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Phantoms and Menaces

The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
An imperfect rendition that nevertheless features a phenomenal lot of wit and talent, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Phantom to the big screen is big on trompes l'oeil and clever little twists. I am told that there are many "pleasant surprises" even for those who are thoroughly familiar with the theatre production, of which I have only experienced the soundtrack. Certainly there was enough delicious anticipation on my part for each number.

Emmy Rossum has a flawless voice, which is doubtless why she was cast in the film. As mostlyacat wrote, she is a beautiful woman, but she just doesn't do enough in the spotlight. Somehow her facial expressions seem a little forced. There are a few exceptions to this during the final scenes, such as the on-stage duet of "Point of No Return" and the final confrontation in the cave, but she went into "big-eyed doll" mode a couple of times when the phantom was coming up behind her on the stage. Emmy Rossum is the kind of singer who makes it look effortless, and that sometimes works to one's disadvantage in a musical. The tomb scene was thus a bit tepid when it could have been chilling.

Gerard Butler was a suprisingly good phantom, and I was actually very impressed with his singing. He put just the right inflections into his words, and though some of his performances felt like imitation of Michael Crawford, I think he looked considerable more visually imposing. One gets a much stronger sense of the phantom's virility from him. (But what would one expect from "Dracotillaphantiwulf"?)

The actor who played Raoul sang his parts well, but was otherwise less than memorable, as I suppose befits the part. As for the rest of the cast: they were adequate, if not shining. The melodramatic actors who played the "new theatre owners" were hand-wringingly over the top. The actress who played Meg Giry stood out a bit, even though she had few speaking or singing parts save for the first duet of "Angel of Music" with Emmy. Was it just me, or did she remind you of Renee O'Connor (Gabrielle on Xena: Warrior Princess)?

My only critique of the movie musical is that despite all the great singing, good costumes, and decent acting, it misses something of the majesty of the theatre version. There's actually something to be said for having a mist-filled black stage with movable sets instead of a real cave, or outdoor scenes. Somehow the sun, the touching little framing story with its flashbacks, the fuller cast of the opera company, and the plethora of extras seem to distract a bit from the poignant central theme.

Being a sucker for the story itself, of course, I have to say it was a very enjoyable film. I look forward to someday watching a theatre production of Phantom.

7.5 / 10

Techno-Samurai Cosmo-Bunnies: Massforge recruitment continues apace: first masaga, then twinbee, then a student in my advanced graphics (CGI/CGA) course, have signed up. We will be using C++ and Eclipse as development platforms. I got chevronsha to spread the word (if anyone else reading this would please do the same, I'd be much obliged). So far, masaga's lady friend and a few others have volunteered to help with the logo. I would like for this to be a character we can use in the first prototype, as a showcase demo. Something that a few days with Maya 6 or Poser and a Wacom tablet will suffice to make, but that we can replicate a la the hordes of Isengard or Mordor. How do you all feel about Techno-Samurai Cosmo-Bunnies?

masaga: So what do you want as the logo?
banazir: Hrm, good question. Something fun, that evokes an orc army but doesn't look like too much of a Lord of The Rings or Warcraft ripoff? (Ponders.) Ever see Usagi Yojimbo?
masaga: Um, I don't think so.
banazir: The samurai rabbit?
masaga: Oh, him. Yes, I've heard of him.
banazir: Or a space battle. Think a couple of ships full of space marines trying to board each other in zero-grav.
masaga: Or both?
banazir: ... or both, yes! Good idea. Space bunnies. There's even a Space Usagi, if I recall correctly.
masaga: With half-cyborg faces?
banazir: Even better.
masaga: So, like, cybersamurai... space bunnies... [My GF] has a fairly anime-ish drawing style.
banazir: Oh, that's perfect.
masaga: It just keeps getting cooler and cooler. With armor?
banazir: Yes, clone trooper-like armor. Maybe Uruk clones. It will remind people of the cybergoats and the atomic supermen.
masaga: The what?
banazir: Oh, you never saw that "Switch to Linux" animated cartoon?
masaga: No, I remember you mentioning it...
banazir: Hang on... [brings the Flash animation up on Varda, the dual G4 PowerMac]
masaga: [Laughs] That's great. Artificial cybergoats.
banazir: Genetically-engineered cybergoats. And a Beowulf cluster of atomic supermen. And space bunnies.
masaga: That's good. Especially since I have an ambition to be an orbital brain laser someday.

So there you have it. Think Episode III meets Usagi Yojimbo and you've got an idea of it.

In other news, I slept eight hours last night and feel fairly bloated, like orange marmalade that has been scraped over too much homemade bread.



( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 29th, 2005 06:01 pm (UTC)
You need the sleep!

Come east, we'll go see Phantom together :-D
Mar. 29th, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC)
Sleep vs. dessert
You need the sleep!
Eh. "Need' is such a subjective word... ;-)

Seriously, I've been sleeping about 6-8.5 hours a night for over a week!
Maybe 4.5 on one or two occasions in the last five days.
I feel out of sorts... restless, ironically.

Come east, we'll go see Phantom together :-D

Maybe we can swap dessert ideas (though I'm sure to get the better of that exchange! :-D)

Mar. 29th, 2005 06:07 pm (UTC)
"Emmy Rossum has a flawless voice, which is doubtless why she was cast in the film."

Well this is where we'll have to disagree. She's a good singer, but definitely not flawless one. She was a bit flat at times, and I've heard many better renditions of the Phantom than hers.
Mar. 29th, 2005 06:24 pm (UTC)
She's a good singer, but definitely not flawless one.
Point. Simon Cowell, I am not. If I were called to account every time I used the word "flawless", well, let's just say people would not consider me a qualified reviewer. (Which - get this - I ain't!)

When was she flat, though?

Remember, I haven't heard the soundtrack, so the only part of the title track I've heard is the small snippet in the film, when Christine and Raoul are making their way through the opera house. Is there an actual duet with Gerard Butler cf. Crawford and Brightman? (And who, besides Sarah Brightman, are you comparing her rendition of the Phantom to?)

Mar. 29th, 2005 06:08 pm (UTC)
Sleep is good. Honest. The bunnies are lying when they say otherwise.
Mar. 29th, 2005 06:20 pm (UTC)
Sleep is good
I know. Have not been listening to the bunnies for weeks!

Mar. 29th, 2005 06:49 pm (UTC)
oh, i thought the movie was alright, but the singing was just... not.

no one impressed me with their vocal talent in this film... i think they should have dubbed everybody! but yes, i have been a huge fan of the Phantom since my sixth grade music teacher spent a week or two playing the original soundtrack for us. sixth grade girls are prime targets for this kind of thing! so, knowing every song by heart, every little inflection, it was hard to summon up any affection at all for this remake. :|

other notes:

meg giry was crazy hot!! she did a good job. (and yes, i can see the resemblance, though imo she'd definitely win out in a contest against that silly xena chick.)

emmy rossum was hot, yes, but her singing really was flat. 'big eyed doll' she did very well ;)

you really haven't heard the original soundtrack?? or am i just confused? if you haven't, you simply must :)
Mar. 29th, 2005 08:25 pm (UTC)
Geez. If you ever got bored with computer science, you could definitely write for a column or a magazine.
Mar. 30th, 2005 12:26 am (UTC)
Which part?
PTO review: I think not. As borgseawolf and illusio pointed out, my vocal standards are far too lax for me to be a music critic. (Yes, I know, Paula and Randy. :-P)

Massforge conversation: Eh, it's just a little side effect of a near-eidetic memory. Fun, sometimes, when one enjoys chewing the intellectual cud. But I can't see myself actually making any money from it.

The slings and arrowsills and virtues of sleeplessness: On this, I am an expert. Can't none of you touch this.

Mar. 30th, 2005 01:27 am (UTC)
the evils of rap music, eidetic memories and competition
my vocal standards are far too lax for me to be a music critic.

Heh, me too. And this is the part I meant with regards to my initial comment (this was another unintended rhyme like 'em all in my prose). I gotta stop listening to angry-young-men music, no matter how cool it may sound. It's like Paul says, "I don't agree with everything they say, but damn it sure sounds cool."

Eh, it's just a little side effect of a near-eidetic memory.

I never knew that word until about a year ago when someone asked me if I have an eidetic memory. I don't know how you would judge that, but I'd say near-eidetic... I can still recollect images from my childhood as far back as 5 years old, like the image of my teenage aunt Victoria picking me up and carrying me around the house while everyone was crying because my grandfather passed away.

The slings and arrowsills and virtues of sleeplessness: On this, I am an expert. Can't none of you touch this.

I donno, I think I'm pretty competitive in this area. ;-)

It's always a pleasure to chat with you.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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