Casting sucked. Nobody really fit their part as I envisioned it. Makeup was a joke - the Phantom without his mask looked like a guy who had just been punched in the eye. BFD. With the mask he looked like a hot Antonio Bandaras wanna be. Come to think of it, Bandaras would have been the perfect pick for that role. Gerald Butler also could not decide what he wanted his character to sound like. He has a terrific falsetto, but chose to not use it most of the time it was needed. As a tenor he's mediocre.
Emmy Rossum (playing Christine) has a lovely voice, but she cheated on the cadenza in her first number. Not a coloratura, I guess. She looks lovely, but I can't see two men fighting over her. Patrick Wilson as Raoul is dashing and looks good in a uniform, kind of Fabio without the pumped look. Another mediocre voice, but I have to admit there was a moment in their duet when he and Emmy showed some real chemistry, and you could tell they were having fun singing together.
Minnie Driver as the diva Carlotta was amazingly Not Minnie Driver. But again, her voice just wasn't up to the part. Even fading divas can still sing better than the average chorus girl.
Miranda Richardson as Madame Giry was excellent in black and white as a dowager, with no lines. Very expressive with economy of motion. Not so good when she had to speak. And finally, a word about Jennifer Ellison, who played Meg Giry, the Madame's daughter and like a sister to Christine. DDG. She should have played Christine - her I could see men fighting over. And she sang just as well as Emmy did.
There were some excellent special effects, well-done stuff with B&W of today's opera house becoming the living color of the past. Faded glory taken literally. The scenes in the Phantom's grotto were amazing, but way way WAY over the top. An underground passage which becomes a flooded channel which leads to a mist-covered lake divided by a portcullis, with candelabras rising lit from beneath the water? Give me a break.
There were a couple new bits of music, nothing major. For the most part it is true to the stage version, so kudos for that. The new song which plays under the closing credits was probably a ploy to grab a "best original song" Oscar, but it was a pretty lame song, not well done by whomever sang it.
One thing they did well - and I suspect this was not part of the stage play - was creating a mystery about what ever became of Christine and Raoul. The film answer this at the very end, in a charming way. I really liked this ending.