May 28, 2012

Filthy Review - Love Never Dies

Love Never Dies (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera is a musical that has run and run, and is without doubt an absolutely terrific slice of entertainment. The Blu-ray release of the 25th anniversary show at London’s Royal Albert Hall, which I also reviewed, is visually and musically stunning, and really is worth checking out whether you are already a fan, or are just curious as to what all the fuss is about. Not wanting to rest on his laurels (does he ever?), Webber decided to create a sequel to Phantom, entitled Love Never Dies, and recorded this performance in Melbourne, Australia.

Love Never Dies is set 10 years after the events of The Phantom of the Opera and the Phantom managed to escape the mob and make his way to Coney Island, New York, where he creates the Phantasma show. Still, he longs to see his beloved Christine again, so he sends an anonymous request to her to come and make her American debut. Christine, along with her husband Raoul, who jumps at the chance because he has gambled the family’s fortune away, and son Gustave make the long journey across the Atlantic.

The core of the story is the classic love triangle between Christine, Raoul and the Phantom, but there is also the story of Meg and Madame Giry, both of whom have helped the Phantom and Meg in particular, who is a friend of Christine’s and now a vaudeville singer, who believes the Phantom will help propel her to stardom.

Love Never Dies, as a spectacle is quite impressive; the sets are lavish and the performances are really quite excellent. Ben Lewis as The Phantom is fantastic and really gives a convincing performance; his singing in particular is terrific. However, as good as this show is, it is a sequel to one of the most beloved and well known musicals of recent years, so it has a hell of a lot to live up to. As a stand-alone piece it probably would have worked better, instead of living in the shadows of its predecessor. What it really lacks is that one song, that one hook that draws the viewer in. I really was hoping for the inclusion of at least one rendition of the title track of The Phantom of the Opera. Instead the music just teases at this, with just a couple of bars here and there.

That all being said it is still an entertaining ride, and one that is performed incredibly well. The strength of Lewis’ performance carries the show and for this alone makes it a worthwhile viewing, especially on Blu-ray which looks wonderful and sounds terrific. So, whilst not in the class of The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies is good even if it never achieves greatness.

Love Never Dies is released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 29th from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

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