(Originally published in Rocky Mountain Bullhorn)
Those who love Andrew Lloyd Webber and his Broadway version of “The Phantom of the Opera,” may well take to Joel Schumacher’s messy, excessive cinematic adaptation of the stage musical. For those of us less inclined to suffer through Webber’s bombastic tunes or his dramatically mushy retelling of the classic horror story – in which the fiendish tale of obsession and madness is oversimplified into a hot-blooded love triangle – be warned: this Phantom, with more cluttered production design, clumsy camerawork, and incoherent editing than one thought possible in a two-and-a-half hour film, is the kind of movie musical that deserves to be locked up in a dank, water-filled dungeon and left to molder.
Schumacher, a filmmaker without a subtle instinct in his body, works overtime to drench his film in ornamentation, yet with the exception of his staging of “Masquerade,” the film – a big, splashy sea of gold ruffles, feathers, flowers and candles – quickly drowns in opulence overload. It’s true that Weber’s grandiose Phantom lends itself to such extravagance, but the director’s visual lavishness is chintzy when it should be luxurious, suffocating when it should be alluring. Vainly attempting to amplify the play’s sexuality, Schumacher has his blandly handsome Phantom (Gerard Butler) bellow and pout like a childish maniac. And while the fetching, full-lipped Emmy Rossum provides a competent (and surprisingly strong-voiced) Christine, her tepid, googly-eyed romance with Patrick Wilson’s Raoul is – like so much of this odious, overblown opus – merely the stuff daytime soap operas are made of.