The beloved musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe (based upon the novel Le Fantôme De L'Opéra by Gaston Leroux) sees a lush screen adaptation starring Emmy Rossum as Christine, the beautiful and gifted young woman who, by a tragic twist of fate, lands a spot as the lead part in a Paris Opera House production. Rumor has it that The Phantom Of The Opera (Butler) was behind Christine's turn of luck, but it isn't until she meets the disfigured composer that she learns that he is not just a legend. Despite his desire to compose an opera specifically for Christine, her love affair with the wealthy nobleman Raoul (Wilson) drives the phantom to terrifying jealousy. Soon, Christine is asked to help capture the mad genius once and for all...a move meant to silence "the music of the night." (Suzanne Hodges)
Special features on this easy-to-use menu include a hour-long historical look at The Phantom Of The Opera, the making of The Phantom Of The Opera in three parts—origins and casting, design, and supporting cast and recording the album—running about 45 minutes, an additional scene, a five-minute cast and crew singalong (which makes those voted off of "American Idol" seem pretty darn talented), and the theatrical trailer. Oh, and don't forget to visit Warner online.
This new HD DVD picture exhibits engulfing visuals that bring you into exquisite sets and locations (expectedly even better than the previously released DVD). Costume textures and fine details are amazingly rendered, building the facets of the masquerade. The color scheme is perfectly balanced, with natural fleshtones, rich and warm hues, and deep blacks. Reds pop from the screen with striking saturation, while snowy exteriors are cold and gray. The picture can have a slightly soft filmlike appearance at times, preserving the beautiful Panavision® cinematography. VC-1 Compression problems are hard to catch, as even smoke rising from candle flames lift with smooth precision. (Suzanne Hodges)
The 5.1-channel Dolby® Digital•Plus and 2.0-channel lossless Dolby TrueHD encodings of this soundtrack, like the other two Warner releases, play back at about 14 dB below the level of the original DVD using the same player. For more information on this, read the review of The Last Samurai. Like the DVD's Dolby Digital soundtrack, lip sync can be noticeably off in both encodings, especially when the actors are singing. The 5.1-channel track features well-mixed music around the soundstage, with a good use of the LFE to highlight the deepest bass. Voices are recorded well, and the improved resolution of the Dolby Digital•Plus soundtrack helps bring life to the presentation. The corner channels are incorporated nicely to infuse atmospheric reverberation on the dialogue, re-creating the various room's acoustics well. Dialogue timbre seems to be slightly off when compared to the singing, which might be due to the use of different microphones when recording on-set and in a sound room. It makes you wish they would just sing at all times, even belting out their thoughts and descriptions of the rooms they are in—oh, wait, they do. This is the first mass-marketed, prerecorded feature film to provide an encoding of its soundtrack in a lossless codec, allowing users to get closer than ever to hearing exactly what the filmmakers hear (for all you trivia buffs). But, in the bittersweet moment of the month, it is only a 2.0 stereo presentation. While the sonics are excellent, with slightly improved articulation over even the Dolby Digital•Plus encoding, the effectiveness of the soundtrack is rather limited because of the format. Deep bass is delivered well in this encoding, but bass management will need to be used for those of you not using full-range loudspeakers, as the bass response will often drop down to 25 Hz and below at relatively high levels. Both tracks are very good, but problems with the encoding level and the amount of channels used (in the case of TrueHD) limit the overall presentation. (Danny Richelieu)