And it is this: actually, I love this movie, because of what it is. It's a Phantom of the Opera movie. It is not everything it could have been, or should have been, but as a movie it isn't bad.
I like the presentation, for the most part, like most of the sets and the design and most of the costumes. I did not much like Gerard Butler’s or Emmy Rossum’s singing, but Patrick Wilson was all right. He was kind of a neutral entity. I think the only thing that really bothered me about Raoul was his hair. (Christine’s did, too. I approve of pre-Raphaelite ringlets and at least they didn’t try to make book canon phans happy by making her blonde, but it stood too far off her head.) Emmy sounds nice enough when she’s not trying to reach high notes, which she sort of can’t, at least not the way they’re supposed to be reached. And Gerard Butler in my opinion, can’t sing the role at all.
Yes, I’m a harsh critic, but I am one of those diehard Phans of the OLC, (and of course, Erik himself) so I’m allowed to keep this opinion. But it isn’t just Sarah; there are many stage Christines who can hit those notes more gracefully than Emmy did (like Anna Maria Kaufmann on the German cast recording) . . . All right, and by some accounts the slightly-above-average Phan can sing it better than Emmy, too. Her voice is pretty, but it just isn’t . . . Christine material. This is supposed to be a girl with a voice like nothing the world had ever heard, Life’s own Daughter bearing Her own voice for the mortal world to hear, the girl blessed by the Angel of Music himself. And Erik’s voice is supposed to be even more entrancingly angelic. I wouldn’t follow Mr. Butler’s voice through my mirror or even over to Starbucks in broad daylight.
+ I love the beginning, how the Opera is restored to its former glory during the overture while the chandelier rises, and so full of people running around doing everything that they do, ballerinas, stagehands, costumers, musicians, the whole backstage world. Cos the Opera was this empire unto itself; you could live there your whole life and never have to leave. Everything is there.
+ Also I like how Mme Giry is there and apparently immortal (or at least like, ninety) – and it is Mme Giry and not an adult Meg, because Meg got married and became La Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac, and even if she never did, she’d still be Mlle Giry, then. She’s there in the musical, too, just underplayed. I love Raoul’s Flying Nun, too.
- I do not like how they moved it back to 1870 instead of 1881, cos Leroux said in 1911 that it hadn’t been more than thirty years, and also the Opera wasn’t finished being built in 1870, and soon after that the Commune ripped through and angry mobs killed all the aristocrats again and the Opera cellars were used as a military barracks and gunpowder store and that’s how Erik has the power to blow the place up.
- I also do not like how Christine is 16 instead of 19 cos that’s just too young. Three years is a big difference in this matter. Also I don’t really like the manipulation of her backstory, with her father dying and her coming to the Opera when she was seven, because I don’t think that gives her enough time to form a relationship with her father that the loss of which is going to seriously affect her for the rest of her life. Also, that means that Erik has been watching her since she was seven, and that’s just creepy. Though if that’s the case, why is he waiting until now to push her into the spotlight? How long has she been receiving lessons? Why is she not a better singer if she’s been receiving lessons for so long?
+ I like how Carlotta was presented. She looks how I always envisioned her, too, tall and formidable and imposing and flamboyant. And I love the doggie. :)
+ Meg is cute.
+++ Love love love love love Christine’s white Think of Me dress. I love the fluffy fluffy skirts. I love the stars in her hair, I love the stars on her earrings, I love the stars on her skirts. I love how she glows with holy. I love the little girl angels and the white horses in the background. I want this dress. I will somehow procure it and then wear it to the next dance I attend, though that will probably be in like twenty years.
+ I like the chapel and Christine’s sad little candle, though I don’t like how the music lessons apparently took place here instead of her dressing-room cos it was really Carlotta’s dressing room, which means that the Mirror is looking in on Carlotta. I mean, really – what purpose would he ever have for that? I like Angel of Music in general because Meg and Christine are cute. Also I like the inclusion of Christine backstory even though it isn’t accurate because you see Little Christine.
- I do not like how Christine’s father is apparently Gerard Butler. No. That is not how it went. Christine had no more of an Electra complex than Erik had an Oedipus complex, thank you, Mr. Shumacher and Ms. Kay. They were messed up, but not that messed up.
- I do not like how Little Lotte is spoken and not sung because for one thing it sounds silly and for another, it’s to the same tune as The Point of No Return. This happens in a few places in the musical, and I always thought it was awesome, because although Don Juan isn’t performed until the very end, it pervades the entire score, in little pieces. It haunts it. Its presence looms, until even the Happy Song Of R/C Puppy Love has a slightly creepy, dark undertone.
- What happened to the red scarf?!?! Noooooo! ::cries::
+ I like the recurring red roses with black ribbons because they are Symbolic Like Whoa. (And we know how much I’m into rose and ribbon symbolism.)
+ The Mirror Scene, however, is OMGawesome as ever. Liked that. I love how the title song starts as soon as she takes his hand, and I love that image, of her white hand in his black glove. I mean, the colour symbolism is wildly overt, but I love it.
+ Largely, I like the title song and the trip through the cellars. I don’t see the need to revert to the 1985 Steve Harley rock opera version, or cut out the last verse, but whatever. (And when did Christine change her eye makeup and lose whatever was tying her hair back and her shoes?) I am glad César was included, even if he’s the wrong colour.
- However, the lake should not be shallow enough to wade in, and the cellars were entirely too bright. And why, exactly, is the Phantom living in a lagoon? How is he not dead of hypothermia from living in such a damp, drafty environment?
+ His lair was overall very cool, though. And there was a drawing of Aminta like there is in Shadow-play, although it was in watercolour and probably not dated the year Christine was born. And the dollhouse just cracks me up. Though the head removal is a little weird.
- I do not like how the Wax Figure is not shown for long enough for anyone who doesn’t know what she is to figure it out, and that she doesn’t do anything. She just stands there, sort of grinning evilly. She doesn’t lean out and thrust her arms at Christine, because she doesn’t have any. It’s Nessarose WF.
+ I do approve of how the scene that was allegedly going to be at the end of this scene, by ellipsis or otherwise, is not here, and that Christine seems to have survived this night without implication of the implosion of the universe, apart from mysterious disappearance of her socks. I’d pass this off as simply a continuity error if some professional movie reviewer hadn’t noticed it, too, and wondered, “Has something occurred?” so I’m just going to ignore it. (Some other reviewer commented, “Rossum emotes her little socks off,” so we’ll just say that’s what happened.)
+ I love the scene with Meg going into the cellars, since she’s apparently the only one who has noticed/cares that her friend is missing. I love how they show how the Mirror really works, and I the hand that comes down on her shoulder and is really Mme Giry, because if I were Meg, actually, at that point I think I’d rather meet the Phantom.
- I don’t like the way they handled the unmasking scene. She comes over and is like, “Okay, I’m going to take this off now,” and then he’s just sort of “Rrrrrrrr.” He’s supposed to explode. It isn’t just seeing his face for the first time that’s supposed to freak her out; it’s that up until then she’d been thinking he was an Angel and just wanted to know what he looked like and why he is wearing this mask and then he got very angry and threw her across the room and chased her around and roared and yelled and scared her half to death.
+ Notes and Prima Donna were well done and very funny.
- Lol @ Gerik's utter lack of sealing-wax skillz.
+ And I have never liked Il Muto anyway, but I adore the sheep, and the Phantom chasing Buquet through the flies while the ballet is going on.
+/- All I Ask of You was pretty, with the snow and the roof, but I don’t like how you knew the Phantom was there all the time because then you aren’t allowed to like it. When I saw the musical, I thought it was brilliantly done, cos up to then I’d only heard it and thought it was just this nice happy song. But in the show Raoul and Christine go up there and she’s all scared and the two of them look so vulnerable, with the dark outline of the rest of the roof and the statues, and the wind howling and it’s all dark and scary. And Raoul looks around to make sure there’s nothing scary and Christine stands there looking forlorn and then they have their song, but you know they’re being watched by something. And it’s a sinister presence, not a melancholy one. You worry for them.
But then the song happens, and the profess their undying love for each other, etc, make plans to run away, and it’s all “awwww’. And then you realise that Erik was there the entire time, and heard everything, and it’s no longer scary, it’s heartbreaking. But they sort of skipped the scary here. And why was Christine wearing her corset, pink petticoats, and Andromeda’s cloak? It wasn’t just red velvet, it was red velvet and entirely too long on her. Where did she get it? Is it Carlotta’s? Why is she not dead of frostbite flouncing around bare-armed in the snow?
- Chandelier?! He’s all like, “I will have my revenge!” and then nothing happens. The music falls but the chandelier does not.
-- Actually I didn’t like the Masquerade. And this is all me with my Christine-centric idea of the plot (though it used to be, since it was originally Sarah-centric), but I liked it in colour and then Christine all sparkly. I understand we’re making Red Death stand out by being red, and then Christine is in pink because she’s tainted by his influence (this is on the official site, I’m not making it up), but to me, pink just =/= caught in the thrall of a dark mastermind. Pink = rosebuds and strawberry ice cream and Baby Sarah’s pinafore.
In my Phantom of the Opera movie (stop laughing, there will be one once I’ve done Dracula), I will convey this idea like this: Everyone is in their eccentric and slightly grotesque costumes, in all colours except red and white. Red Death is in red. Christine is dressed as an angel in a fluffy white dress and wings, with a red sash.
Also (and this is the Christine-centricity) it’s supposed to be that like, everyone there seems to be dressed as Erik because they all think they’re so clever, and so someone cuts in on Raoul and Christine gets swing around from man to man, faster and faster, and in her POV you’d just see all these masks in a whirl, and it’s horrific. And then Raoul rescues her.
And furthermore, that is not at all what Red Death should look like. No. Just . . . no.
+ Though I did like how Raoul is wearing the same costume he has worn in practically every movie adaptation since the 1925 one. I like that little homage. And his sword (though why did he leave Christine to go get it?! That’s just irresponsibility, sir) and the trapdoor into the torture chamber which apparently Mme Giry knows how to get into and out of.
And I like the pink rosebud dress just as a dress.
++ Love the flashback with young Mme Giry.
- Though, if the Phantom lived under the Opera his entire life, how has he learned everything that he knows? So, like with Christine, I like that they included backstory, it was just flawed. Also, this has given rise to the circulating rumour that Gerik is Meg’s father, which is just wrong on quite a few levels. And how old are we supposed to think Erik is, then?
-- I mourn the loss of the Don Juan rehearsals, because they were cool, and better placed then.
+++ But oh my goodness, the graveyard sequence was just breathtakingly gorgeous. This has always been my favourite sequence, in all aspects, music and staging and symbolism and design, especially the violin segue into the graveyard, and it was so beautifully done – the Phantom taking Christine, who doesn’t know it, away in the carriage and Raoul galloping after him on his white charger through the misty winter dawn. And Raoul has all his symbolism! If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you know how happy this makes me, he has his sword and his white horse (and the stag, too), and all his Knight in Shining Armour-ness. I mean, it was brilliant. This is how I’ve always had the graveyard scene staged in my mind – Erik drawing Christine towards him across the snow to the mausoleum and Raoul comes over the fence on his white charger.
Wishing, too, was one of the higher points of Emmy’s singing, and Wandering Child was beautiful.
And the swordfight! Oh the symbolism! Oh the swords!
- I’m only going to take a few points off for some minor details: One, a Swedish peasant violinist is not going to have this freaking huge tomb. Two, I didn’t like the red light. Wrong symbolism there, she’s not being drawn towards Hell-light, she thinks it’s Heaven. She thinks he’s an Angel. It should be white. Three, I disapprove of the dress, not just cos it’s black and not blue, but it has given rise to an absurd Phandom-wide inside joke about Emmy Rossum and her Cleavage of Doom. Given, it’s now hilarious, but it would be better off if it never existed. That is not proper graveyard attire, miss.
+ I like the little scene in the chapel. I’m glad they included it at least (although it should be sung). She’s so scared! She needs a hug! Also I like how some time has passed so it’s not like Raoul has changed his mind about Christine appearing in this opera immediately. And I like her outfit here. (Finally, something blue and white!)
+/- I have mixed feelings about The Point of No Return. On the surface, I liked Christine’s Aminta costume (though was it ever mentioned that her name is Aminta? Do the moviephans not know who Minty is?! Oh no!), especially her lack of shoes and that huge rose in her hair.
I did not like the Phantom's sad excuse for a Don Juan outfit, cos he’s not fooling anyone. I liked the Ringwraith cloak. AND THE APPLE! WHERE IS THE APPLE?? FIFTY POINTS FROM GRYFFINDOR! For that matter, where is the set? And what is up with the dancers?
I did, however, like all the hellflames and such cos it fits the scene well and does a good job of representing that by this point, they're all doomed. There’s no getting out of this. I like how they go up the stairs and meet in the middle of the bridge.
And Christine almost sort of does what she’s supposed to do in entering scared, and then deciding fine, if this is what he wants, I’m going to follow his script to the letter, so there. Though there’s not really that moment of OMG that’s not Piangi! For anybody. But it’s close to what it should be. I mean, I have my own ideas of how it should be staged, but I have my own ideas on how everything should be staged, so . . . I’ll just make my own version and that will be that. ;P
++ I did like the fall of the chandelier (even though it doesn’t almost fall on Christine), and the drop through the trap through the flames (even though it causes Christine’s skirt to fly over her head), and the Opera catching fire so that now everyone’s running around and the mob is assembling while the place is burning down around their ears. Cos mobs have that sort of mentality.
+/- The Final Lair scene could have been better done, I think. I like how it took place half in the lake but Christine isn’t looking very distressed about this. She’s sort of standing there like “Oh, no, what do I do now.” In fact none of them seem really concerned. At least, not as concerned as they should be. Except Raoul who is tied to a portcullis.
I did love how she wades into the lake to kiss him. That was beautiful, with her white skirts floating behind her. Liked the 360-degree camera revolution.
- And overall, I liked the black and white framing sequences, but Christine most certainly should not have lived to be sixty-five, nor should she be anybody’s beloved mother. (And if that’s the case, then where are the children? Where are the grandchildren? Why are they making a point of this, if they don’t explain it at all?) And also, since the rose is there on the grave (which I did like just for its symbolism value) you sort of get the impression that some semblance of the love triangle continued on until they were all in their sixties. Not that they saw each other, just that they were probably thinking of each other, and the triangle was still intact.
And that is enough of my high-flung opinions on the subject for today. :)