January 24, 2005

'All I Ask Of You': Don't See This Movie

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Ever find yourself wishing, nay, praying, that Meatloaf's videos, with their melodrama, their timeless questions (what exactly is it that Meat Loaf wouldn't do for love?), and their riveting portrayals of people swinging from chandeliers could last a full two-and-a half hours? Yeah, neither did I. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for Phantom of the Opera director Joel Schumacher, he who brought us not only Batman Forever, but also Batman & Robin. Fans of the phenomenally popular stage production have waited a good seventeen years to see their beloved, rock-opera extravaganza on the big screen. Instead, all Schumacher gave them was the world's longest music video.

As far as music videos go, it's really not all that bad especially if you are a Webber fan. Simply put, Andrew Lloyd Webber can write tunes. In fact, the dude can write tunes so well that he doesn't even have to rely on such extraneous components of drama such as "character development" and "remotely feasible plot" to create the most successful and adored musicals in the history of creation. Perhaps this principle is best exemplified in Cats, where Webber crafted the following plot en route to becoming the longest-running Broadway show of all time: "So, like, this play is about cats, but, uh, all the cats are different. Like, one is really glamorous, and one will be a magician. But the important point to remember is that they're all cats." Unfortunately, the story line for Phantom of the Opera is only moderately better developed. Ahh, yes. The plot. I believe it went something like this.

This fire-hazard of a film stars, first and foremost, a whole bunch of candles and lighting fixtures as a whole bunch of candles and lighting fixtures. Also featured is previously unknown Emmy Rossum, as the leading lady Christine. Rossum brings to the role the voice of an angel, along with the charisma of a wet towel. Christine has the misfortune of being trapped in a bizarre love triangle with one man (the Phantom) who happens to be a deformed psychopath who keeps himself occupied by wreaking havoc on a 19th century French opera house, and another man, Raoul, who does not seem to be visibly deformed or visibly psychotic. So, as I'm sure you can imagine, our dear Christine has a tough decision ahead of her.

The Phantom, played by Scotsman Gerard Butler, is quite a looker, save for the 33.3 percent of his face which happens to be deformed. Although places such as Hollywood have a tendency to place a premium on good looks (case in point: Ben Affleck's career), good looks don't fare quite as well for portraying a deranged phantom. Butler is about as talented as the leading man in your high school play — not so bad, considering it is a high school play, but not actually all that good, either. The shockingly miscast Raoul (Patrick Wilson) is even worse. I honestly cannot think of one actor who would have been a worse choice for the part than Wilson (Dustin Diamond, Gary Coleman, any of the Wayans brothers — I literally mean anyone would have been a better choice).

But despite their shortcomings (namely, a distinct lack of musical talent and catastrophically awful haircuts), our fair Christine loves them both. She loves the deranged phantom who nurtures her musical talents and takes her on bizarre rafting excursions through the opera house's sewage system, where they are free to sing about such pressing issues as love and fear and the trials and tribulations of living life with burn marks covering approximately 1/3 of your face. But the tortured soprano also loves Raoul, for reasons which can be boiled down to the following: while Christine is a woman, Raoul is a man, and therefore should serve as an adequate source of protection. Minnie Driver, who seems to share the same hair stylist as Marge Simpson, playing the delightful bitchy diva, sort of the Shannen Doherty of the 19th century opera, does her damndest to bring an iota of light into the film. But other than Driver's noteworthy performance, the only other source of light comes from the omnipresent chandeliers and candelabras.


Archived article by Talia Ron
Sun Staff Writer