Queen of the Damned (2002)
Director: Michael Rymer
The ever-so-arrogant Vampire Lestat (Townsend) wakes from his long beauty nap and ventures into the present. He quickly becomes a rock star, pisses off some other vamps in the process (they don’t dig the attention) and wakes up the mother of all plasma fiends, Queen Akasha (Aaliyah). Taste this blood?
I was a huge “Vampires Chronicles” junkie once and have devoured all of the books. I was fairly pleased with the film adaptation of “Interview With The Vampire” (I do think the second half felt rushed though) and was looking forward to the release of "Queen Of The Damned". Well, I saw the flick and even if you don’t take into account its literary roots, it just ain't all that.
This baby is basically a quickie interpretation of the “Queen Of The Damned” book, with a dash of “The Vampire Lestat” tossed in there for good measure. You would think that with so much to play with, the film would’ve managed to retain a pinch of the substance from its literary sources, but alas, no dice. This tramp never takes the time to go into anything beyond the surface and its main purpose is to show off zany shots, groovy lighting, Townsend shirtless and tight MTV-like editing. The characters are thinner than my last anorexic blind date and if it wasn’t for Townsend and Perez’s charisma, I wouldn’t have given a rat’s ass about anybody in this circus. At least they looked like they were having fun.
The plot is of the “connect the dots” school of screenwriting. It just happens with no heart put into it. There’s a love angle that’s handled quicker than my last pump, a subplot about Jesse’s heritage that’s thrown at us so fast that I recommend not blinking (why was Lena Olin in here again?) and I hear Armand (played by Antonio Banderas in "Interview..") is in the picture…could’ve fooled me! His character is just there. What about The Queen (Aaliyah), you may ask? Well, all I got out of her is that she must be PMS-ing or something, this gal is mucho pissed! Zero layers there either. At least she knows how to swing those hips (you’ll see)! I find it very odd that a film adaptation of a book that relies on its characters to drive its story decided to go so flimsy on the meat. I guess that’s Hollywood for ya!
And if you want to be able to even remotely appreciate this flick, you not only have to forget the books...but also forget that you’re watching a movie. Now being the “style” whore that I am, I was occasionally seduced by the polished look which this film sported. It gave me an eyeful and kept me engaged. I also loved the Lestat music videos (way kool), the Lestat rock concerts (here the film comes the closest to capturing the spirit of the books) and the occasional vamp brawls. I wasn’t too crazy about the “fast” visual effects that were used when the vamps hustled though, but hey, I took what I could and ran with it, so I almost made myself enjoy the fight sequences. Add to that, an amazing punch in the gut soundtrack and a short run-time and I got a movie (I use the term loosely) that I was able to digest on an eye/ear candy level.
It’s a shame that all of the relationships in this movie are barely given any screen time, that most of the characters are solely there as decorations, that all of the subplots are merely glanced over and that the script is in such a fucking hurry to reach its conclusion. Fun could’ve been had here. I mean Lestat in the present! Lestat a rock star! Come on! Could’ve had a blast there! Emotions also could’ve been displayed. Jessee’s plight, Jessee’s love for Lestat, Lestat’s own dilemma…throw me a damn bone! In the end, I never was given the time to feel for anything period and when the flick tried to go dramatic on my ass, it felt silly (the audience I was with laughed at all the wrong places) since nothing substantial preceded those “heavy” scenes. But hey, the images are pretty and those tunes…wow…good freaking shite! Take a bite out of this!
We get a nice ripped out heart, a kool beheading, some requisite blood sucking and burning vamps. Aight.
Stuart Townsend (Lestat) physically looks more like the Lestat that I envisioned in my mind when I read the books, than Tom Cruise. He does okay but he could’ve gone further with the part. I mean, you’re playing Lestat for Anne Rice’s sakes! Go nuts! But overall, he does all right. Aaliyah (Akasha) does what she can with her non-existent role. She looks good, is very theatrical (it fits the role) but speaks in a very distracting Hungarian accent. Wasn’t Akasha Egyptian? Marguerite Moreau (Jessee) also does fine, but her part is beyond thin. At least she’s hot. Vincent Perez (Marius) holds his own and manages to inject the occasional humorous touches. Lena Olin (Maharet) feels awkward, mainly because her part pops in out of left field and has zero meat to it. Paul McGann (David) says his lines, not much of a part.
T & A
Sad to say, but the highlight is Stuart Townsend (Lestat) shirtless. He should call “Calvin Klein” and hook himself up with an underwear ad or something. It's ladies night on this one.
Flash, flash, flash and more flash. Did Rymer know he had no screenplay to work with here? He sure does his best to compensate for the weak storyline with visual coating galore. He serves up some pretty slick images and kept me awake.
With Jonathan Davis (of Korn) doing the vocals for Lestat, Marilyn Manson and Static X slapping in some tunes, expect some solid hard-hitting stuff from this blood sucking beeyatch! I loved the soundtrack (and am downloading it as we speak…viva the internet!). The “Forsaken” ditty, in particular, fucking rocks!
The Lestat music videos are my favorite scenes in the film. I think that says a lot. Anne Rice purists will spit on this one and the average film geek will either bite its neck off, since it has no screenplay, or if they’re lucky (like me) be able to kind of enjoy it on its face value. Mark my words, this is a music video guys, with hard tunes, colorful images and wet gore. If you think you can find some satisfaction with only those three ingredients, then check it out, but if you’re expecting a real movie... stay away and read the books.
Aaliyah only appears in 3 scenes here, if you’re going for her, rent "Romeo Must Die" instead.
Tom Cruise was offered the part of Lestat but he turned it down.
Both Wes Bentley and Josh Hartnett were offered the part of Lestat.
Aaliyah died in a plane crash not long after principal photography was completed on this picture. Her brother came in post prod to dub some of her lines.