Review Date: November 21, 1999
Released by: A-Pix
Release date: 9/19/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16:9 - Yes | P&S - Yes (side b)
A baby is abandoned by his parents at birth. He is put in a basket and sent down a stream that leads into the Paris sewers. Here the baby is raised by rats and other creatures of the underworld. Many years later an opera house is built above the sewers and the once orphaned child, now a man, lurks in the shadows of the opera house. Many claim to have seen him but none have looked him directly in the eyes and lived to tell about it. They call him "The Phantom".
The Phantom (Julian Sands) falls in love with Christine (Asia Argento), a beautiful aspiring singer who works in the opera house. Christine is torn between her love for The Phantom and Raoul (Andrea Di Stefano), a mortal man who is also in love with Christine. Christine has a psychic connection with The Phantom and believes he is the one for her. Soon, however, Christine discovers that there's more to The Phantom than she originally thought.
This film just didn't seem very Argento to me. I think most Argento fans who love films like Suspiria, Tenebre and Phenomena will be disappointed here. It's lacking the style and gore that Argento normally brings to his films. This film just seems like a knock-off of an idea that's been done too many times before. The film was trying to become a love story with the horror mix thrown in, but I personally do not think it succeeded. The acting was decent but I found the plot to be a bit confusing. First, there is The Phantom himself - the cover of the DVD shows someone behind a mask, which you assume is The Phantom. However, throughout the entire film The Phantom never wears a mask. He's not hideous, he's just a normal man who was raised by rats (there's another complaint too - raised by rats?). Now it's true that The Phantom was mysterious and he hid out a lot so that somewhat explains him being called "The Phantom", but I expected him to be a bit hideous and perhaps hide behind a mask until the end of the film. After all this is Phantom of the Opera. If they want to change it this much (and I really think they did) they should've named it something else. Next, this girl Christine who is in love with The Phantom hates him one second and loves him the next. It's never clearly explained why this is, I just assumed it was because of this psychic link they have.
One part of the film I did enjoy was the underworld scenes that took place in the caves underneath the opera house. The spider webs hanging about, critters running around, darkness and eerie feeling it gave worked quite well for me. It's not enough to save the film, at least for me.
Regardless of how I feel about the plot on this film, I tip my hat to A-Pix for creating such a superb DVD in terms of visual quality. The film is presented in its original theatrical ratio 1.85:1 and it is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TVs. A P&S transfer is also available on side b of the DVD. The image is crisp and clear throughout the entire film; no glitches of any sort were observed at all. The colors were rich and well balanced; blacks were solid.
The sound is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Definitely a great job done with the sound on this one. All speakers were quite active throughout the film, and I was impressed to hear so much activity from the rear speakers, where normally a lot of these films with Dolby Digital 5.1 don't use much of the rears. Dialogue was clear and audible throughout the entire film.
Not loaded with extras, but for the $24.98 retail price it's not too bad. The DVD contains a small photo gallery, filmographies for director and actors, theatrical and video trailers, a Fangoria article on Argento's Phantom of the Opera, an interview with Julian Sands, and various Behind-the-Scenes footage.
I think the best extra on this DVD would have to be the Behind-the-Scenes footage. While there's nothing very revealing or enlightening seen, it was certainly nice to see numerous shots of Dario Argento directing. Again, I'm not a die hard Argento fan but I do enjoy a number of his films and I consider him to be a talented director. Also included is a short interview with Julian Sands, the actor who plays "The Phantom". It was nice to hear that Julian is a big Argento fan as well as a big Hammer fan.
Quality wise this DVD is superb. The sound and transfer are top notch, and there are even a fair amount of extras to top it off. Whether you'll enjoy the film or not is up to you. I'd certainly recommend renting it first, however, to determine if it is something you'll like. There are a handful of gore scenes, but I don't think there's enough to satisfy the typical "gore hound" or the die hard Argento fans.
Movie - C
Image Quality - A
Sound - A
Supplements - C+
- Running time - 1 hour 40 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
- Photo Galleries
- Theatrical & Video trailers
- Fangoria article
- Interview with Julian Sands
- Behind-the-Scenes footage