10/16/13

QUEEN OF THE DAMNED - REVIEW


Many years after Interview With The Vampire, we got Queen Of The Damned, a movie based on another part of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles.

No Tom Cruise this time, sadly, the role of the vampire Lestat instead being played by Stuart Townsend who seems to get the character yet somehow lacks the convincing theatricality and threatening cruelty of Cruise's original performance. Townsend's Lestat is the mischievous, camp killer you'd expect but there's a wooden, overdone delivery to his lines and his voice-overs which tends to distract more than anything. The film sees Lestat wake up from a long slumber in order to, I kid you not, start a goth rock band in order to piss off other vampires who don't necessarily want humans to learn about their existence. This bold move awakes Akasha, the Queen Of The Damned, the mother of all vampires. She is played by the late Aaliyah, this was her second and last performance in a film before her tragic, untimely passing. Believe it or not, Anne Rice's novel is actually pretty epic and is much more about the origins of vampires in general and how this whole thing comes at a crossroads in modern times than it is about a vampire rock band. A lot of effort is put into describing Akasha and many other characters who are barely there at all in the movie adaptation. I'm thinking of Lena Olin's Maharet, for example. The film is disappointingly slight and its whole plot feels crammed into the last 20 minutes, a real shame because there was potential there.

It's a great story told in a terrific vampire novel and the film, at least, is visually creative, boasts some cool music and is very entertaining throughout. It's just a shame that so many performances in the film fall either completely flat or are just kinda... bad. Plus it pulls a Pitch Black and wastes Claudia Black once again, and that's just annoying. Effects-wise, it's a mixed bag: some good, some crappy. Actually, the whole thing is a mixed bag. For every good aspect of the film, like Vincent Perez's Marius or the film's unique enough atmosphere, there's something that doesn't work, poor character development, rushed ending etc. Akasha is built-up as this super-powerful character but she is given like 5 minutes of screen time. Who was she? Why is she the way she is? What did she really want? You'll just have to read the book, I'm afraid. As much as its short-comings frustrate me, Queen Of The Damned remains a guilty pleasure for me. There's a good vampire film in there somewhere, it's just really, really well hidden. Regardless, I vastly prefer it to the likes of Twilight or many other half-assed vampire films out there. Ultimately, though, this is an extremely disappointing adaptation of Anne Rice's excellent novel and an uneven, occasionally clunky vampire film.

Overall, this is really one for fans of the genre, of light-weight goth music and of Rice's works but be warned, even those people will be frustrated with the film. There are some good idea in there and the film has a style of its own which makes it somewhat charming but all in all, it's a missed opportunity.

Guilty pleasure.

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