My new lesson learned today was this: Joel Schumacher should stick to directing musicals.
The first CD I ever owned was the original ‘Phantom of the Opera’ CD which I got for Christmas back in 1990. I have the entire thing memorized and had always hoped to see it onstage someday.
That never happened but the film version was finally made (sadly, without Michael Crawford) and I have now FINALLY seen it. I could recite every line of the film as it is an almost completely faithful version of the stage musical. Besides a few casting flaws (mainly the title character) the film does start to lag in the second half, but so does the original musical. As a whole, it’s still a damn good story and I found the movie very enjoyable.
In the past few years I have grown to dislike Joel Schumacher very much. Living with a comic book geek I was taught how badly he royally f&*ked up the last two Batman films. I have no problem with homo-eroticism but it has no place in the world of Batman – and don’t get started on the whole Batman & Robin thing. That’s not what that relationship is about and it never was. If you don’t buy it, try reading a Batman comic book instead of repeating what you’ve read mis-informed journalists spout off.
But I digress.
When I heard that it was Schumacher who was going to direct this long-awaited film version of Phantom I had mixed feelings. On one hand I thought his over-indulgent directing style might be a perfect fit for a musical; musicals have to be watched with a solid suspenstion of disbelief or they will never make sense to the viewer and over-indulgence mixes well with that mindset.
However, I was also worried that he would make the Phantom very gay. The Phantom is very much a straight man who loves the arts – yes, it can and does happen.
My fears were put to rest when I saw the movie last night. Gerard Butler was far from charismatic but he never exuded any kind of homosexual leanings and still managed to come off as very passionate about his art. In today’s society where men loving musicals automatically equals gay, I found this to be very refreshing.
I do recomend this film to fans of the original musical and to those who have the patience for a movie that is basically all singing. There are some spoken words (not many), but most of that was sung in the original stage musical.
The visuals in the film are gorgeous, especially the opening scene where the audience is ‘taken back in time’ via the rising chandalier – a scene that literally had shivers running up and down my spine. As stated before, the acting is adequate with one exception that even surprised me – Minnie Driver is hilarious in her role as the diva Carlotta.
I still regret that the Phantom was cast so poorly. Gerard Butler was not charismatic enough and his singing was simply not what should have been required for the role. Michael Crawford would have been the best choice but I suppose the producers thought he was too ‘old.’