Stuart Townsend, Aaliyah, Vincent Perez, Lena Olin
Okay... I'm not going to lie. When I first thought about
going to see this movie, I figured it would stink like bad
milk. The script was an amalgam of two books, the soundtrack
was being put together by the lead signer of Korn and Anne
Rice had basically disavowed anything to do with the film.
All three seemed to be a kiss of death to the success of this
film. Fortunately, the director and production staff seemed
to care enough to do something with what they had.
The story starts as the vampire Lestat wakes after a long,
self-imposed slumber and decides to be the lead singer in
a heavy metal/goth band, which he uses to make his vampirism
public. The main focus of the beginning portion of the movie
is to show how Lestat became the vampire he is after being
"made" and spending time with Marius. During his time with
the older vampire, he discovers the statues of the vampire
queen, Akasha and her king, which in fact, are the actual
vampires who had turned to statues through years of inactivity.
When Lestat finally goes to perform his grand concert in Death
Valley, after calling out his fellow vampires, Akasha awakens
and decides to make him her new consort so that they can bleed
to world dry as she did in the past.
For those who read the books, you're probably cringing after
reading the slight synopsis which manages to cram two books
into the length of an hour and forty minutes. In fact, a number
of the characters and events were merged or dropped all together
to make the film flow without a high degree of confusion.
If you can get past the "Cliff Notes" version that the script
seems to take on, you'll find a good movie underneath.
Stuart Townsend performs excellently as Lestat, the subtly
egotistical vampire who no longer desires to hide in the shadows.
Vincent Perez's Marius is firmly established as the older,
more mature and cautious vampire. When Aaliyah is on-screen,
she does manage to command a high degree of attention (even
though I think a little more time should have been spent fleshing
her out). A lot of the lesser characters just aren't on screen
long enough to give the actors a chance to establish their
Both the direction and photography are well executed. The
soundtrack is even well performed, with enough variety and
style to pull of the whole "rockstar vampire" theme. Although
I think there were a few times where more traditional music
would have served better, the heavy metal/Goth music served
it's purpose and was excellently written and performed.
Where the movie falters for me is that the movie needed another
20 minutes of explanation for all of the bits that non-Rice
readers are sitting there going "What was that about?" Jesse's
infatuation with Lestat is apparently just assumed, with very
little basis as to why she does the things she does and the
cast of older vampires that turn up at the end of the movie
are never really even given more than a second thought. Both
Lestat and Akasha would have also been better served with
a little more history and character depth.
Don't go into this movie expecting a slasher-style vampire
story. Anne Rice's vampires have always been more about internal
conflict and character interaction. This story is much more
about the consequences of Lestat's indiscretion than about
the queen of vampires. Considering how much more of the film
is focused on Lestat's character, it should have been called
"The Vampire Lestat". The film, on the whole, is a well done
tale that needs just a little more story to flesh things out.