Love Never Dies Blu-ray Review
Did you ever wonder what happened to the Phantom of the Opera? Me neither, but that didn’t stop Andrew Lloyd Weber, the composer responsible for the blockbuster stage musical "The Phantom of the Opera", from developing a sequel that reunites the music-loving Phantom and his muse Christine. The Blu-ray release of "Love Never Dies", filmed at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre, allows audiences who can’t afford to travel to Australia the chance to see the musical. That’s a good thing, because the play isn’t worth the trip.
When the sequel was first announced, I was excited. Weber’s "Phantom" is my favorite play of all time, and the thought of more of the same was undeniably intriguing. Then again, most sequels sound good at first. Until reality sets in and you realize the story that needed to be told has already been told.
Such is the case with "Love Never Dies", a perfectly serviceable musical that is completely unnecessary.
Set in Cone Island ten years after the original play, the Phantom has found a new lair amongst the carnival freaks that call it home. No longer able to live without his love Christine, he tricks the now famous opera star and her husband Raoul and son Gustave to visit America with hopes to rekindle their romance. Conveniently, Raoul is now a gambler and a drunk, making Christine’s decision a little easier this time around.
The emotional story is full of energy and passion, but "Love Never Dies" can’t escape the basic facts: it is a bigger and more extravagant production that lacks the intrigue and conflict of the original. In other words, it’s like so many other sequels. Bigger does not mean better.
On its own, "Love Never Dies" has some great set pieces and good musical numbers, a couple of which are worth listening to a few times. "Devil Take the Hindmost" is especially powerful.
But "Love Never Dies" is incapable of standing on its own. It is a sequel to one of the most well known and beloved musicals of all time. It is a continuation of a story that for a hundred years has seen Erik, the Phantom, sacrificing a life of happiness for the woman he loves. That is his ultimate decision, an intimately romantic move that makes "Phantom" the powerhouse it is.
"Love Never Dies" effectively destroys that ending. The Phantom is just as obsessive and as controlling as ever, and manipulates Christine to get his hands on her once again. In Weber’s original (and its predecessors), the Phantom is central to the story but often lurks in the background, a sympathetic but mysterious figure who controls Christine’s fate. "Love Never Dies" twists this dynamic, drawing the Phantom out of the shadows and putting Christine’s fate in her own hands, a much less interesting situation. The Phantom is as crazy as ever but the allure is gone; understanding what draws Christine to him is nearly impossible. Raoul has been transformed into an undesirable character, which means Christine must decide between a loser and a psychopath.
That’s not very romantic.
On its own, "Love Never Dies" is an okay musical, but "The Phantom of the Opera" was never meant to end this way. Fans of "Phantom" will inevitably see the play, but it’s better to put it off for as long as possible.