Queen Of The Damned

on February 22, 2002 by Tim Cogshell
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   This film adaptation of the third installment in author Anne Rice's “Vampire Chronicles”--“Interview with a Vampire” and “The Vampire Lestat” being the first two--makes up for the noticeable absence of a movie version of the second book in the series by being a veritable "Vampire Lestat vs. The Queen of the Damned," accounting for both the missing volume and the unintentional camp.

   Lestat is the central figure in the movie, its title notwithstanding. He has slept for 200 years and wakes to a modern world where the closest thing to a god is a rock star--that's almost a quote--so he becomes one. Not a completely unbelievable scenario given the likes of Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson, not to mention their progenitors, Ozzy, Alice and Kiss. One noteworthy distinction might be that none of the latter suck. Lestat does--figuratively and literally. Townsend's lackluster rock violinist with a vampire motif as leader of a worldwide cult taxes the necessary suspension of disbelief. Suffice it to say Stuart Townsend--who was better in last year's "Simon Magus"--is no Tom Cruise, who played the role in "Interview with a Vampire" (and was a good deal better than had been expected).

   Bored with living in the shadows, Lestat tells the world that he is a vampire, violating their most important code. This draws the ire of his kind, who set out to kill him. It also awakens the mother of all vampires, Akasha, played by the young ill-fated singer-turned-actress, Aaliyah. She exhibits a more honed delivery than in her debut film, "Romeo Must Die," and an enormous potential that, due to her untimely death in a plane crash, must tragically go unfulfilled.

   The formula for the film is the same Rice used in penning the books, despite the fact that the writers play fast and loose with the characterizations and the storyline. The problems are the same as the movie's source material as well: no sense of real jeopardy and no interest in the fate of the characters, good or evil. This is both overdone and underdeveloped, only sporadically eliciting the occasional "…that was cool." But any episode of TV's “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is better. Starring Aaliyah, Stuart Towsend, Marguerite Moreau and Lena Olin. Directed by Michael Rymer. Written by Scott Abbott and Michael Petroni. Produced by Jorge Saralegui. A Warner Bros. release. Horror/Thriller. Rated R for vampire violence. Running time: 97 min

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