and every one.

Well ok maybe I'm exaggerating a bit but I do think the movie improved upon the stage version. True, there are parts of the movie which are definitely questionable (many costumes, some acting) and this does detract from it but on the whole, I do love the movie.

Obviously everyone is entitled to prefer whichever version they like & I'm not trying to say anyone's wrong or anything, just trying to explain my rationale behind why I enjoyed it :)

Now I think I need to find someone who loves the movie as much as me and we can sit down and watch the 25th Anniversary - you know for the fun of laughing at it! *ducks*

- The Elf

Anonymous said...

Phantom... blah,blah,blah... Christine.... pictureAARONWHAT?!?!?!

Totally made my day. : ) Is that from Catch Me?


Kristin_Texas said...

I have to agree with someone else’s comment about POTO stage fans versus POTO film fans. The film is not supposed to mirror the stage version. Film and stage are two entirely different vehicles for telling a story. In Broadway, the voice is the most important since the audience is so separated from the actors. We can't see their facial expressions, but we can discern their body movements and hear their song. Film, on the other hand, is more personal. We're up close; face-to-face with the story and its characters.

And I wouldn’t say Gerard Butler was the worst Phantom ever. (The soundtrack for the movie was beaten only by the soundtrack of Ray on the year’s end chart). And from what I gathered, through watching and reading Gerard’s interviews after I saw the movie, he took the role very much to heart. (Rambling side note: I saw the man’s apartment in some architectural magazine a while back. Even the rooms in that place look like the Phantom’s lair). Even to this day you can tell how much that role spoke to him. It spoke to a lot of people.

And speaking of pedophiles, I’m not at all a fan of Michael Crawford… (gonna take the high road here and not get into just why I dislike him so much)… but seeing how he was born in ‘42, he was already pretty old when the movie was out. A lot older than Gerard Butler. Of course, had they cast a much older Christine that wouldn’t have been such a problem. The age difference in the movie never bothered me much though, seeing how we are talking about 1870 here.

I wish I had done my own post about the movie version – and maybe I will one day - but I wish for it to be laid out really well and I have limited internet service right now.

This was a fantastic meme you came up with, and I can’t wait to read everyone else’s musical posts once I get unlimited internet again!

And while I may disagree with your review, you are entitled to your opinion and I still love your blog. It has a really good vibe, and you have a great writing style.


Katy said...

I actually liked this version. Though definitely not as good as the 25th, I actually liked Gerard Butler as Erik, asides from his deformity and such. His Music of the Night and All I Ask of You Reprise made me cry. Then again, I like, as you said, the kind of raspy voices. Russell Crowe is awesome too.
And Patrick Wilson. Ho boy. Nope. Nopity nopity nope. He made me hate Raoul, but then I saw Hadley and kind of switched over to Team Raoul. *cheers from the peanut gallery*
Hahahaha, Nick Jonas as Marius. Almost as bad as Patrick Wilson. Very very close.
AARON TVEIT! Lol, that made my night. :D

Meredith Rose said...

After watching this movie, I thought I needed some background to understand the characters, so I read the book and watched the stage version. My conclusion is that Christine is an idiot(does she ever do anything intellegent... ever?), Raoul - you did a great job describing Raoul (he's even less intelligent and more infantile in the book), and the Phantom is a madman in the book, a scary person in the stage version, and a pathetic stalker in the movie. In fact, between book, musical, and movie, the only intelligent character I can find is a guy who isn't even in the musical and movie (he's called "the Persian", and he's nice and intelligent and noble).

Anyway, thank you for the review! I feel like too many people fangirl over Raoul like he's an actual hero.

P.S. I think Margeurite and her friends(TSP) still win the cleavage-revealing award.