Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera
*½/**** Image A+ Sound A+ Extras A
starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson
screenplay by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Joel Schumacher
directed by Joel Schumacher
by Walter Chaw At last, the moment where the stars align and professional bad filmmaker Joel Schumacher teams up with ace bad musical spectacle maven Andrew Lloyd Webber to create something that looks for all the world like Batman meets Liberace. There's never been a swooping crane shot Schumacher didn't like and there's never been a scale sung in falsetto to simulate ardour that Webber hasn't massaged; together, the two men give us a guided funhouse tour through a gaudy musical so bereft of real feeling and musicality that its inspiration has obviously run on Broadway for sixteen years now. (Offer a little hosanna that Sarah Brightman isn't in the film.) It's extraordinarily condescending to say so, but Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera is the perfect bracer for fans of "The Phantom of the Opera"--no button goes un-popped, no corset goes un-strained, and but for Minnie Driver as jilted diva Carlotta, not a one of the nicely-outfitted cast seems clued-in to the fact that there but for the grace of John Waters does the whole damned thing become The Rocky Horror Picture Show Redux. In fact, the only thing that could save this shambling monstrosity would be a few transvestites mirroring the action at the front of the cinema to the choral approval of the raincoat brigade.