*** Official "THE QUEEN OF THE DAMNED" Review Thread!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Scott Weinberg, Feb 22, 2002.

  1. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

    Oct 3, 2000
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    Hi all. You know I dig horror movies, particularly the charmingly goofy ones. With that in mind, here's my review for the new Anne Rice adaptation, The Queen of the Damned.
    After all of the hardship and tumult surroundung this production, it would be great to announce that Queen of the Damned somehow turned out to be a fun little horror flick. Unfortunately, that’s not even almost the case, and the only real entertainment you’ll derive from this choppy and sloppy movie will be from unintentional giggles – several of them.
    The birth of this Anne Rice adaptation has been a messy one indeed. Tom Cruise turned down the chance to reprise his role of the moody vampire Lestat, second choice Wes Bentley (American Beauty) dropped out at the last minute, Josh Hartnett (Pearl Harbor) also passed on the gig, and producers scrambled to hire Stuart Townsend (About Adam), an actor who had recently been cast in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, only to be fired by director Peter Jackson after one day of filming. (He was set to play Aragorn, a role that would quickly be filled by Viggo Mortensen.) Anne Rice, apparently concerned that her novels would be adapted less than successfully, offered to throw together a screenplay for free. Warner casually ignored her offer, opting to hire two younger TV writers to do the job. Most tragically, lead actress Aaliyah (Romeo Must Die) was killed in a plane crash as the production was coming to a close, thereby requiring some hasty re-edits and a creepy voice-over dub – delivered by the actresses brother.
    Based on the third novel of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (after Interview with the Vampire and The Vampire Lestat), Queen of the Damned re-introduces us to the devious Lestat as he is awakening from a century-long slumber in a New Orleans crypt. (How Lestat could have participated in his earlier “Interview” while being asleep for 100 consecutive years is only one of the more minor flaws in logic that appear throughout the film.) Immediately after getting a taste of the modern world of sleazy women and rock music, Lestat sets out to become a massive rock star. OK, perhaps “sets out” isn’t the right phrase, since the vampire becomes a world-renowned rocker in less time than it took you to read this sentence.
    Discontent with his eternal miseries, Lestat hopes to provoke the undead minions across the globe to end his suffering. To this end, he liberally breaks the “vampire code of eternal secrecy” by filling his rock lyrics with all sorts of arcane vampire information, methods and recipes. Lestat’s sudden notoriety catches the eye of a British organization which is dedicated to observing (but never intruding upon) supernatural phenomenon. One such member, the plucky and doe-eyed Jesse, learns more than she wants to about Lestat, and sets off to discover his secrets. OK, perhaps “sets out” isn’t the right phrase this time either, as Jesse gets chummy with Lestat (the world’s biggest rock star, don’t forget) in about 9 seconds.
    Plotwise, that’s basically it. The rest of the film is a tiresome concoction of cheesy CGI effects, atrocious acting performances and…oh yeah, the QUEEN! I knew I forgot something! Lest you think the title character (the one plastered all over the posters and TV ads) should prove to be integral to a film’s plot, Queen of the Damned ends that idea right away. Aaliyah’s role amounts to approximately 17 minutes of the film’s running time, and most of that is during the truly illegible finale.
    Back when Interview with the Vampire was nearing production, Anne Rice made a national spectacle of herself by taking out a full-page ad in Variety Magazine stating that Tom Cruise was totally wrong for the role of Lestat. While I don’t think Interview ranks among Cruise’s best performances, it’s generally accepted that he acquitted himself quite well in the role. My question to Anne Rice is simply this: Where’s your full-page ad NOW? If you thought Tom Cruise was the wrong actor to play Lestat, I cannot IMAGINE what you think of Stuart Townsend!
    With a complexion that would make an albino look like George Hamilton, an accent that ranges from Hungarian to German to Yiddish and face that looks like Johnny Depp after about 3,000 bee stings, Townsend is a grade-A B-movie hoot. If melancholy mugging and nonstop frothmouth are ever considered art, Townsend’s performance will win a retroactive Oscar. Faring even more ridiculously is poor Aaliyah herself. I realize it’s a touchy subject considering that the girl is now deceased, but if WB wants to release a movie with her in it, I figure her performance is fair game. Simply put, she’s fall-on-the-floor funny in this movie. In a bad way.
    While any movie that features such a wretched screenplay, several terrible performances and some truly atrocious editing techniques would be easy to bash, there are some components that are not entirely awful. Director Michael Rymer (In Too Deep) and his production designers have done a bag-up job in making Queen of the Damned at least look quite impressive. A handful of (very brief) action sequences are welcome sights, despite the nonstop overuse of dead vampires caught in full CGI “meltdown”.
    The set design and visual flair evident in the movie’s first half (particularly in the relatively entertaining flashback sequences) manage to keep the movie afloat, but the weight of too much overt stupidity, zeppelin-size plot holes, stunning lapses in simple storytelling, and (again) the pathetically choppy editing force this one to sink without a trace.
    ([​IMG][​IMG] out of 5 [​IMG]s)
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    Real Name:
    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for The Queen of the Damned. Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues, please post your discussion comments in the Official Discussion Thread for this film which can be found at this link.
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
  3. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
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    Well, I'll give them this. They didn't make Interview with a Vampire II. I almost wish that they didn't feel compelled to use Lestat at all, because it took some time to divorce Tom Cruise's version from the one that Stuart Townsend gives us. They are completely different animals, and I gave up trying to piece together the chronology presented by both movies.
    This was a fair movie, but I have to say it was a memorable as Dracula 2000 was. While they have the wealth of background and atmosphere of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles to play with, they stuck to the basics and never tried to do much with it. You're presented right from the beginning with a basic premise that really should have been a separate movie in it's own right (that of Lestat bringing himself and the rest of his kind in the light and the repercussions from that). There is so much that can be gleaned from this premise, and instead it's used as a throw away plot filler in favor of the less interesting Queen of the Damned concept. I can understand the concept of the 'ancient evil', but it's been used so much and so often that there was no chance for it to break any new ground. We're also presented with a bit of Lestat history that was acceptable, although not particularly necessary. Again, many parts of this film felt like filler material or like the intercutting of an anthology of stories that didn't quite gel together. I haven't read the source material, so that actually might be the case. But as filmed, I don't think it worked very well. The ending was a bit more drawn out than necessary, and the dialogue really falls apart. As Akasha delivers her lines at the end, she really didn't fit the 'Queen' bill as she had been filling throughout the movie. Especially one that has been out of action for so many 100s of years. It really took me out of the movie. There are a number of big plot holes for this movie. For one, the vampires are mad at Lestat for shedding light on their world. So what do they intend to do? Kill him at his concert before all of his fans. Yep, that's going to keep the public from knowing vampires are real.
    The casting wasn't all that bad, although Vincent Perez was the only person of note to give more than necessary. Townsend goes for the full Goth Euro Vampire motif and never strays. Aaliyah does a fair job exuding menace and not a small amoung of sexuality. But in the end, few except Perez give anything memorable.
    From a technical perspective, the film isn't bad at all. There was a lot of tweaking going on, from fake backdrops, really soft focus camera work (I think intended to give a flawless porcelain look to the vampires), and some special effects that were servicable. I didn't think the motion blurring used here was as effective as that used in Interview, but they are different films and entitled to their unique takes.
    None of the flaws are big enough to sink the film, but there really isn't any meat to the storyline, and there are few aspects of the movie itself that beg repeat viewing.
    I'd give it [​IMG] [​IMG].
    The previews before this certainly don't have me looking forward to the Cinema this Spring. Very diappointing. I also had a crying baby in the theater. That's a first for almost 4 years for me.

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