THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (2004) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. (2004) BASED ON THE 1910 BOOK OF THE SAME NAME BY GASTON LEROUX AND ALSO ON ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S 1986 MUSICAL OF THE SAME NAME.

DIRECTED BY JOEL SCHUMACHER.

PRODUCED BY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER.

SCREENPLAY BY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER AND JOEL SCHUMACHER.

STARRING GERARD BUTLER, EMMY ROSSUM, PATRICK WILSON, CIARAN HINDS, SIMON CALLOW, KEVIN MCNALLY, MIRANDA RICHARDSON, MINNIE DRIVER AND JENNIFER ELLISON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Keep your hand at the level of your eyes.’

This is one of my favourite musicals, next to CABARET!, WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and OLIVER! I can’t think of any others just at the moment, except for maybe THE SOUND OF MUSIC and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

It’s the film version of music genius Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fantastic stage musical from 1986, and it’s absolutely bursting at the seams with vibrant colours, luxurious settings, magnificently opulent flower arrangements and costumes that are literally to die for, they’re so fabulous. It would take the sight out of your eyes, as we say here in Ireland, it’s such a glorious spectacle.

And the hilariously witty lyrics and songs are just terrific, and the storyline is sooooo sad, as you will probably remember from previous re-tellings of the story, the best of which is of course the Lon Chaney silent version from 1925. Just in case there’s any confusion, this 1925 film version is the best of all the film versions, including this 2004 musical adaptation of which I’m speaking so highly today. But this musical might well run a close second.

You know the story, of course. The beautiful young singer/chorus girl, Christine Daae of the Paris Opera, has been secretly trained by a mysterious voice she calls ‘the Angel of Music,’ which we know is actually the Phantom of the Opera, or the Opera Ghost, or the anonymous occupant of Box Five, someone who has lived in the dark, winding bowels of the Opera House for most of his lonely life.

Gerard Butler plays the hideously scarred Phantom, who wears a mask to conceal his ruined visage as much as to hide his identity. Some people, like Miranda Richardson’s Madame Giry, the ballet trainer, aid and abet him in his often funny communiques with the management of the opera, amusingly played by Ciaran Hinds and Simon Callow.

For example, the Phantom insists on being paid a ‘salary’ for his trouble, and is no slouch at reminding his ‘employers’ when they are late with payment of same! He also demands of them that they keep Box Five free for his private use during all performances. Looks like someone’s been consulting pgs. 77 and 142 of the Union of Phantoms’ rule book…

The Phantom has been training the exceptionally submissive and malleable Christine Daae to be the principal singer of the Paris Opera. But the Paris Opera already has a principal singer, a super-spoiled diva in the form of Minnie Driver’s beautifully costumed Carlotta, so the Phantom will have to make it impossible for Carlotta to sing the lead if he wants his precious little protegee to be Numero Uno in the tra-la-la stakes…

The Phantom has another little niggle to contend with, and it’s a wee bit trickier than just making sure that Christine reaches the dizziest of dizzy heights as the Opera House’s premiere chanteuse. Christine, played by Emmy Rossum who looks like a cross between Angelina Jolie and queen of the period drama, Jane Seymour, has another admirer, by Jove, what the Phantom ain’t too pleased about, see?

Yes, folks, and you’ll never guess who plays the Comte Raoul de Chagny, Christine’s devoted admirer and lover! That’s right, it’s Patrick Wilson, who goes on to play the part of Vera Farmiga’s handsome hubby and baby-daddy and fellow ghostbuster in the CONJURING and ANNABELLE films. You’ll hardly recognise him here, with his gorgeous long floppy hair and a pretty damn good singing voice to boot.

You’ll love the underground part of the Opera House, in which the Ghost has made himself comfortable, with an underground lake, ‘room for a pony,’ a la Hyacinth Bucket, a portcullis and various security measures that ensure that the Phantom sees you a lot sooner than you see him.

He has also booby-trapped the shit out of the place so that he can feel safe in his realm, but God help anyone who wanders down there without knowing the lay-out and the pitfalls, which would be most people, if not all people. No wonder Madame Giry more or less says to Raoul at one point, this is as far as I dare go, you’re on your own, bud…!

But is it horribly unreasonable of the Phantom to expect the attractive, talented and vibrant Christine to spend most of her young life beneath the Opera House with him, living and sleeping in the dark and almost never coming up for air or a taste of the rich, varied human life of Paris?

She feels a deep debt to him, and pity for what he is, but pity and indebtedness are very different from love, if you see what I mean. What will the curly-headed songstress decide to do…? (PS, she does look sexually blissed-out when the Phantom touches her and sings to her, so maybe that sexual attraction could help sustain an underground relationship/marriage after all…?)

Such a spectacular, visually stunning film, sandwiched between two black-and-white bits featuring the Comte de Chagny and Madame Giry in ‘old-face,’ as they attend an auction of memorabilia from the ruined Opera House’s hey-day and the Comte goes to visit Christine’s grave in the snow.

Jennifer Ellison from BROOKSIDE as Madame Giry’s ballerina daughter Meg is not strictly necessary to the plot, but she has lovely blonde hair and big fake (I think!) bazookas which look adorably bouncy in the little low-cut ballet dress, so, for those reasons possibly, she was left in, lol. Little Emily Shadwick offa Brookie is possibly the last person you’d expect to see in any version of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, but there you go. Boobs are a key that opens many doors…

  AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
 
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her new book, THIRTEEN STOPS EARLIER, is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://amzn.to/3ulKWkv
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
https://www.amazon.com/Thirteen-Stops-Sandra-Harris-ebook/dp/B089DJMH64
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Thirteen-Stops-Later-Book-ebook/dp/B091J75WNB/

THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGEL OF DEATH. (2014) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

The Woman in Black 2 Angel of Death

THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGEL OF DEATH. (2014) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION. DIRECTED BY TOM HARPER. STARRING PHOEBE FOX, HELEN MCRORY, OAKLEE PENDERGAST AND JEREMY IRVINE.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Whenever she’s seen, and whoever by,

One thing’s sure; a child will die.’

Funny how the words The Woman In Black conjure up much more frightening images in people’s minds than, say, The Woman In The Sort Of Beigey-Fawn Cardigan or The Man In The Electric Blue Shell-Suit. I’ve no complaints with the title.

As to the rest, it pains me to speak ill of a Hammer film but this one isn’t great. It’s only about half as good as the original film starring Daniel Radcliffe which preceded it. It could have used some sharper scripting, that’s for sure, and maybe some livelier characters too. The characters here are very ‘meh.’ You wouldn’t go out of your way to save a single one of them from being hit by a runaway rickshaw, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, it’s 1941 and London is very busy indeed being bombarded daily- and nightly- by Uncle Adolf’s Blitz. Drippy young schoolteacher Eve Parkins and her snotty headmistress Jean Hogg are shepherding a group of frightened kiddies to the countryside to get them away from all the nasty bombs-es. (Gollum to Hitler: ‘You’re ruining it…! You’re ruining London!’)

Guess where they’re being evacuated to, by the way? This is a hoot. Eel Marsh House, in the isolated market town of Crythin Gifford, where Harry Potter was first terrorised by the spectre of the Woman In Black.

Jennet Humfrye lost her beloved only child, Nathaniel, in a drowning tragedy back in the Victorian times and, being of a vengeful nature, she’s making damn sure it’s everyone’s problem. (She particularly blames her respectable married sister Alice Drablow, who took Nathaniel from the unmarried Jennet and adopted him.) The presence of the children in the house on the damp, misty causeway is all it takes to wake her once more…

Eve is particularly sensitive to the presence of the spectral female because she has something in common with her, something heartbreaking, a desolate secret. She’s the first person to come to the rather chilling conclusion that there’s ‘someone else’ living in the house with them, a ‘tenant’ who hasn’t yet been properly identified.

The ghost has her eye on a particular chubby little fellow called Edward, because he’s just become orphaned and is traumatised and refusing to speak. Time after time, the ghost comes for little Edward and, time after time, is batted resolutely away by Eve. How long can Eve keep up this militant stance against what SKYMOVIES.COM refer to as ‘one of British cinema’s scariest creations…?’

The ghost isn’t terribly scary this time round, I’m sorry to say. Some of the bleak scenery is far spookier. I love the deserted village, although not the madman who resides there. What’s he living on, by the way, rats’ tails and flies? It doesn’t look like there’s much sustenance to be found in the scrubby little village gardens any more.

Come to that, what are the children, Eve and Jean eating up at Eel Marsh House? Not once have we seen a boy on a delivery bicycle wind his way up the causeway path before the sea washes over it and covers it again till low tide. There’s no telephone in Eel Marsh House either, so how do the two women get in touch with the undertaker when they need him, eh…?

I nearly forgot to mention Eve’s boyfriend, possibly because he’s so forgettable. He’s an RAF pilot based at an airfield nearby to Eel Marsh House, and we know for sure he’s a pilot because he always wears the furry collar of his leather jacket turned right up. It’s like he’s afraid to turn it down- even a little bit- in case it means he’s not a pilot any more. What a muppet. Thinks he’s Elvis, lol.

This pilot fella, Harry Burnstow, who has the blankest face, has his own back-story and tacked-on secret, for which he’s seeking redemption. Maybe he’ll find it looking after Eve and the little evacuees and protecting them from the Woman In Black. Or maybe the film-makers will forget to finish his storyline altogether. He’s such a mannequin I honestly wouldn’t blame them.

Having said that this sequel isn’t much to write home about, I would like to see at least two more films in this franchise which, after all, started out very well. One set in the ‘seventies, maybe, with a hippie commune (free love and natural childbirth and all that) coming to live at Eel Marsh House, and one set in modern times, in which a young married couple, together with their child, find out that they’re now the sole descendants of the original owners and decide to come and live in their house themselves rather than sell it. I’d watch the hell outta both of those, lol. Thankfully, there’s life in the old dog yet. (In the franchise, I mean, not in me! There’s loads of life left in me and the franchise yet, lol.)

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor