Queen of the Damned
Starring:
Stuart Townsend, Aaliyah, Vincent Perez, Lena Olin
Directed By:
Michael Rymer
Grade
B

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 characters.

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.

- - Vane

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