The movie version of Lloyd Webber's smash hit does to the music what the music did to the words and story: It distracts the mind and cajoles the eyes to the point that one doesn't really care that everything the ears are hearing is pure nonsense.
If you want something more from musicals than a single syrupy hit, though -- and have fond memories of the Phantom as our most romantic of monsters -- then seek out the old Lon Chaney silent instead, and put on your own darn music.
The falling chandelier, the signature moment of Phantom, has been moved from the end of the first act to the climax of the movie -- by which point non-devotees may need to be roused from their sleep by their companions.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's kitschy theatrical spectacle is now a kitschy theatrical movie, a mix of melodrama, horror, romance, mystery and melody heaped together into a cinematic smorgasbord, one heavy in starch.
It's a slow-moving orgy of lowbrow grandiosity that's as tedious as it is overblown and pretentious. Songs, scenes, dance numbers, lyrics and set pieces all blend together into an indistinct, ludicrously self-serious mush.
The Phantom is the furthest thing from a monster, and the movie holds no threat whatsoever, unless you have a morbid fear of gilded staircases, seductive lighting, brocade costumes and overwrought, over-orchestrated pop balladry.
It's questionable whether fans of the musical will be enamored with this adaptation. The energy that characterizes a live performance is absent, resulting in a production that often feels sluggish and slow-moving.
Watching the passionless Phantom, with its geriatric story-framing device, gooey dimestore romanticism and tawdry pop ballads about unrequited yearning, feels akin to dying and waking up in your parents' easy-listening-radio hell.