On film a flop
These songs millions adore
Please make them stop
How can I put to words
The pain I hear?
The Phantom of the Opera is worse
Than I could fear
Schumacher and Webber
Gaudy and garishly
Don't be fooled or coerced
The show's a Broadway hit that ran for years
The story is drivel
It's like some movie curse
Stop singing! When will it end?
The HD DVD:
Please note that the star rating scales for video and audio are relative to other High Definition disc content, not to traditional DVD. If a movie were to receive a higher score on the DVD scale than the HD scale, that does not necessarily mean that the DVD disc looks better than the HD disc. It just means that the DVD compares better in relation to other DVDs than the HD disc compares to other HD discs.
The film opens with and has occasional interludes in grainy black and white. The grain looks a little noisy, but I suspect that it was added digitally for effect and is not genuine film grain. From there the movie segues directly into glorious color, which the HD DVD delivers with astonishing image quality. The deep, rich colors pop off the screen in every vibrant shade. The picture is razor sharp with fine object detail visibility far surpassing anything possible on standard DVD, yet without a trace of edge enhancement artifacts. The contrast range is perfectly delineated with rich blacks, very good shadow detail, and a fine sense of depth. Since this is a launch title, I hesitate to rate the disc too highly, but at this point in time I can't find anything serious to complain about.
The Phantom of the Opera HD DVD is not flagged with an Image Constraint Token and will play in full High Definition quality over an HD DVD player's analog Component Video outputs.
Perhaps since this is a musical I had much higher expectations for it, but it really seems like there's something wrong with the disc mastering that's more problematic than the other Warner Bros. HD DVDs. Although the track has a lot of bass, I found the fidelity in the mid-range of the audio spectrum to be greatly lacking. The music sounds thin and anemic, and the vocals have mediocre intelligibility. I don't have the DVD edition available for direct comparison, but I'm told that it has better audio quality.
The disc also contains a copy of the movie's soundtrack in the new Dolby TrueHD lossless audio format. At the time of this writing, current HD DVD players only support TrueHD up to 2 channels regardless of what's encoded on the disc. I tried to play the track in that configuration, but I don't think my hardware is quite compatible with it because the sound quality I got was pretty poor. For the time being, I'm chalking this up to a hardware limitation and not necessarily something wrong with the disc.
A French dub track is also available in DD+ 5.1. Optional subtitles include English, English captions for the hearing impaired, French, or Spanish. All of the optional subtitles are authored to appear half-in/half-out of the 2.35:1 movie image, which is very annoying for many front projection users.
All of the supplements from the DVD appear to have carried over, including the previously hidden sing-along easter egg (now present out in the open). In the interests of time, and because you'd have to put a gun to my head to force me to watch one second more of anything to do with this movie, I'll just list the supplements here. For a more detailed look at each, I must direct you to the more flattering DVD review of the movie by Scott Lecter.
The HD DVD format is still young. Better titles will come. No matter how desperate you may be for High Definition content to play on your home theater screen, I cannot in good faith recommend this crap to anyone who isn't already part of the Phantom cult. Even taken as pure home theater demo material, although the disc looks great it has serious audio problems. Don't buy it, don't rent it, don't look at it on the store shelf. Just walk right by and find something better to waste your time with.