I have been lucky enough to see The Phantom Of The Opera on stage several times and it has been a firm favourite since I was a teenager. I wasn’t quite sure how it would translate onto the big screen but one thing I was sure of was that with the aid of special effects and big budget I was expecting great things.
There was such a debate when the film was announced over who would play the title role of The Phantom, we were told Antonio Banderas would step in, Michael Crawford would return and then out of the blue a relative newcomer Gerard Butler was cast and we all held our breaths to see how he would bring his own mark to the role. As he tells us himself in the extras on the DVD he hadn’t sung before his role.
He is in a word sublime! He is brooding, sexy, complex, has literally the voice of an angel and is by far exactly what this adaptation for the big screen needed. In order for the Phantom to translate to film the actor needed to grab us by the heart and pull us with him – especially as see more graphically than we do on stage the sheer horrors that his twisted mind can inflict on those who dare cross him. He is beautiful to look at and I imagine most women, like me, would be begging for him to jump down off the screen pick us up and carry us back to his lair so mesmerising is he.
Emily Rossum has a beautiful voice and her young wide eyed innocence as Christine is perfectly cast – I always found Sarah Brightmans voice verged on grating at times – I find I much prefer the soundtrack for the movie for the reason that Rossum is easier on the ear and much purer of voice. I find her more believable as the young chorusgirl who is swept away by the Phantom’s Angel Of Music.
As to poor Raoul, Patrick Wilson. I never remember thinking of Raoul as second best to the Phantom when seen in the theatre. It was always believable that Christine would be torn between the two male leads and eventually would choose her childhood sweetheart who is strong of heart and madly in love with her. On screen however, from the outset the character is weak, drippy and outclassed in every aspect by Butler’s sizzling Phantom. Under no circumstances would any woman walk away from the magnetism of The Phantom to bed down with Wilson’s cardboard cut out hero. I don’t think that this is a reflection on Patrick Wilson’s acting, more the result of such perfect casting of Butler in the title role and let’s be honest the Phantom is the star of this show!!!
Minnie Driver is funny and engaging as the diva Carlotta who’s larger than life personality rules the opera house. Understandably due to the vocal range required for this role the vocals are not provided by Miss Driver but instead are dubbed however the song that Minnie Driver does provide for the end of this movie is beautiful and leaves you glued to your seat as the credits roll.
This is a masterpiece on film – beautifully shot, stunning scenes and costumes, wonderful acting and of course proof that the Phantom still rules supreme!