The Phantom of the Opera
Menahem Golan, Harry Alan Towers for 21st Century, Breton Film Productions
directed by Dwight H. Little
starring Robert Englund, Jill Schoelen, Alex Hyde-White, Bill Nighy, Stephanie Lawrence, Terence Harvey, Nathan Lewis, Peter Clapham, Molly Shannon Emma Rawson, Mark Ryan, Yehuda Efroni, Terence Beesley, Ray Jewers, Robin Hunter, Virginia Fiol, Cathy Murphy, Andre Thornton Grimes, Jaclyn Mendoza, John Ghavan, Mickey Epps, László Szili, Patrick Burke, Jonathan Linsley, Tommy Wright, László Baranyi, Otilia Borbáth, Lajos Dobák
screenplay by Duke Sandefur, Gerry O'Hara, based on the novel by Gaston Leroux, music by Misha Segal, tunes from the opera Faust by Charles Bornstein, special makeup effects by Kevin Yagher, Magical Media Industries
Phantom of the Opera
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Present day New York: Aspiring opera singer Christine (Jill Schoelen)
finds an outstanding composition by forgotten composer Destler (Robert
Englund) and sings it for her audition - where she positively stuns
everybody - but is hit by some lighting equipment and knocked out ... and
for some reason she is transported back to London 1881, where she is also
an aspiring opera singer who has landed a small role in the London Opera's
latest production of an opera by Destler, but she has a mysterious mentor
who wants her to play the lead - and the mentor is of course Destler
himself, who has struck a deal with the devil to make him and his music
immortal, but at the price of a horribly disfigured face. And Destler will
stop at nothing to get Christine the lead part in his opera, even if that
means killing people like diva La Carlotta (Stephanie Lawrence), a critic
who was unkind to Christine, and a stagehand who almost killed her in an
Soon enough, Inspector Hawkins (Terence Harvey) and Richard (Alex
Hyde-White), co-owner of the opera and Christine's boyfriend, are hot on
the trail of Destler, but by that time he has already abducted
Christineand taken her to the catacombs beneath the opera where he tries
to mold her into a diva by his design - but ultimately Hawking and Richard
catch up with Destler and Christine, and after a fight, Destler meets his
end in a fire.
Present day New York again: Christine wakes up and learns that she has
landed the lead role in the opera. To celebrate the occasion the opera
house's patron (Robert Englund) invites her to his home - but Christine
recognizes him from her dream, tears off his face and kills him after a
fight. Then he destroys his composition so he can never be reborn again
The film was made shortly after the premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's
musical Phantom of the Opera, obviously to cash in on that show's
success - which of course doesn't say anything about the film's inherent
qualities. So the question of course remains: Is it (any) good ?
Well, let me put it like that, it's not all bad, the idea with the
framing story in present day New York and the main story presented as
flashback with effects on the framing story is rather inspired, and the
film rises the gore level significantly compared to earlier film versions
of the story - on the other hand, the film follows slasher movie
(something also inherent in Gaston Leroux's source novel) much closer than
any earlier version, and apart from Robert Englund all lead performers are
rather bland and uninteresting, the direction lacks inventiveness and
personal style and the sets and costumes betray the film's (too) low
budget ... so this Phantom of the Opera is certainly not the
definite version of the story - but also, it could have been much worse.
review © by Mike Haberfelner
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