Directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Emmy Rossum, Gerard Butler, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Ciarán Hinds, Simon Callow and Minnie Driver.
Just listening to the instantly recognisable opening chords of 'The Phantom of the Opera's signature tune can send shivers down your spine. But what the eerie music hides is the fact that Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit musical is all pomp and circumstance, with very little substance. And Joel Schumacher's big screen version makes that pointedly obvious.
Orphaned at a young age, Christine Daae (Rossum) has found shelter behind the walls of the Opera Populaire in Paris, where she studies ballet and takes singing lessons from a mysterious 'Angel of Music', the Phantom of the Opera (Butler). When diva-in-residence La Carlotta (Driver) quits on the opening night of a new production, Christine is thrust into the spotlight.
Ballet mistress Madame Giry (Richardson) is the only person who knows that Christine's Angel of Music is a deformed musical genius who dwells in the catacombs beneath the opera house. But his power over Christine is shaken when she is reacquainted with the opera's wealthy new patron, Vicompte Raoul de Chagny (Wilson), her childhood sweetheart. As Christine and Raoul become closer, the incensed Phantom plots to take his revenge.
It's a long movie at almost two-and-a-half hours, and the fact that it's sung almost the whole way through makes it seem much longer. Even the dialogue is delivered in sing-song voices, which becomes irritating surprisingly fast. It also doesn't help that there are really only a few songs that are any good. 'The Phantom of the Opera', 'The Music of the Night' and 'All I Ask of You' are the best tunes in a production full of musical numbers.
While her singing is good, Emmy Rossum's miming to playback is infuriatingly unconvincing and she just can't hold a candle to Sarah Brightman, the original Christine, and Butler is certainly no Michael Crawford. Wilson, at least, sounds the part, but his acting leaves a lot to be desired.
Some of the cinematic elements are breathtaking, particularly the moment where the picture fades from black and white to colour in the recreation of the theatre in its heyday. The costumes and settings are also suitably opulent, but the spectacle cannot hide the tale's insubstantiality.
If you're in the mood for Andrew Lloyd Webber, go and rent 'Evita', the songs are much better and at least it has a plot. Let's just hope a big screen version of 'Cats' is not on the cards...