Matthew Lickona 5 p.m., May 19
Queen of the Damned
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.
- Big Screen: "Anne Rice Offshoot Doesn't Deserve Bad Rap" • May 29, 2011