Starring: Stuart Townsend, Aaliyah, Vincent Perez, Paul McGann, Lena Olin
Directed by: Michael Rymer
Rated: R for vampire violence
Parental Notes: “Queen of the Damned” has few redeeming features, but its value as eye candy may appeal to older teens. Younger teens will probably be put off by the violence (Akasha tears a vampire’s heart out and eats it, among other things).
There are vampire movies that blow your mind and give you the creeps so bad you itch every time you step outdoors after dark. Unfortunately, “Queen of the Damned” is not one of these. If you like watching beautiful people sit around and talk or rip each other apart, this is the film for you, but if you want a coherent plot, three- (or even two-) dimensional characters, or good pacing, give this one a pass.
“Queen of the Damned” is very loosely based on the vampire novels of Anne Rice, and tells the story of Lestat (Stuart Townsend) and his fateful interactions with Akasha (Aaliyah), the Mother of All Vampires. Lestat has become a rock star, and is proclaiming the secrets of his kind in his music. This enrages his fellow vampires, causing one faction to band together to kill Lestat, and waking Akasha from a centuries-long sleep. She’s impressed by his nerve and wants him to be her consort after she takes over the world.
The script is mediocre at best, with only a few scenes that are halfway decent, and the acting rarely manages to rise above it. Aaliyah’s role is fairly simple: look menacing and sexy. Her grace and beauty fitted her perfectly for the part, and it is sad to think that this is her final film. Stuart Townsend, the original choice to play Aragorn in “Lord of the Rings,” is sufficiently pretty and predatory to be Lestat. However, if “Queen of the Damned” is any indication of his abilities, we should be grateful that he was replaced by Viggo Mortensen in that film. He’s lovely to watch, but brings no depth to his part. Even the usually wonderful Paul McGann is depressingly wooden as a member of a secret society that watches and records the activities of vampires. As Marius, Lestat’s creator, Vincent Perez is unable to do little more than mouth often corny dialog and pose, although he does try to bring a touch of humor to the part.
What does work well in “Queen of the Damned” is the look of the thing. The vampires are gorgeous, their skin in soft-focus to make it flawless and paled until it looks like fine porcelain. Townsend and Perez are stunning, as is Aaliyah, and the special effects are good enough most of the time to make your eyes widen a bit. The handful of fight scenes are thoroughly entertaining. Indeed, in the couple of scenes that work decently, “Queen of the Damned” could pass for a “B” horror film.
Sadly, the film never quite lives up to its trailer, which promised a couple hours of brainless vampire entertainment. Too incoherent and nondimensional to entertain, even the eye candy factor can’t quite save “Queen of the Damned.”