Director Joel Schumacher treats Andrew Lloyd Webber's monumental coup de theatre
, whose lavish design and crashing chandelier helped distract theatergoers from the breathtaking banality of the score, as though it were the jewel in the crown of contemporary musical theater. But beneath the bombast it's pure paste and tinsel and, robbed of the thrill of live performance, the show's deficiencies are glaringly apparent. Schumacher shuffles the play's chronology, adds flashbacks to flesh out the main characters and bookends Webber's story, based on Gaston Leroux's much-adapted 1911 novel, with black-and-white sequences set in 1919. The contents of the dilapidated O...