Queen of the Damned 0.0 stars

Michael Rymer's turgid and narration-heavy adaptation of Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles picks up the story of Lestat (sans Tom Cruise) after the bored bloodsucker awakens from a hundred-year hibernation to an exciting new sound in the world: rock-and-roll. The notion of a vampiric pop star -- all lipstick and no bite -- seems feasible only as a spoof ("Like everyone else," remarks a young vampirologist, "I assumed Lestat was a joke"), and it doesn't help that Stuart Townsend gives the impression of a garage-band dilettante trying to look and sound as depraved and jaded as he always imagined Ozzy Osbourne. Nor is a take-me-I'm-yours groupie what we want in the way of a vampire hunter (the gamine Marguerite Moreau). But after all, this is Anne Rice and not Bram Stoker: Viva Los Vampires. Under the circumstances, the unapologetic campiness of the late R&B singer Aaliyah, as a slinky queen from Ancient Egypt in a strapless backless gold bra ("Dey believed in notting," surveying her kingdom of corpses. "Now dey are notting"), constitutes the highlight. To say so, though, is to run up a white flag. Vincent Perez, Lena Olin. 2002.

Duncan Shepherd

  • Rated R

This movie is not currently in theaters.

Comments

Jay Allen Sanford Nov. 9, 2009 @ 5:21 a.m.

It's never a good sign when the deleted scenes and DVD commentary are more enjoyable than the stand-alone film, but Queen of the Damned surprised me. It's got a lot of flaws - but it's not at all a horrible movie. It messed with and compressed/redid the Anne Rice novels so much that few people seem to like it - but I think if you go into without expecting it to be Anne Rice's Lestat, but rather a story loosely "inspired by" her books, it's a decent little goth movie.

Particularly the fully-realized music (and accompanying music videos, seen only in flashes during the movie but included on the DVD in their entirety), by guys from Korn, Static X and even Marilyn Manson (who has one great album, Mechanical Animals, his Ziggy Stardust glam tribute/ripoff). The whole vampire-goes-high-tech subtheme is intriguing, especially Lestat calling out his fellow vampires on the giant Times Square diamondvision screen ("Come out, come ouit, wherever you are"), and Lestat laying down inside a huge satellite dish and absorbing the entire world as it streams digitally and directly to his brain.

Some of the director's alterations from the two Rice novels the movie is based on (Vampire Lestat and Queen of the Damned) are actually improvements - such as keeping Lestat's debut concert to a one-time affair, thus explaining why the other vamps never went after him at other concerts (a vexing plothole in the Lestat novel). Also, having the big concert outdoors in the desert in a Burning Man-style gathering is FAR better than Rice's dinky little indoor concert hall melee - the ensuing onstage battles need to be matched by the epic size and scope of the event locale, so the movie version is much more dynamic, and really more correct and apropos than in the novel.

Stuart Townsend as Lestat deserves particular praise. While no Tom Cruise, he's a lot better than you'd expect, and certainly believable as a rock star. As surprisingly dynamic as Cruise was in Interview/Vampire, there's no WAY he could have done the rock star turn without making everyone laugh while remembering the tightie whitey dance from Risky Business!

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