Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Love Never Dies [2010]

[Cross-posted on the Bad Movie Night Facebook page.]

It's been a while since we've had a musical, and some of us (okay, Kay) have been planning on watching this one for a while. "Love Never Dies" is the totally unwanted sequel to "Phantom Of The Opera." While the original musical "Phantom Of The Opera" was based off a novel from 1909 by Gaston Leroux, "Love Never Dies" was somewhat based off the 1999 novel fanfiction "Phantom In Manhattan" and oh boy, is it not like the original. "Phantom of the Opera" is an emotionally complex coming of age story for a middle aged man that has some psychological horror elements and "Love Never Dies" is a story about a love triangle where everyone is awful. For understanding sake, we watched the filmed 2011 Australian production of the show. Also for understanding sake, this is mainly what one would need to know about the original musical: a man with a deformed face who's a musical genius, unsocialized, and a murderer (The Phantom, Erik) trains a chorus girl he's obsessed with (Christine) to sing and blackmails the theater owners into putting her in lead roles and producing a musical he wrote. He kidnaps her, her fiance (Raoul) comes to save her, the Phantom lets them go after she shows pity for him and gives him a kiss, and he's never heard from again. Okay.

Ten years after the events of the original, the Phantom now owns a theater, circus, freak show, thing on Coney Island. Madame Giry, the ballet mistress in the original who was the Phantom's protector, works for him as does her daughter Meg, who was a ballet girl in the original and is now basically a stripper. Christine comes to New York to sing at the opening of a new theater and you find out Raoul is a drunk and a gambler who wasted his fortune and they have a kid named Gustave. One night the Phantom bursts into Christine's hotel room and they sing a song about how they banged on the night before her wedding to Raoul in spite of the fact that it doesn't make sense how she would even know where he was or why she would go back to him for a one night stand. He wants her to sing at his theater and threatens her son, because apparently he's still a jerk and learned nothing at the end of the previous musical. She agrees out of fear and an apparent addiction to abusive men. The Phantom suspects that Gustave is actually his son because he's musically talented, which kind of means nothing because his mom is an opera singer and Christine presumably had sex with both men in a short enough time frame that there's really no way to prove paternity.

In act two, Raoul has a sympathetic moment where he wonders why Christine loves him and then he makes a drunken bet with the Phantom where if Christine performs, Raoul will leave without her and leave her to the Phantom but if she doesn't the Phantom will give them enough money to pay off his debts and let them leave together. This is phenominally stupid since she signed a damn contract to sing and this also makes her an object with no option to make her own choice about which dude to stay with. In a subplot Madame Giry and Meg also don't want her to sing because they believe this will lead to the Phantom turning all his attention to her and them losing their jobs. There's a lot of build up and then she sings. Raoul leaves. She and the Phantom make out somewhat until she realizes her son is missing. Meg kidnapped him, literally to get the Phantom's attention, and then moves to shoot herself in the head because she's sad and crazy now. Meg and the Phantom struggle for the gun, Christine gets shot somehow, she tells Gustave the Phantom is his real dad, he runs off screaming, and Christine dies. Raoul and Gustave show up right after, the Phantom contemplates suicide until Gustave expresses kindness and acceptance towards him, ending the show IN THE EXACT SAME PLACE AS THE FIRST ONE. 

This show is terrible, primarily because the plot is mostly based around a poorly formed love triangle (or square if you think Meg has any part in it) and every character has become a piece of crap or, at minimum in the case of Christine, regressed to who they were before the first musical. The music varies from good ("Devil Take The Hindmost") to boring ("Look With Your Heart," "Love Never Dies," "Once Upon Another Time," heck most of the songs) to ear-splitting ("Bathing Beauty") to hilarious ("Beneath a Moonless Sky," "The Beauty Underneath" ((although to be fair this song is hilarious but also good))). Most of the comedy comes from melodrama like the Phantom bursting into the hotel in a fit of dry ice and booming music.

It's a decent bad movie pick for musical fans, really, as long as you can stand to see everything from "Phantom" go to hell. It's probably best watched with a drinking game for every time someone says "beauty" or "beautiful" but you may end up in the hospital.

Spoon Rating: 4.5

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