Queen of the Damned

For moviegoers, vampires are a familiar subject. They suck blood, live off the life of their victims, and are creatures of the night. So, an intriguing vampire film in today’s environment must be more about interesting characters than a familiar genre. 

Starring Stuart Townsend, Marguerite Moreau, Aaliyah, Vincent Perez

 

 

Directed by Michael Rymer

 

Based on Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles,” “Queen of the Damned” is a story that indeed gains momentum with rich characters, but then falls apart as they are callously forgotten.

Lestat de Lioncourt (Stuart Townsend) opens the film with a monologue, discussing the solitude of his life and the eternity his kind must endure alone. Then, he rises from the dead to modern America where he uses pop culture as his XXXXXXXmedium of assault. In an engaging premise, he forms a rock band, walks freely as a declared vampire, is broadcast on MTV and in Times Square, and is a media favorite.

Most intriguing is this film’s implication of the popular cultureXXXXX. As Lestat rises in fame and entices admirers, one cannot help but notice the brainwashed masses sucked dry of any individuality.

Yet, just as momentum builds, the film self-destructs. Its premise and its exposition give way to a marketing campaign so transparent and intrusive that even a passive moviegoer will be taken aback.

It is not the story of Aaliyah or the “queen” she plays, and she appears for exactly three reasons: to provide the film’s climax, cash in on her dead pop star status, and draw music fans to an unlikely genre.

Too cynical? You decide. Her character, Akasha, does not appear for a full forty minutes of the film, yet Aaliyah receives top billing and has been relentlessly promoted. She also is reduced to a sex object, with idiotic dialogue (“You’re bold. Just like your music”), one slow motion strut after another and a few token sex scenes to add a risqué feel.

Never is Akasha’s flawed character more inappropriate than in the film’s fifth climax (I counted), as the queen’s fate is decided. First, it idiotically features characters never previously introduced. Second, it occurs at least 15 minutes after the natural conclusion of Lestat’s tale-the only story in this film that anyone will care about. Finally, the film’s resolution rests on Akasha’s fate. Ultimately, to the doom of this scene and this film, she is a token character the audience simply could care less about. She is a distraction from the entertaining story she interrupted and leaves viewers feeling cheated out of both their time and their emotions.

 

– Steve Snyder

 

Open in theaters nationwide