Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Songs in your head? There's drugs for that.

OK, when I was a wee one about 16 or so, I loved Phantom of the Opera. I was a drama geek. If I didn't love it, I'd lose my geek cred. But after seeing the movie version tonight (as part of estrogen night with Cat, Katie, and Eva), I'm not sure why I loved it so.

For those of you who don't know what Phantom of the Opera is about, I'm not even going to bother to explain, except to say that it's one of those Andrew Lloyd Webber mega-musicals that has big things going on, huge music and all that fun stuff. I mean, a chandelier falls onstage for cripes sake!

Anyways, the movie...

I didn't care for the little 1917 scenes between the acts and scenes. It wrecked the flow of the movie and jolted you out of the scene. But the opening when the chandelier lights up and goes up the ceiling, reverting back to the past was fantastic.

Maybe the problem was Joel Schumacher and a lack of trust that people would be willing to follow the musical. I mean, we know what happens in the end (since most people have seen or heard about this), so we don't need to see that Raoul and Christine get together in the end. We don't need to be drawn back to 1917. Just let the chandelier go up and we go back to the 1870s and it's all good.

Why did Christine have the magical morphing underwear? One minute she's in a white corset and skirt asking to the graveyard and then her outfit suddenly turns black. It also apparently had magical insulating powers because she managed to run around on the rooftops of the opera house, in WINTER in her underwear and a cape (that was stylishly thrown open to show off her Heaving!Bosoms!). I do believe she spent more of the movie half-dressed or in her underwear.

Raoul's wig was fugly. And the California accent was just jarring. Frankly, all the accents were jarring. It was hard to tell where people were from. Some were French, some were Italian, some were "European" and some were American. Pick an accent (preferably the one in the country the story's set in) and stick with it!

Then again, Raoul was pretty damn bland too. As well as Christine. I know they're the romantic leads, but there was no heat whatsoever.

The Phantom wasn't deformed enough. For the big reveal during the second act, the first thing I thought was, "Hey, isn't that Anthony Hopkins?" The continunity on the mask was horrid. First the Phantom has slicked-back black hair, then suddenly part of the hair is gone once his face is revealed. Not to mention, it was a pretty large deformity that should have shown up underneath the mask.

Wedding dress for Christine and the miniature stage with Christine? Not creepy at all...yeah right.

Why was there an electric guitar wailing during the song, "Phantom of the Opera"? No really -- I kept expecting to see Motley Crue hanging out in the sewers or something. If I remember correctly, that's not in the original is it?

Also musically, for the Phantom to hear the two lovers singing "All I ask of you" as he releases her, I'd call that the musical equivalent of a kick in the jimmies for the poor guy.

Minnie Driver was funny as Carlotta. The bitchface was spot on. And I still wish that I could play Carlotta. I also adore Firmin and Andre for being the weirdly nouveau riche people that they are.

And I have to say that maybe it's because I'm more of a perv now, but frankly, if all the Phantom needed was a good lay every now and then, I'm sure that with the lights down low, a chorus girl would've given him what he needed. He didn't need to stalk some bland girl who heard voices in her head.

As for the singing, Gerard Butler was hammy as the Phantom (the tonal wavering at the end of "Music of the Night" was just weak).

Funny how I held that musical in such high regard when I was 16. Now my musical of choice is Chicago. Gotta love cynicism.


Amanda said...

Amanda: *sits up straight, cracks her knuckles, and prepares to comment the hell out of this post*

I haven't seen the movie yet, but as I've mentioned MANY times before I've had reservations from way back...mostly about Patrick Wilson's Wig of Fug (tm). My major in college was Music Theatre, so I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to movie adaptations. I'm not saying the movies should keep every damn detail from the stage version, because that would never work. Also, what looks great on stage (Falling chandelier! Ooh!) doesn't have the same effect on screen (Falling chandelier? Meh.)

But I at least expect a film that tries to capture the spirit of the staged version. That is possible. Prime example: "Chicago". First of all, Gary Marshall understands musicals, having come from a musical background. He also understood that using the exact format of the stage show wouldn't work at all on screen. (No movie has ever used a cabaret format. It's just not possible.) So, he adjusted the format to make it look like those kicky musical sequences were taking place in Roxy's crazy head, and SURPRISE! It worked!

I knew the "Phantom" movie would suck because not only is Joel Schumacher a shitty a director, but he's a shitty director who doesn't understand musicals (you only have to see his crappy-ass version of "The Wiz" for proof). It's just a shame, because Andrew Lloyd Webber has been working on this movie for ten years and it all seemed to go to waste. Then again, ALW never seemed like the sharpest knife in the musical theatre drawer. He's no Sondheim, that's for certain. I bet if Madonna walked into Sondheim's office and asked to play Cinderella in the screen version of "Into The Woods", he'd just look at her and say "fuck you".

Damn, this is a long response. It's practically a post unto itself. Sorry, I'm way too opinionated about this sort of thing.

I'll end by answering one of your questions: yes, that was an electric guitar wail in the title song. I know that because I bought the soundtrack, because I'm a moron.

Taoist Tongue said...

Ey! Fellow Madcityer!..I will have to tell my loverly one that the Movie is majorly Suckage...she's a total Phantom geek, but if it's this bad, I don't think I can even put myself in the seat to watch it!!....


K. said...

I'm still planning to see this with my sister, but it seems like its about as bad as we had feared. I'm no purist when it comes to Phantom, I saw it first at 10 and even then giggled a bit at the cheesiness of it. Even so, Joel Schumacher has never been known for subtlety and restraint. This may end of being the movie musical genre's answer to Chronicles of Riddick.

Viv said...

Amanda -- It really didn't catch the spirit of the musical. Maybe that's why I've been snarking on it so bad. But I also think that it's because my tastes have changed. I never saw the Phantom as sexy or tortured. I just love the musical for Carlotta. Not to mention, there were so many weird-ass details that jarred me out of the movie -- such as the lip synching being off with the music.

It says a lot when you see the audience getting up repeatedly to go to the restroom. This movie just didn't engage anyone.

But it's snarktacular! I recommend it on that basis alone!