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Movie Muser

March 12, 2012

Kevin van der Ham

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Love Never Dies - DVD

An unforgettable music score, a classic love tale; exquisitely adapted from the stage to a film hit – all terms we can use to describe the film version of Andrew Loyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. However, sadly, we cannot say exactly the same for the sequel, Love Never Dies.

Set approximately 10 years after Phantom ends, Love Never Dies continues the story of the characters we met in the original. Madame (Maria Mercedes) and Meg Giry (Sharon Millerchip), as well as the Phantom (Ben Lewis), have relocated to Coney Island in Brooklyn. Here they have started a new life, whilst Christine (Anna O'Byrne), Raoul (Simon Gleeson) and their young son Gustave (Jack Lyll) have continued living in Paris.

We learn that Christine and Raoul have not been living the happiest of marriages, with Raoul having a gambling and alcohol problem. Christine travels with her family to New York to perform, in hope of making some money to maintain their lifestyle amidst Raoul gambling their money away. In Coney Island, The Phantom has a bit of freak show – a show with both singing and dancing, as well as an assortment of oddities. Here, he seems to have found a home. However on her arrival the love triangle between Christine, Raoul, and Phantom is reignited, complicated further by Christine's son, Gustave.

Making a sequel is never easy, as fans of the original will always make comparisons. With this in mind, and giving Loving Never Dies a fair chance, we cannot ignore that this production has serious merit. It was filmed at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, Australia. It is not a filmed in typical movie fashion, but is actually a live filming of the actual stage show. The execution of this is definitely sublime. Although it is very apparent that you are watching a recording of a live show, it has been filmed and edited in such a way as to take you right in, as if it was actually a movie filmed in a studio. The cast do an exquisite job and sing and perform the songs wonderfully. The set design is equally amazing and the wonder and thrill of 'Mister Y's Phatasma' is portrayed beautifully.

Regrettably, it's the songs and the plot that let this film down. We can't help but compare to the original, and in these two important elements the sequel simply doesn't match up to its predecessor. In Phantom, songs such as 'Think of me', 'Music of the Night' and of course the absolutely iconic 'Phantom of the Opera' itself are unforgettable. In Love Never Dies the songs are actually quite the opposite, unremarkable and forgettable. The story too is also not great, and compared with the timeless love story of Phantom, it seems a little ridiculous actually.

Overall Verdict: Love Never Dies is a sterling effort and if it's viewed on its own it is both enjoyable and a pleasure to watch. However, for fans of Phantom of the Opera, this sequel just doesn't match up. Throughout the film, you keep waiting for songs from the original to start playing, and as none of the famous ones do, you do end up feeling like something is missing. This is a great film and is recommended viewing for musical theatre fans, but it's missing the magic that the original music brought that we all fell in love with in the first place.

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