The Queen of the Damned
Directed by Michael Rymer
Review by Eugene Kopman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is the third installment of Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles. But what happened to the second one, The Vampire Lestat, which follows Interview With The Vampire? As far as I was told, Tom Cruise wanted a nice chunk of change to reprise the role of Lestat and even though Anne Rice agreed to his price the studio said "NO" and for the third (well, second) film they got Stuart Townsend to play the vamp.
There are two main plots in The Queen of the Damned. The first revolves around Lestat (Townsend) and the other around Jesse (Marguerite Moreau), a student of the supernatural who wants to study vampires, especially Lestat.
Lestat joins a rock band and becomes the biggest rock star in the world. The problem arises when Lestat's lyrics come into question. The lyrics, supposedly, reveal vampire secrets, which is unheard of. Lestat promises a concert for everyone in Death Valley, California, and tells all the vampires to "Come out, come out, wherever you are." Not only does this encourage vampires to kill Lestat, but it also awakens Akasha (Aaliyah, in her second and final performance), the queen of the damned, the original vampire and the mother of all vampires. Akasha is closer to the devil then anyone else because he made her. At the concert, Akasha decides save Lestat from being killed and makes him her new king to rule the world by killing everyone in sight. After a while, Lestat realizes that Akasha must be killed in order to save himself and everyone in existence.
Jesse is an orphan who, until the age of 6, was raised by her aunt Maharet (Lena Olin). Maharet and her clique are all vampires. Jesse never knew that, but always felt some kind of a connection to the supernatural world. She now works as a watcher for a London organization that observes and records vampires. Her boss David (Paul McGann) urges Jesse to stay away from that world to protect her. David has an obsession: Marius (Vincent Perez), a man who made Lestat a vampire. Marius is part of Maharet's clique. Pretty much everything and everyone is connected in some way. But what brings them all together is the agreement that Akasha must die for the sake of everyone, living and dead.
Anne Rice wrote the screenplay for Interview With the Vampire; too bad she didn't do the same for this film. Since I haven't read the book, I had yet another consultant. She told me that the book was butchered. For starters the third book had Louis, a character so well-played by Brad Pitt in Interview -- this movie didn't. In the book, Maharet is blind and has a sister; none of this is even mentioned in the movie. There are also two big differences but if I mention them, I will ruin the movie.
Townsend was a disappointing Lestat; he did not have the presence that Cruise had on the screen. He also had a tendency to overact. Aaliyah, whose character was promoted as the lead, was hardly in the movie. It took too long for her and once she was on, the movie was nearly done. Aaliyah was to Queen of the Damned what Matt Damon was to Saving Private Ryan. Also, the characters Lestat and Akasha were very underdeveloped in that didn't give the actors much to work with. Moreau, who is known for the Mighty Ducks movies, was dull. She had a very good character to work with, but didn't do it justice. I really enjoyed the supporting performances of Perez, Olin, and McGann, who should have been the stars of this movie. Supporting roles were fully developed characters with a lot of internal conflict played by very good actors, what more does a person need -- better leads, which this movie didn't have. I also enjoyed some of the directing aspects of the film, including the movement of the vampires and the dark settings of the streets. Just like Gosford Park, it took too long to set up the plot, and when the movie finally found a nice pace, it was over.
P.S. - Another mediocre film with a great soundtrack (see I Am Sam). With original songs written by Jonathan Davis of Korn and other modern hard rock songs, the music complemented the film and was a better aspect of it.
For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
The Queen of the Damned (2002)
Video Pick of the Week
Guide to Star Ratings