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Queen Of The Damned (2002)
Director: Michael Rymer

review by Jen Johnston

Vampire movies in general scare me to death. I tend to avoid them like the plague as my personal idea of a good time at the movies does not involve total cardiac arrest. There are times when I'll make exceptions. I went to see Shadow Of A Vampire because John Malkovich is amazing. I went to see Bram Stoker's Dracula because I am a glutton for punishment. And I went to see Interview With The Vampire and Queen Of The Damned because, though they may not be highbrow, I love Anne Rice books.
   This will be the only time that I will ever commit these words to a column with my name attached to them in any capacity... Tom Cruise had it right (sound of everyone I know collapsing of shock at me complimenting Tom Cruise). In Interview With The Vampire Cruise's Lestat was everything I imagined that character would be; charismatic, magnetic, and incredibly powerful. Cruise spent that movie zooming past everyone's expectations (including Rice's herself) and silencing most critics of his work in the process. In Queen Of The Damned Stuart Townsend (Wonderland, Shooting Fish) steps into the role, but instead of keeping in line with Rice's character, or even summoning some of the class of Cruise's portrayal, he turns him into a brat.
   Queen Of The Damned is the continuing story of Lestat, Rice's prodigal vampire. In this chapter he is flying in the face of tradition by emerging from the solitary life he is expected to lead to head a New Orleans rock band (think U2 meets Marilyn Manson). Lestat's music awakens Akasha, an ancient and very powerful vampire who once ruled through massacre and aspires to do so again.
Queen Of The Damned
Townsend as Lestat has none of Cruise's sexy, calculating animal. Instead he makes the absurd choice to portray him as a power hungry adolescent taking a measure of taste away from the movie. There's absolutely nothing memorable about Townsend's performance here save for its blandness. The late Aaliyah (Romeo Must Die) stars as Akasha, the ancient 'mother of all vampires.' Watching her performance, which consists mainly of her scrutinizing different people until they burst into flame, I do get the impression that she would have done quite well if the script hadn't been so atrocious. She does inject some magnetism into her role, though sadly it's not nearly enough to make up for the total lack on Townsend's part. However, since she is given control over what seems to be the only special effect in the film, and a fairly cheesy one at that, it detracts from her performance.
   The problems here are many. Queen Of The Damned possesses none of the originality of Interview With The Vampire, where death scenes were handled with taste and delicacy. In Queen Of The Damned every death scene is the same. (Scene one: vampire is hit by sunlight, bursts into flame and dissolves into ash. Scene two: Akasha squints at vampire, vampire bursts into flame and dissolves into ash. Scene three: Akasha points at vampire, vampire...) It smacks of the idea that absolutely no thought was poured into the smaller details of this movie at all. It is apparent from what everyone is wearing that the costume designer for this film has the fashion sense of cement. Queen Of The Damned possesses none of the spark and spice of Rice's first cinematic adaptation, and none of the talent involved are up to the level of their predecessors. Queen Of The Damned, if we dig down deep into our bag of euphemisms, sucks.

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Queen Of The Damned

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