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May 29, 2012

Rachel Cericola

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Love Never Dies Blu-ray Review

The Film

Creating a sequel is always a slippery slope. Without a doubt, it's always compared to the original, and unless we're talking Weekend at Bernie's and Weekend at Bernie's II, there's usually a certain standard that the sequel needs to uphold to. That's why it's sort of puzzling that Andrew Lloyd Webber would bother with a sequel to one of the most beloved musicals of all time, The Phantom of the Opera.

He did bother, though, and now we have Love Never Dies. According to Wikipedia, Webber at one point said that Love Never Dies was not a sequel to Phantom. However, it's so obvious that even he couldn't be convinced, later changed his mind, and there it is for all to see, right on the cover of this new Blu-ray.

It makes sense, since this musical picks up 10 years after the Phantom has moved to Paris. He's hanging in Coney Island, with the freaks and the fun. However, he's having a hard time without Christine Daaé, his ladylove.

Webber was right in one respect: A viewer doesn't have to see or know Phantom of the Opera to enjoy Love Never Dies. I'm not sure why they'd do that, but it's certainly an option. If you haven't see Phantom, your time would be better spent doing that, as this is an inferior production. It's lovely, though -- and there are plenty of Phantom fans that will appreciate being able to enjoy this one at home.

The Picture

Love Never Dies is heavy with the mood lighting, with plenty of dark blue lights creating on-stage ambience. That's nice for a stage production, but doesn't do this 2.35:1 transfer any favors in some scenes. Blacks crush a bit and that lighting really drowns out some of the details. Once the production brightens up a bit, there are some wonderful colors and details here. It's during those moments that you'll get a nice taste of this lavish stage production. Even with the darker imagery, fans will not be disappointed.

The Sound

Like the image, the DTS-HD Master Audio will please viewers, as it does the musical some justice. The vocals are bold and packed with emotion. By far, that is this track's strongest suit. The orchestra never overpowers the on-stage performance, but occasionally dominates the soundfield for a nice little wake-up call.

The Extras

Whether or not you like the actual production, if you're going to bother with Love Never Dies, the lone making-of featurette is a must. It's less than 15 minutes, but covers some of the cast, the characters, and of course, the comparison to the original. Andrew Lloyd Webber even makes an appearance. That said, it would have been nice if the composer received something a bit lengthier or provided a commentary track.

Final Thoughts

It's hard to live up to a production as iconic as The Phantom of the Opera -- and Love Never Dies certainly proves that point. If you hold the musical up on a pedestal, you may want to steer clear of this production. It really does nothing for the legacy. That said, there are many fans that will want to check this one out, and will be delighted with the audio and video presented here.


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