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The Phantom of the Opera(2004)
Musical Drama based on Andrew Lloyd Webber's celebrated musical phenomenon. The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a disfigured musical genius (Gerard Butler) who haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, waging a reign of terror over its occupants. When he falls fatally in love with the lovely Christine (Emmy Rossum), the Phantom devotes himself to creating a new star for the Opera, exerting a strange sense of control over the young soprano as he nurtures her extraordinary talents.
For more about The Phantom of the Opera and the The Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray release, see the The Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 26, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver, Jennifer Ellison
Director: Joel Schumacher
» See full cast & crew
The Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray Review
The worldwide smash rock opera-turned motion picture arrives on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 26, 2008
When I am in Heaven, child, I will send the angel of music to you.
The Phantom of the Opera seemed the perfect vehicle for director Joel Schumacher to helm. Heavy stylization seems to be a theme in many of his films -- Flatliners, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin come to mind -- and Phantom is no different. Unlike the Batman films, however, his brand of exquisite ornateness, flashy visuals, multitudes of color, and a penchant for scenes featuring large crowds in masquerade work in this film. I couldn't help but think that despite the monumental disasters that were the Batman films he directed, they showed us a glimpse of his capabilities, so that when provided with a script where such visuals fit in with the story and characters, a splendid film must result. The gamble paid off, and Schumacher's take on a film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's classic 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera is a spellbinding one, thanks as much to the talent and eye for just this sort of material behind the camera as the excellent cast in front of it.
Paris' Opera Populaire is home not only to some of the finest stage performers in the world, but also to a mysterious "ghost" or Phantom (Gerard Butler, Nim's Island) who inhabits the vast, labyrinthine passageways below the structure and toys with the performers, owners, and patrons that frequent his home. Now under new ownership and thriving under the patronage of the Viscount Raoul de Chagny (Patrick Wilson, Running With Scissors), the Phantom sets his sights on manipulating into the prominent role as lead diva the beautiful and talented Christine (Emmy Rossum, The Day After Tomorrow), with whom he is secretly in love. Christine, however, loves Raoul, her childhood sweetheart. Not all goes according to the Phantom's plans, and the Opera Populaire might never be the same as a result of his scheming to garner prominence for Christine and win her affections.
As evidenced here, Joel Schumacher is a talented director who has caught a bad rap for his whacked-out, psychedelic, crazy cartoon or comic book come-to-life take on the Batman franchise. His direction in The Phantom of the Opera is oftentimes mesmerizing and wholly satisfying, evidenced from the very beginning of the film as the Opera Populaire comes to vibrant, remarkable life, replacing a dusty, decrepit, cobweb-infested, black and white future version of itself. The scene is accompanied by the famous Phantom theme, and the result is one of the better scenes in recent memory. With shot after shot -- from the most mundane of sleepy solos to the excitement of the film's final act -- Schumacher retains an ebb and flow to the film that keeps audiences glued to the screen, even those who already know the story inside and out. If one thing truly makes Phantom stand out, it's the film's luscious set pieces. Meticulously detailed, deliciously ornate, and awe-inspiringly gorgeous, each one -- from the palatial, exquisite lobby of the Opera Populaire to the dreary, poorly lit underground chamber that is prominently featured throughout the film -- immediately transports the viewer to 1870s Paris.
The Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Phantom of the Opera arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p, 2.40:1 framed transfer from Warner Brothers. This transfer is generally astounding. Colors are rich, deep, and true. There is a multitude of colors in nearly every shot, right from the opening rehearsal scene in the Opera Populaire as the film transitions from the post-World War One era to the height of the Opera house's popularity in the 1870s. Detail is simply exquisite in nearly every frame. The ornate costumes are not only colorful but full of intricacies that leap off the screen, featuring eye-catching detail. The undeniable grandeur of the Opera Populaire itself is magnificent. Every adornment and color is superbly rendered and appears practically real and palpable. The various marble surfaces in the lobby we see in several scenes are also beautifully reproduced. Even the dark, wet, underground passages generally look extraordinary. Detail is only moderate on the rock faces that surround it, due in large part to both the dim lighting that allows us to only make out so much texture and a bit of softness that is detectable over many of the shots taking place in this locale. Black levels are wonderfully deep throughout the picture, and flesh tones generally appear normal. The Phantom of the Opera is a visually lush film, and each and every square inch of the lavish set design and costuming is impeccably reproduced on this disc.
The Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sadly, a film as musically rich as The Phantom of the Opera falls victim to Warner Brothers' knack for foregoing lossless audio on many of their earlier Blu-ray releases, even though this film's HD DVD counterpart featured a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. Fortunately, the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack featured here is a solid one, but I yearn to one day hear Phantom in all its lossless glory. Dynamics are solid throughout and the film offers up excellent range with solid, deep lows and piercing highs. The various tunes sound great, from the more reserved, quiet solo performances to the robust grandeur and decidedly 80s-in-tone Phantom theme. It plays well over 5.1 channels and is exciting and room-filling each time it plays. Bass rumbles with a solid authority on occasion. The extinguishing of candles in chapter eight, a fairly mundane occurrence, is pumped to good effect here, and the subwoofer appropriately rumbles with each disappearance of the flames. The Phantom's booming voice as heard when he announces his displeasure with the presence of a character in his private box seat in chapter 16 reverberates and echoes with prominence and authority. Likewise, the film's climax and perhaps trademark scene demonstrates some solid lows and rumbles that add another dimension to the scene. Surround presence is adequate but not continuous, but dialogue is near perfect. Each voice, singing or speaking, carries well through the soundstage and emanates from the center with nary a hiccup. Although this is one title that begs for lossless audio, fans should not be disappointed with this sonic experience.
The Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Phantom of the Opera doesn't mask itself by foregoing any extra features. Warner Brothers has provided several decent supplements, headlined by Behind the Mask: The Story of 'The Phantom of the Opera.' (480p, 1:05:12). This is both a wonderfully entertaining and extremely in-depth feature that looks at the phenomenon that is Phantom. Focusing on the history of the production leading up to its stage debut on October 9, 1986 at Her Majesty's Theater in London, the piece is a The Phantom of the Opera lover's delight. The Making of 'The Phantom of the Opera' is a three-part documentary that examines the production of the filmed version. Origins and Casting (480p, 17:33) begins by showing some interviews from the red carpet ceremony at the film's premier, moves into a montage of behind-the-scenes footage, and finally moves into more substantive information, including some frank discussions about the auditions of actors and what traits Webber was searching for in the cast. Design (480p, 11:06) examines the vastness of the numerous stages required for filming and the difficulty in filming without major financing from a major studio. A look at the various scale models used throughout the film and more is included. Supporting Cast and Recording the Album (480p, 17:17) looks at the large number of extra characters that were hand-picked from the best of British theater, with interviews featuring several. Also included in this feature is the process of recording the soundtrack. Following the three-part documentary, we find an additional scene entitled No One Would Listen (480p, 2:26). Sing-a-Long (480p, 4:44) features members of the cast of the film singing the show's famous title song. Finally, the film's theatrical trailer (480p, 2:24) concludes the supplements.
The Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Phantom of the Opera is an acquired taste. While I admired the beauty of the film, fell in love with its captivating grandeur, found the story intriguing, and enjoyed the performances of the cast, I'm not about to become the next Phantom super fan. I do see this film as director Joel Schumacher's crowning achievement, however. His sometimes bizarre style and eye for lavish, colorful, and over-the-top filmmaking, making a character out of bright, eye-popping sets and costumes works perfectly with this material, and nothing in the movie ever feels out of place, extraneous, or too fancy. Likewise, Warner Brother's Blu-ray presentation of The Phantom of the Opera is a fine one. With striking picture quality, a fine, albeit lossy, audio track, and a fair amount of supplements, this disc is a sure-fire buy for anyone with a penchant for the Gothic, and for fans of the Phantom either before or since Andrew Lloyd Webber's extraordinary musical adaptation.
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