Queen Of The Damned Movie Review

When the promising, recently deceased young R&B singer and actress Aaliyah is on screen in the title role of "Queen of the Damned," it's impossible to look away from her. She absolutely transcends the screen and fills the whole theater with her potent presence. Bewitching, viperous, powerful, beautiful, sensual and captivating in every sense of the word, she dominates this incongruous vampire flick with her chilling allure.

Seeing her talent burst forth like this makes the plane crash that took her life last year all the more tragic. But in watching "Queen of the Damned" the more immediate misfortune is that her last performance comes in such a bad, bad movie. With its disengaging shallowness and cardboard cutout atmosphere, you'd never know "Queen of the Damned" was based on an Anne Rice novel if the film's real central character weren't such a well-known ghoul as the Vampire Lestat.

As played by slinky Stuart Townsend ("About Adam," "Shooting Fish"), this Lestat is a vacantly bloodthirsty porcelain Goth-rocker who bears no resemblance to the lithesome, charismatically nuanced, unexpectedly mesmerizing version of the character that Tom Cruise inhabited in 1994's "Interview with the Vampire."

Awakened after a century's slumber by the hardcore pulse of a thrash band practicing in his boarded-up New Orleans mansion, by the end of the opening credits Lestat has become a rock star, without the script going into any detail whatsoever about his rise to fame. Director Michael Rymer ("In Too Deep") is so inexplicably eager to skip over such a potentially fascinating storyline that he has Lestat emerge from his crypt after 100 years already sporting leather pants and apparently well versed in the finer points of head-banging to heavy metal guitar music.

The Cliff's Notes of a plot -- involving a pretty, young occult student (Marguerite Moreau) seeking out Lestat to become a vampire for reasons that go largely unexplained -- is used as filler leading up to a huge outdoor concert in the desert. At the show, scores of the world's vampires show up to kill rock god Lestat for going public as a vampire. Apparently this is against some vampire code of ethics, even though the media and Lestat's audience think the claim is just his Marilyn Manson-like gimmick persona.

The question "Damned" doesn't bother answering is why, if it's so important to keep the existence of vampires a big secret, all these bloodsuckers decide to make a huge scene trying to wax Lestat in front 100,000 fans while TV cameras are recording the whole thing. Why not just, say, show up at his uber-cool L.A. pad and off the guy while no one is around?

Meanwhile, our anti-hero's antics have somehow awakened Akasha (Aaliyah), the ancient Egyptian "mother of all vampires," who has designs on making the egotistical Lestat her companion in carnage. This, in turn, makes Lestat sprout an out-of-character conscience for no explored reason.

Aaliyah blows Townsend and everyone else off the screen in her few brief scenes, slinking serpent-like through her seduction of Lestat and many massacres of humans and immortals alike. Not only is she the sole cast member who can deliver the script's Z-movie dialogue convincingly, but she does so in dead sexy, barely there, bikini-of-the-pharaohs armor.

As it is far more MTV than Anne Rice, "Queen of the Damned" has a few visual high points, the most effective of which is a neat-o air-brushing effect that gives Townsend and Aaliyah unnaturally smooth, almost marble-like skin that makes them look cold and truly unearthly in close-ups.

But a wee bit of clever digital grease paint is hardly enough to distract one from the "Vampires For Dummies" performances or the nonsensical plot devices (Lestat leaves a diary lying around London to be found). Nor does Aaliyah's posthumous proof of untapped acting talent counter the many conspicuously unresolved story threads or the myriad of other problems which all point to one inevitable conclusion:

The people who made "Queen of the Damned" were more interested in producing a slick and cool product than they were in quality, continuity or integrity.


Comments

Terre' Cheyenne Autumn Bowman's picture

Terre' Cheyenne...

I love the Queen of the Damned! Stuart is enchanting and hypnotizing in his performance as Lestat. I have watched Interview with a Vampire also. I can say Tom Cruise can not hold a candle to Stuart Townsend in acting, looks, and his essence. Stuart is by far the best actor holistically. The Lord of the Rings would definately been a better movie if Stu was in it! I will watch anything that Stuart is in. Oh! I have a question for anyone who knows if Stuart Townsend has ever recorded Christian music or any other type of music? Stuart is the best! My little girl also thinks he is great! Terre' Cheyenne Autumn Bowman

8 years 9 months ago
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Sky Blue Hope's picture

Sky Blue Hope

I know this is very late in coming, but I absolutely ADORED Stuart Townsend as Lestat in "Queen of the Damned".He was MUCH better, and MUCH hotter as Lestat than Tom Cruise could ever hope to be.....I totally "bought" Stuart as Lestat, so much so that "QOTD" still now remains my all time favorite movie.Also, it prompted me to read Anne Rice's novels about Lestat. And even though in her books she describes Lestat as blonde, whenever I read her books, I ALWAYS envision Lestat as looking exactly like Stuart did in the movie, blonde or no blonde.Now, he's starring in the new ABC series "Night Stalker". I browsed an ABC.com Night Stalker message board, and made a post about how I loved Stuart and hoped the new series would last for years. I also mentioned how much I loved him in "QOTD", and how gorgeous he looks with his hair long like that.Then, someone posted that they read in an online interview that Stuart was wearing a wig in "QOTD", and said so himself in some interview. I've been searching, but cannot locate any interview where Stuart says he was wearing a wig.Regardless, I love him, wig or no wig, but what is the truth regarding his hair in "QOTD?".Love and Peace,Regina Van Cott(Sky Blue Hope)

8 years 9 months ago
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whatyoudontknow's picture

whatyoudontknow

Obviously the main review was written by a man. And he obviously had no clue how well Stuart Townsend played his part. I could see the emotions between him and the women characters. And you know what? Sometimes you have to read what isn't there aswell to get the full outlook. And he was dead sexy! I usually don't think make-up looks good on a man, but wow!I thought his part was played especially well. Also Aaliyah was an amazing Queen of the damned. She was sedutive, controlly and mainipulating; just how the Queen of the Damned should be.Overall. I thought this movie was great!

8 years 6 months ago
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Hearts Of Everfrost's picture

Hearts Of Everfrost

First of all, Tom Cruise was NOT the best Lestat, as he is somewhat ugly and was way too emotional in Interview with the Vampire. I do think that the movie Interview with the Vampire is portrayed more accurately than Queen of the Damned, but the overall quality of Queen of the Damned is far beyond that of Interview with the Vampire. Stuart Townsend is a new discovery to me, as I first saw one of his movies last week, since then however, I have become obsessed. He is uber sexy and honestly, I'd let him suck my blood any day. Without him in this movie, it would never have become what it is. Aaliyah wasn't bad as Akasha, she was ancient, mysterious, and sexy, but her part was almost thrown in. The movie, unfortunately, didn't give much background to the characters. To bash the hottest Vampire ever portrayed is a horrible offense. No one could have played the part so well. There simply is no other Lestat than Stuart Townsend, the Vampire Lestat.

8 years 6 months ago
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Queen Of The Damned Rating

" Grim "

Rating: R, Opened: Friday, February 22, 2002

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