The Phantom of the Opera appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A product of the format’s early days, the Blu-ray showed its age.
Not that Phantom looked bad, but it came with inconsistencies. Sharpness varied a surprising amount, as some shots boasted very good delineation while others faltered.
In general, though, definition felt a bit iffy and soft, with occasional moments of stronger clarity. Some blockiness occurred at times as well, especially as it related to the movie’s seemingly omnipresent fog.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering came up, but light edge haloes crept into the presentation. Print flaw remained absent, but some artifacts gave the image a dodgy look.
Colors tended toward an amber feel, and the tones felt a bit mushy. Some brighter tones boasted good flair, but in general the hues felt mediocre.
Blacks could be a little too dense, but low-light shots offered fairly appealing accuracy. There was enough positive here for a “C+” but the Blu-ray could use an update.
Overall, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Phantom of the Opera worked well. As one might expect, music dominated the mix.
Effects played a moderate role, but the film included so much music that they didn’t get much of an opportunity to do much more than offer general support. A few sequences utilized those elements in a slightly stronger way, usually related to the Phantom’s intimidation of Christine and others.
As for the track’s use of music, it opened up the spectrum well. Logically, the songs and score focused primarily on the front channels, and they offered excellent stereo delineation in that realm.
They also broadened nicely to the surrounds. The back channels provided good reinforcement of the music and also featured some isolated elements, primarily the Phantom’s spooky voice. The soundfield was perfectly appropriate for this form of movie.
In addition, audio quality seemed strong. Speech consistently came across as natural and crisp, with no signs of edginess or problems connected to intelligibility.
Effects sounded clean and clear, and they boasted good range as necessary. Music presented fine clarity and definition.
The dynamics of the score and songs seemed lively and firm. Other than the absence of a lossless option, I found little about which to complain in this strong soundtrack.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the DVD version? Audio remained identical, as the Blu-ray replicated the lossy Dolby 5.1 track from the DVD.
In terms of visuals, the Blu-ray was a bit tighter and smoother, with stronger colors. However, the encoding showed its age, so this wasn’t a huge upgrade.
The Blu-ray reproduces the last DVD’s extras, and we open with a one-hour, five-minute, 12-second documentary called Behind the Mask: The Story of The Phantom of the Opera. It provides with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, producer Cameron Mackintosh, lyricists Richard Stilgoe and Charles Hart, theater critic and writer Michael Coveney, choreographer Gillian Lynne, director Hal Prince, singer Steve Harley, theater critic and writer George Perry, designer Maria Bjornson’s assistant Jonathan Allen, magic consultant Paul Daniels and wardrobe mistress Ceris Donovan.
The program quickly covers the origins of Gaston Leroux’s original novel and its many iterations over the years before it focuses on the roots of the stage musical. We start in 1984 with Webber’s initial interest in the material and then move through adaptation and story issues, inspirations, the composition of the songs, early tests of the material and its evolution, promotion via the music video, casting the show and bringing in other production personnel, set and costume design, choreography, mask design and makeup, rehearsals and modifications, the show’s debut and its rapid success.
Despite my continued disdain for Phantom, “Mask” offers a pretty great little documentary. It traces the development of the musical in terrific detail, as it gets into the various stages of the production quite well.
The participants appear frank and give us nice insight into things. Add to that lots of good archival bits like the test at Sydmonton, cheesy music videos, shots of the composers at work, original design sketches, and many glimpses of the stage productions.
Frankly, this documentary is infinitely more entertaining than the film itself. My main disappointment is that we don’t get an uncut version of the absurd and idiotic Ken Russell music video, though it’s also too bad that neither Sarah Brightman nor Michael Crawford appear in the interviews.
Next comes another documentary entitled The Making of The Phantom of the Opera. It goes for 45 minutes, 56 seconds and brings
comments from Webber, director Joel Schumacher, executive producer Austin Shaw, casting director David Grindrod, makeup and hair designer Jenny Shircore, model unit supervisor Jose Granell, production designer Tony Pratt, construction manager Terry Apsey, director of photography John Mathieson, costume designer Alexandra Byrne, choreographer Peter Darling, stunt double Paul Kennington, musical director Simon Lee, music co-producer Nigel Wright, stunt coordinator Greg Powell, and actors Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Minnie Driver, Miranda Richardson, Jennifer Ellison, Ciaran Hinds, Simon Callow, and Kevin McNally.
The show goes into the show’s slow path to the movie screen, the choice of Schumacher as director, casting, characters and the actors’ work, scenes created specifically for the film, makeup, sets and related elements, cinematography and lighting, costumes, choreography, stunts, rehearsing, recording and revamping the music, and the big chandelier sequence.
Created by the same folks who did “Mask”, “Making” doesn’t work quite as well, but it’s a success nonetheless. It gets into the most important issues connected to the film’s creation quite nicely, as I don’t think they left out anything essential.
Admittedly, a little more depth about some of the issues would be good, as for example, I’d like to hear more about why it took 18 years to deliver a final Phantom film. Nonetheless, “Making” moves nicely and covers its topics with clarity and insight.
A Cast & Crew Sing-Along runs four minutes, 44 seconds. It brings a weird music video of sort, one in which various production participants croon the title song. It’s weirdly compelling.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find one Additional Scene. Called “No One Would Listen”, it fills two minutes, 26 seconds.
In it the Phantom mopes around his lair and pines for Christine while he croons this ballad. Since the movie already includes 972 saccharine, drippy ballads, I’m very happy they cut this one.
Slow, tiresome and tedious, I can’t find anything entertaining in The Phantom of the Opera. I suppose its theatrical melodrama plays better on stage, but on a movie screen, it fails to do anything to distinguish itself. The Blu-ray brings mediocre visuals along with good audio and a nice array of bonus materials. This becomes a dated Blu-ray for a flawed film.
To rate this film, visit the original review of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (2004)